Saturday, March 28, 2009

Credit Recovery and Drive-By Diplomas in NYC

Teachers have been screaming about credit recovery and the drive-by diplomas that result as a cheap BloomKlein tactic to pump grad rates. See Jamaica HS CL James Eterno testimony last week on the ICE blog. ICE Members Testify at State Assembly Education Committee Hearing in Brooklyn
This winter, Jamaica High School has followed other schools by starting something called “Credit Recovery.” A pupil who has failed a class can make up an entire course by showing up for three mornings for three hours during winter or spring break. The academic standards have fallen so much that teachers now joke that vehicles better roll up their windows when they pass by our school or they will have a “drive by diploma” thrown in their car. We understand why the SAT scores are down. Standards are virtually nonexistent. Kids are smart. They know this. We know we are not alone and that what is happening at Jamaica is occurring in many other buildings. We are told by administration that if the graduation and promotion numbers don’t improve, the DOE will shut down our school and get rid of us.

Below is a fascinating discussion between Leonie Haimson and David Bloomfield who heads the principals' academy at Brooklyn College, a NYC parent and major critic of BloomKlein, though he does support the concept of mayoral control.

Leonie Haimson writes:

Thanks so much, David; this is truly fascinating stuff.

I’m not sure who Mr. Marino means by “They have tried to stop this action but as I see it, it is still occurring. “ If this refers to DOE, I would doubt its veracity.

In extended questioning at the Brooklyn Assembly hearings last week, Eric Nadelstern passionately defended the current practice of credit recovery and also claimed this it was a long-standing policy of the NYC schools, even before the current administration came into office.

As he was seated with Marcia Lyles, Chris Cerf, Deputy Mayor Walcott, Jim Liebman, and the entire top brass of DOE except for Klein, and Michael Best was seated just behind him (the chief counsel of DOE) and none of them contradicted his remarks, one can only conclude that the DOE very much supports the current policy, whatever they may have stated to SED to the contrary.

Indeed, this comment from SED is reminiscent of their recent statement to the press about the class size increases in NYC schools this year:

"Although the New York City Department of Education made measurable progress in the first year of their Contract for Excellence, we required them to take corrective actions this year. Both the State and City are working together to fully understand this new class size information and decide what further actions are needed to address this situation."

Either the state is more naïve than one would think possible, or another interpretation is in order.

About the following statement in Marino’s email that you reproduce below: “NYC DOE did publish a statement from the Office of School Improvement that Credit Recovery was not acceptable for students to earn credit other than the way I mentioned.”

Could you possibly ask Mr. Marino if he could forward you a copy of this statement, and ask him where and how it was published by DOE?

I have not seen it in the Principals weekly or otherwise. I wonder how it was circulated.


Leonie Haimson

From David Bloomfield
Subject: [nyceducationnews] credit recovery

I thought people might be interested in a post by a NYS Education Department official about credit recovery, posted on the Long Island School Leadership's listserv for aspiring administrators:

As an Education Associate for the New York State Education Department there is no such item in the Commissioner Regulations as 'CREDIT RECOVERY' and this is a misconception. The only way a student can earn credit for failed courses is that the student have the 180 seat time in the course and go to a summer session for 5-6 weeks and then take the appropriate test at the end of the summer course. Anything less, is a violation of the commissioner's regulations and a school can be sanctioned for this. Hope this is clear to you!

Sal Marino

Mr. Marino went on to state, in response to whether "component retesting" is possible to allow students to pass a course (i.e., if they flunk the course, could they would only then have to "pass" the parts of the course that they failed in order to receive credit):

The answer to your question is no! If the course let say is Integrated Algebra and the student fails different topics of the course and has a failing average of the course, then he has to repeat the course. I think your thinking of component retesting. That is totally different from course elements. If a student has the seat time in a course and fails the regents exam twice with a grade of between 48 and 55 then they can take the component retest in specific topics and if they get enough credit on this test the scale score is added to the regents grade to help them pass the regents, but not the course. They can pass the course without passing the regents exam. I hope I have made this clear. I also believe that this may be the last year for component retesting.

The good news (though don't hold your breath) is that Mr. Marino states, in response to my question about whether SED will make the DOE crack down on the practice and track credits obtained in this way, he stated:

At the present time the NYC DOE did publish a statement from the Office of School Improvement that Credit Recovery was not acceptable for students to earn credit other than the way I mentioned. They have tried to stop this action but as I see it, it is still occurring. At the present time the legal department of the state and city are working on something, for students to recover credits but it has not been published. Yes you may pass on the information I sent as a reply and I hope others will read this and see that there is no such item as credit recovery in the commissioner's regulations!!
Sal Marino


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