Friday, August 31, 2012

Insanity Reigns: Priority Designation of Schools Will Lead to Further Destruction of Neighborhood Schools and Privatization

This is the most ridiculous policy... 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"... Meanwhile schools with large nos of at risk kids to be restructured or closed. .....a NYC special ed teacher and member of MORE
Here comes another assault on schools that will force the most struggling schools to focus resources on tests instead of doing what is necessary. And they can expect no help from Bloomberg/Walcott or from the next mayor for that matter.

Some say John King, pro-charter, pro-privatization State Ed Comm. is clueless. I don't agree. He is executing the ed deform agenda, in addition to executing these schools

Gotham has a story about this here. Go leave a comment.

Leonie Haimson had this quick analysis:
At first glance reward schools include some of wealthiest & most selective in city incl ps 6 on upper east side manhattan & anderson Stuy bronx science brooklyn tech & lehman these are the schools that are supposed to get cash  awards for doing so well?
Here are the comments that the MORE special ed teacher sent in this quick analysis:
As result of the NCLB waiver, all districts in NYC were identified for focus/priority except D31/Staten Island...there is a reward too, of course going to wealthiest schools, in d15 for example ps 321 park slope.
This is the most ridiculous policy... 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"...
There will be an improvement plan based on 6 tenants of education effectiveness (whatever that means) and schools/districts will have to meet goals, provide data, have visits... Haven't seen what happens if goals are not met/there isn't improvement/test scores don't go up... But this newfangled thing has another group "priority" schools, which are schools "in more trouble" than yours (lowest 5% I think), those schools I think face more imminent action and I think the idea is the focus schools are targeted to prevent from becoming priority aka- stop them from becoming "the bottom 5"... Of course if u have a tiered system like this, there will always be a "bottom."
 http://www.p12.nysed.gov/accountability/ESEADesignations.html


This email was sent out to a staff by Jeff Kaufman, chapter leader of one of the schools.
As our school has been statistically struggling with some City and State metrics our struggle, unfortunately, continues. Today the State has designated Aspirations as a “Priority” school. This replaces our former SINI designation and was determined by 3 main criteria; ELA, Math scores and graduation rates.

Under the Federal NCLB rules New York applied for and received a waiver in order to comply with many of the mandates. With the State’s Race to the Top Application (conditionally approved but not implemented since our union has not agreed on evaluation of teacher criteria…there has been no agreement to change our U/S rating system) the Feds and the State revamped their list and terminology. The new designation that we received, Priority school, will release additional sums to change our ELA, Math and graduation stats. It also buys up to 3 years before the state will order the school closed or phased-out.

It is important to note that the state’s designation does not directly impact any city decision to close or phase out our school. The city’s power to transform certain low performing schools was severely curtailed when our union won a lawsuit prohibiting the city from excessing all staff without closing the school.

While I realize a lot of this is complicated and this short space is clearly not enough to explain all of the nuances I think it is important to understand that as we open the school year with the same commitment we have always had…to our students. We will undoubtedly be told we are not working hard enough or effectively and that if we don’t improve our school will close.

We will do our best, not for any state metric or to please an administrator, but because we are committed to the notion that if our students are to have any chance in this world it will be because that they are prepared for college or work, and while we can’t change their economic status or their poor prior education, we can impact our students in many ways which state or city metrics will never be able to measure.

I look forward to this year knowing there will be challenges and knowing that I will be working with some of the most dedicated teachers I have ever known.

As always, feel free to call or email me about this or any other issue. If you wish more information about our priority school designation and the process go to


See below for word from State Ed


Focus Districts and Focus Schools
            In order to receive approval for an ESEA Flexibility Waiver, states were required to identify Priority Schools and Focus Schools.  Priority Schools are among the lowest five percent in the State in terms of combined English language arts and mathematics performance that are not making progress, as well as those schools that have graduation rates below 60% for the last several years.  Schools that were previously identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving and received School Improvement Grants in the 2011-12 school year were also identified as Priority Schools.

Under New York's waiver, the State Education Department first identifies Focus Districts and these districts, in turn, work with the State Education Department to identify their Focus Schools.  Focus Districts are those in which the performance of an accountability group (i.e., racial/ ethnic groups, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities) is among the lowest performing in the State for English language arts or mathematics combined and in which the accountability group is not making progress.  A district may also be identified if an accountability group is among the lowest performing in the State for graduation rate.

            In order to guide districts in their designation of Focus Schools, the New York State Education Department (SED or "the Department") provided each identified district with four options when creating their lists:

* Option 1: Select the minimum number of schools from SED list, ranked ordered based on the count of non-proficient and non-graduate results (List A).
* Option 2: Select the minimum number of schools based on SED list, ranked ordered based on the percentage of non-proficient and non-graduate results (List B).
* Option 3: Select the minimum number of schools from a combination of schools on List A and B; OR minimum number of schools from List A and/or B plus district-selected schools; OR select more than the minimum number of schools from List A and/or List B and/or district-selected schools.
* Option 4:  Select all schools in district.

            Sixteen districts chose to identify all of their schools as Focus Schools; 16 chose Option 1; 15 chose Option 2; and 20 districts chose Option 3 and sent in a list comprised of schools they recommended for Focus School identification.  Two districts were provided with schools that were below the cut points to serve as their Focus Schools.  One Special Act District will not be required to serve any Focus School, but will serve one Priority School.

            Focus Districts must create and implement District Comprehensive Improvement Plans (DCIP) that outline how the district will use Federal ESEA as well as other funds to promote the academic achievement of the accountability groups identified within the district.  Focus Districts will have new funding options as a result of the waiver, as there is no longer a requirement to offer Supplemental Educational Services (SES) to students who attend Title I identified schools.  Focus Districts will now use a 5 to 15 percent set-aside to fund district and school level activities described within the District Comprehensive Improvement Plan targeted towards increasing the academic achievement of the identified subgroups.  Each Focus District will be visited by a State Education Department Integrated Intervention Team that will use a Diagnostic Tool for District and School Effectiveness to assist the district and its schools in developing and implementing improvement plans based on six tenets of educational effectiveness.

2 comments:

  1. As we saw last year, many of these schools HAD goals and plans. They were not given the chance to implement them. The principal that was put in at Juan Morel Campos HS in D 14, who was going to lead that school into change, is gone...but now a charter is in the building. This is my opinion, he kept his mouth closed during the hearings, made a deal to keep the school open to quiet the community and allowed Beginning With Children to invade the building. Now he's gone - somewhere. I wonder what his reward was. The principal at PS 19, Roberto Clemente left two days ago and told her staff nothing. JHS 50 has been put on the list so Eva can now take over the building. They shut up the communities, figuring they won their battles and are sleeping dogs. We had all better gear up for battle again!

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  2. The principal of 71 will now be working at TWEED as a Senior Director of creating all the new tests addressing the 20% of the proposed new teacher evaluation.

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