New York City’s biggest education news of 2013 took place on the penultimate day of the year, when Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio named the chancellor who will take the school system away from the Bloomberg era.
Stories about Carmen Fariña’s appointment haven’t had time to rack up much traffic yet, but her name does appear in one of the most read stories on GothamSchools this year — in a list of people who might end up running the city’s schools. The rest of the list of most-read stories similarly reflect our readers’ interest in changes that affect the entire city: to tests and grading, teacher evaluations, and City Hall leadership.
Here’s the full list. Leave a comment with your suggestion of stories that should have made this list, or your prediction for news items that will land on this list next year. Happy 2014!
10. April 17: “On second day of new tests, time crunch seen as major issue“
If students post low scores on the sections of the state reading test administered today, it might be in part because many could not finish in the allotted time.
According to teachers who proctored today’s English language arts exams, the time allowed — 70 minutes in third and fourth grades and 90 minutes in fifth through eighth grades – simply wasn’t enough for many students, especially given the critical thinking that the tests required.
Student surveys, observation options for teachers, and a role for educators at each school are part of the city’s new teacher evaluation system, which State Education Commissioner John King is imposing today.
Leonie Haimson’s career as a New York City education activist started when her older child was assigned to a first-grade class with 28 other students. That was in 1996, and since then, Haimson has advocated for public school parents — through her organization, Class Size Matters; the blog and online mailing lists she runs; and the national parent group she helped launch.
But her personal stake changed last summer, when Haimson ceased to be a public school parent. Her younger child started at a private high school in September, following a trajectory from public to private school that her older child, now an adult, also took.
During a year when the racial composition of the student bodies at the city’s most selective high schools came under harsh new scrutiny, the number of black and Hispanic students admitted to the schools fell sharply.
A slew of glitches in the city’s electronic grading for Regents exams have delayed scores for several subjects, just days before high schools are set to begin holding graduation ceremonies.
The problems represent at best a significant inconvenience and cost and at worst a threat to students’ scores and graduation status, according to educators with knowledge of the grading process.
The only charter school in the city to have a special focus on serving high-functioning children with autism, Neighborhood Charter offers a program inspired by the ASD Nest model that the Department of Education launched in 2003 and now runs at 23 of its schools. One of the highlights of Neighborhood Charter’s program is the social skills class, where the school speech pathologist, along with those students’ teachers, show students how to take turns, work collaboratively, express themselves, and handle disappointment.
Recent history shows that predicting a chancellor is a guessing game for those outside the inner circle: Three of the last four schools chiefs — Harold Levy, Joel Klein, and Cathie Black — were plucked from outside the world of education and came as a surprise to education observers at the time.
Still, as the leadership transition nears, names have started circulating about likely candidates to be de Blasio’s chancellor pick. Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has stated repeatedly he intends to leave with the administration, seems to have taken himself out of the running.
We’ve sorted through the rumors and political jockeying to handicap several strong contenders.
2. June 20, 2012: “At long last, state releases Common Core-aligned test questions“
Educators sweating the state’s shift from old to new learning standards have received their first clues to what new tests will look like.
Teachers across the state opened their email inboxes Tuesday to an announcement from State Education Commissioner John King: Sample test items are now available.