New York state published a list of schools based on measures like test scores and graduation rates. At the top are “reward” schools. At the bottom are “priority” schools.
This is the amazing discovery. The schools that enroll mostly white and Asian students in affluent neighborhoods are doing a great job; they get a reward. The schools that enroll mostly black and Hispanic students in poor neighborhoods are doing a bad job; they are in line to get sanctions, interventions.
Bruce Baker did a statistical analysis, posted here. He called the state’s methods “junk science.”
New York City parent activist Leonie Haimson asked a question:
“Does anyone know if [state Commissioner of Education John] King looked at 5 year graduation rates as well as 4 year rates when putting together the focus/priority HS lists as he promised to do at the State Assembly hearings with the NCLB waivers?
Many NYC high schools like Columbus etc. justifiably complained that they were being punished for taking in a lot of new immigrant kids who didn’t even speak English when entering the school. Six years would be even better for schools with a lot of ELL kids.
Of course nothing makes any sense here about “rewarding” schools that primarily are made up of wealthy white and Asian kids and/or require entrance exams so they can further replicate, like Anderson and Stuy. Is that the federal/state answer to eliminating the achievement gap?”
Norm Scott, retired teacher, prolific blogger and lead producer of the film “The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman’,” summed up this policy as “Insanity Reigns.” This policy, he writes, “will force the most struggling schools to focus resources on tests instead of doing what is necessary.”
Carol Burris reviewed the list and discovered only two charter schools in the state at the top and two at the bottom. She writes:
I have been perusing the Reward Schools List produced by New York State and was quite surprised to find how few charter schools are on it. There are two to be exact– Bronx Charter School of Excellence and Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School. To make the list, you must first be in good standing, that is you must first make AYP. Certainly Ms. Moskowitz’s charters do that. See the link she posts here: http://www.successacademies.org/page.cfm?p=11
The schools cannot have growing gaps between groups and the performance index for those groups relative to comparative groups must be in the top 20%. Given that low SES students are compared with low SES students, I would imagine Success Academies do well, as indicated on their website.
However, there is a final criteria to be a Reward school. For the past two years, your students must show yearly growth that exceeds the median growth for students in the state. Growth scores are adjusted for poverty, ELL status and SWD status. You can find the requirements to be a high performing, reward school here: http://roundtheinkwell.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/rewardschoolsidentificationtechnicaldocumentation-2.pdf
There are 53 New York City public schools on the Reward school list. Some are test ins, but others are neighborhood schools. Given all the hype about Success Charters and KIPP schools, wouldn’t you expect to see those schools on the list? Could it be that they keep kids at minimum proficiency but do not get them to grow? I think these are questions worth asking.
By the way, there were two charters on the priority schools list (the troubled schools list) as well.
Teacher Julie Cavanaugh teaches children who live in low-income housing projects. She wrote (on Norm Scott’s blog): “…cash rewards and options for opting out of some state regulations for schools that are doing great, which is correlated with population. More external pressure and “accountability” for schools that are not, which has to do w/ population, but no policies to actually help these kids… as long as we are going by test scores the results of programs like these will be the same: schools with highest concentrations of ELL/Special needs/and children living in poverty will be “low achieving” and schools with low poverty rates (or no poverty) and small numbers of ELLs and special needs students will be “high achieving.”
Here is the list of schools in New York state. Do your own analysis.