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A treasure trove of information on schools courtesy of the IBO

Two years after becoming the Department of Education’s official data monitor, the city’s Independent Budget Office has finished crunching a mountain of numbers.

The results, which include revelations about space-sharing arrangements, budget allocations, principal and teacher demographics, and student performance, are compiled in a comprehensive report released today.

The IBO received the data dump after state legislators designated the office as a DOE watchdog scrutinizing student achievement and financial information in the 2009 law reauthorizing mayoral control. Since then, the IBO’s education unit has grown to eight people from “basically one,” according to communications director Doug Turetsky. Raymond Damonico, the IBO’s director of education research, supervised the report’s creation.

The IBO also today launched a website that allows users to pull up the data for any city school. (Charter schools are not included in the analysis.)

Among the many highlights:

  • Poor students at relatively affluent schools outperformed relatively affluent students at schools with many poor students.
  • As of 2009-2010, school buildings housing co-locations were less crowded overall than buildings housing a single school.
  • Just 22 percent of people who were principals in October 2010 remained in the school system nine years later. Half of people teaching in October 2010 were still in the system nine years later.
  • More than half of the 2,292 new teachers who entered the system in the 2009-2010 school year teach special education.
  • The portion of people coming through the city’s Leadership Academy who actually landed jobs as principals dropped sharply in recent years, to just 54.5 percent in the 2009-2010 school year.
  • Leadership Academy graduates working as principals in the 2009-2019 school year had previously spent an average of 12.2 years in the school system, compared to 21.1 years for principals who came through the traditional pathway. But principals from another training program, New Leaders for New Schools, had the shortest tenure, with an average of just 9.4 years experience among them.

Other data points flesh out what has long been known, such as trends in students’ performance on state tests. Another set confirms long-held suspicions, such as that students who attend school more regularly have higher test scores.

While the IBO has included some of the DOE data in previous reports, today’s report marks the first time the data have been collected in one place.

The online school search function is not quite intuitive (after typing the name of a school, wait a minute for a drop-down menu to appear). But it is powerful, offering detailed data about school spending as well as a feature that describes middle schools based on the kinds of high schools attended by the school’s graduates. Another function sheds light on high schools by describing the average test scores of the students who enter.

I pulled up information for middle schools in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and found that 55 percent of students who attend M.S. 51, a selective middle school, go on to high schools where at least 83 percent of students graduate on time. Just a few blocks away, only 16 percent of students at M.S. 88 go on to similar high schools, compared to 24 percent of eighth-graders citywide.

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