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February 4, 2015
State board stops short of guiding schools toward more test scores in teacher ratings
The Indiana State Board of Education today held off a decision to ask school districts to count test scores and other “objective” measures of…
December 4, 2014
Teachers aren’t the only only ones facing new evaluation system
The same landmark law that ushered in a new system for teacher evaluations this year extends to thousands of school employees who work outside the classroom. This group includes counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses and other licensed staff.
November 13, 2013
Progress reports show stability as mayor-elect plans changes
Officials released what could be the city's final round of school grades today, emphasizing stability even as major changes are likely imminent. The Department of Education and City Hall will soon be full of new officials, and last year was chaotic for different reasons—Superstorm Sandy and the first round of the state's new, tougher Common Core-aligned exams. That meant today's release was marked by little fanfare and lowered stakes. The A to F grades and accompanying school progress reports are based mostly on calculations of student test scores, and they have become a signature of Mayor Bloomberg's focus on school accountability since the city began giving them out in 2007. But they may not stick around at all, as mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has promised to eliminate those grades and pause the school-closure process. So the 45 schools that received Fs and 102 that received Ds this year will not be considered for closure this year, as has become the norm.
November 13, 2013
State releases redesigned school report card
The state released a new school report card today that includes a college and career readiness section. The Tennessee Department of Education said they…
September 10, 2013
Q&A: Klein disciple Nadelstern laments end of disruptive era
As Mayor Bloomberg’s term in office comes to an end in New York City, mayoral candidates have been quick to denounce many of his education policies. A recent poll found that a majority of residents disapprove of the outgoing mayor’s handling of public schools, and the current crop of candidates are unhappy with school closures and the school grading system currently in place. The Bloomberg administration can count Eric Nadelstern, former deputy chancellor for school support and instruction under Bloomberg and currently a professor of Practice in Educational Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, as one of its staunchest defenders. Nadelstern spoke to The Hechinger Report about his thoughts on the future of public education in New York City and his recent book 10 Lessons From New York City Schools, about his 40 years of experience working in public education. Question: There’ll be a new mayor in the city soon. Any trepidation that some of the policies you talk favorably about in your book might end? Answer: Sad to say, but I think they’ve changed already under the old mayor. I see networks being redirected away from school support to more central office compliance matters which disturbs me. I see the core curriculum being mandated in a way that was reminiscent of the old days in the way superintendents mandate curriculum rather than rolled it out in a way that creates a lot of options for schools on how to creatively engage around it or not if they choose to. And those decisions and policies trouble me. Certainly under a new mayor I think two main areas in greatest jeopardy are the issues of school closings that also creates the opportunity to open new schools as well as whether the non-geographic network structure may return to the old-time district structure headed by superintendents. Politicians in particular favor the old structure because they could exploit it to their benefit more easily. Q: What changes are you talking about?
December 5, 2012
School ratings inch up a bit
The latest state school ratings show slight increases in performance, according to new data from the Department of Education.
October 1, 2012
More schools met threshold for closure on new progress reports
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky briefed reporters on the new progress report cards this morning. Almost twice as many elementary and middle schools are eligible for closure under the Department of Education’s longstanding rules this year, according to the schools’ 2011-2012 progress reports. Since 2007, the city has given schools a letter grade each year based largely on calculations of their students’ test scores. Schools that receive an F, D, or three consecutive C’s or worse can be closed. Last year, 120 schools fell into that category, and the department ultimately moved to close 10 of them. But this year, 217 schools received those grades, suggesting that this year’s closure toll could be greater than in the past. The most dramatic change was a jump in schools receiving their third straight grade of C or below — from just five last year to 114 this year. The striking jump is a late-onset effect of the state’s 2010 decision to raise the proficiency bar on its state tests. In 2009, just two schools had received F’s and 84 percent earned A’s. But that year, most schools saw their test scores fall, and nearly 70 percent of schools saw their progress report grades drop, too. The progress reports released today were the third since the change. Caught in the metrics were some popular schools, such as Central Park East I and the Earth School in Manhattan, as well as 16 of Staten Island’s 52 elementary and middle schools.
September 12, 2012
State Board gets preview of district ratings
The number of struggling school districts is expected to grow slightly in 2012 but the mix has changed somewhat, state leaders say.
May 31, 2012
After closure scare, Opportunity Charter gets five-year renewal
Opportunity Charter School's principal, Marya Baker, is optimistic about the Harlem school's future. Months after fighting to stay open, a troubled Harlem charter school has secured a long-term future after the Department of Education recommended that it receive the longest-possible charter renewal. Last fall, Opportunity Charter School was one of six charter schools whose performance landed them on the city's short-list for closure. Now the city is locked in legal battles to shutter two of schools, Peninsula Preparatory Academy and Williamsburg Charter High School. But Opportunity is set to keep its doors open until at least 2017. It's good news for Opportunity, a middle and high school that has had its share of performance and management troubles in recent years. The Harlem school stands apart from many charter schools because it serves older students and maintains an even balance of students with disabilities and students who do not require special education services. “Opportunity Charter is incredibly pleased to have been recognized by the city for all the hard work we do,” said Principal Marya Baker while chaperoning the school’s prom in the Bronx last Friday. “I think that we’re finally being recognized for being successful for a model that is incredibly difficult and something we feel we do very well — that is, having an inclusive setting for 50 percent of our students who have special needs.” The about-face is especially remarkable because the city recommended a shortened charter renewal for Opportunity in January. Short-term renewals are given when a charter school has failed to fulfill performance promises but is considered capable of improvement. Opportunity got one in 2010.
May 29, 2012
Feds grant NY a waiver to swap new promises for NCLB rules
New York State will be freed from the most onerous requirements of the decade-old No Child Left Behind law, under the terms of a waiver awarded today by the U.S. Department of Education. In exchange, the state will begin assessing districts and schools on their students' progress instead of simply their performance — and districts that fall short will get extra funding and support starting this fall. Lists of lagging schools, which will now be known as "Focus" schools, will be released by the end of June, according to a State Education Department spokesman. The state will also publish lists of "Reward" schools that will merit extra funds because of their strong performance. The Obama administration introduced the waiver program as a way around Congress, which so far has declined to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, renamed No Child Left Behind during George W. Bush's presidency. NCLB required all students to be "proficient" by 2014 in a quixotic that goal left more schools labeled as failing each year without urging states to action. “The waiver lets New York move away from NCLB requirements that were unproductive or unrealistic,” said State Education Commissioner King in a statement. “We can evaluate schools in terms of both student growth and proficiency and recognize schools in which students are making good progress toward meeting standards of college and career readiness.”
April 19, 2012
Budget passes Senate, goes back to JBC
The largely harmonious process of developing next year’s state budget took another big step with 30-5 Senate approval Thursday.
March 28, 2012
Plug pulled on parent trigger bill
A parent trigger bill – its sponsor called it more of a “flare” – has been killed by a Senate committee.
March 19, 2012
Glimmer of hope in revenue forecasts
Improved state revenue forecasts could mean smaller-than-planned education cuts in 2012-13, and the JBC finally takes action on new testing costs.
February 29, 2012
Trigger bill passes House
Updated - The Colorado House today gave narrow final approval to House Bill 12-1149, the so-called parent trigger bill.
February 23, 2012
A day of much talk, little action
A chaotic day for education bills at the Colorado legislature ended with just one noteworthy bill passed and much work left over for later.
February 9, 2012
State gets its NCLB waiver
Colorado is among 10 states receiving waivers from the No Child Left Behind law, federal officials announced Thursday.
February 8, 2012
Evaluation appeals rules launched
The first version of proposed rules governing appeals under the new teacher evaluation system were unveiled Wednesday.
February 6, 2012
“Trigger” bill passes first test
The House Education Committee Monday approved a watered-down version of a parent trigger law.
February 1, 2012
Seeking middle ground on tests
Members of three legislative committees put their heads together Wednesday on the thorny issue of how to pay for a new state testing system.
January 22, 2012
“Trigger” would be more of a request
A revised “parent trigger” bill is among the latest batch of education bills introduced in the Colorado legislature.
January 17, 2012
Bill would eliminate some state tests
The bill to reduce statewide testing has been introduced, and the Department of Education finally got through its budget hearing.
January 11, 2012
Told their charter school will close, parents hunt for alternatives
Soon after Department of Education officials informed administrators at Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School Monday that the school would close in June, Lisa George's phone started ringing. As a co-president of Peninsula Prep's parent-teacher organization and a member of its board of trustees, George knew parents would want help figuring out what will happen to their children. The city says the general plan for Peninsula Prep's 350 students is for them to return to their zoned elementary schools next year. For George's son, a third-grader, that means P.S. 215 — one of the 19 schools the city said this year had performed so poorly that they should be phased out. School officials said they would help families zoned for P.S. 215 and several other neighborhood schools that received D's on their city progress reports to find other options. But choices might be hard to come by: Almost all of the public schools in Far Rockaway post state test scores that are lower than Peninsula Prep's — one reason that the school has a waiting list longer than its roster of enrolled students. Far Rockaway's bleak school landscape has people familiar with Peninsula Prep confused about how it landed on the chopping block.
January 6, 2012
Sticks, carrots, and familiar policies in state's NCLB waiver plan
New York will get new terms for high- and low-performing schools — and new ways to define good and bad performance — under a proposed accountability plan designed to replace the requirements of No Child Left Behind. The proposal, which was released in draft form late today and will be discussed by the Board of Regents on Monday, is the result of two months of planning in response to the Obama administration's offer to waive some of the decade-old federal law’s requirements, including one that requires full proficiency by 2014. In exchange, states must to commit to prioritizing college readiness, setting guidelines for teacher and principal evaluations, and holding schools and districts accountable for their students' performance on state tests. Under the proposal, the bulk of the state's testing program would remain unchanged. But elementary and middle school students would take science tests; the bar to be considered proficient on high school exams would be raised; and proficiency would be calculated not just by whether students met certain benchmarks, but by how much they improved. Schools that fall short would not get extra funding to pay for tutoring services, an arrangement that has shown mixed results. Instead, they would get extra money to carry out more of the initiatives that the Regents themselves have endorsed, such as improving teacher training and revising curriculum standards. Five percent of low-scoring schools would become Priority Schools and have to undergo federally mandated school overhaul approaches. Another 10 percent would become Focus Schools, and their districts would have to develop plans to improve them. For the first time, school districts will be evaluated with the same scrutiny as schools were under NCLB. "Since district policies often contribute to why schools have low performance for specific groups of students," the proposal says, "districts must play a lead role in helping schools to address this issue." New York City, a district certain to house many Focus and Priority schools, will not be evaluated as one entire district, according to a provision. Instead, each of the city's 32 districts would be evaluated based on state test scores for its schools.
December 1, 2011
JBC mulls testing cost options
Department of Education leaders will face tough questions on testing costs and more when they meet with the Joint Budget Committee later this month.
September 27, 2011
Auditor to consider online schools’ review
A top legislator's request for an audit of state online education programs is moving ahead.
September 16, 2011
Brooklyn charter school with checkered past put on probation
The Department of Education is giving a Brooklyn charter school with a history of trouble just weeks to fix its most flagrant violations. We wrote in April that Williamsburg Charter High School had failed to make rent after a sharp enrollment decline. Now, the city has placed the school on a one-year probation, saying it is "in material and substantial violation of its charter, and in serious violation of applicable laws and regulations." Those laws and regulations include ones governing management, finances, and the school's relationship with the Believe High Schools Network — a relationship that the city says the school entered into illegally and must terminate within six weeks. At least three of WCHS's six board members are employed by the Believe network or one of the other two schools it operates, according to the letter, sent by Recy Dunn, head of the DOE's Charter Schools Office, to the chair of WCHS's board. "Any decisions made by the Board in regards to WCHS’s relationship with the Network would not be valid as those three members would have to recuse themselves; with only three voting Board members remaining, a majority vote decision would not be possible," the letter states. Whether the board actually voted on the Believe relationship is not clear: The board met only four times last year, instead of the required 12. The letter also raises red flags about the school's budgeting, pointing out that the school's own reporting put current assets at about $509,000 and current liabilities — the amount for which it's on the hook — at nearly $5 million.
September 14, 2011
SBE crosses fingers on new tests
Updated - The State Board of Education has voted to request bids for new state tests and supported seeking a NCLB waiver.
August 4, 2011
SBE mulls test costs, NCLB waiver
Testing costs and the possibility of waiving out of the NCLB law sparked lively discussion among State Board of Education members.
August 3, 2011
State Board has a big day
The State Board of Education got an estimate on new test costs Wednesday and an earful about proposed teacher evaluation regulations.
July 25, 2011
Opinion: Has reform cart outpaced data horse?
Several high-profile education reforms passed by the Colorado legislature in the last few years rely on massive collections of data to work as planned. For example, the 2009 accountability bill requires administrators at struggling schools to use school-level data to drive the improvement planning process. Senate Bill 191’s teacher evaluation provisions require more, however. Administrators must be able to drill down to the individual level, accurately linking teachers with students to evaluate teachers based on how well their students progress over the year. And Senate Bill 10-036 tills the soil for teacher prep programs to monitor the achievement of their graduates’ students in order to improve teacher prep programs. All are ambitious laws -- and I sometimes fear that Colorado’s reform cart has raced ahead of the data horse. The Colorado Department of Education, school districts and the Department of Higher Education are still working out the details on the kinds of data needed. That’s not a criticism. Collecting data that links every student, teacher, school and public university in the state is incredibly slow and painstaking when done right – and you definitely want it done right. I just worry that the public enthusiasm for the reforms will fade before they even get a chance. Collecting data that links every student, teacher, school and public university in the state is incredibly slow and painstaking when done right – and you definitely want it done right. That would be a shame because Colorado is headed toward building one of the most sophisticated data systems in the country, one that can be used to help improve our schools in many ways. Administrators and teachers can use data to identify their schools’ weaknesses and work together to set targets and monitor improvement. Principals can provide useful feedback to individual teachers, helping the weakest improve or find a new profession. Researchers can measure which programs and reforms are most successful over time and examine why.
July 20, 2011
"Using the indefensible to defend the status quo"
Interesting thoughts from Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle on how some standardized testing critics are using the Atlanta scandal to overstate their case. Here's a highlight: Plenty has already been said about the cheating scandal at the Atlanta school district. And, as one would expect, education traditionalists such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Diane Ravitch proclaimed that the mess proved that standardized testing leads to perverse incentives that force teachers to behave unethically, provide low-quality instruction, and ultimately, poorly serve the children in their care...
June 6, 2011
DPS' response to the credit recovery controversy
Editor's note: This post was submitted to Education News Colorado by Antwan Wilson, Denver Public Schools' assistant superintendent, office of post-secondary readiness. It offers the district's response to this blog post from EdNews Publisher Alan Gottlieb, and this article from Westword. I wanted to take this opportunity to address the concerns raised in recent media reports about the credit recovery at North High School. The issues raised in the report are very serious ones, and we are actively investigating the claims and reviewing our overall credit-recovery procedures. Should we find violations of our guidelines or ethical standards or the need to implement clearer or stronger policies, we will take action to ensure the integrity and rigor of that program and all of our programs. We certainly recognize that for our diplomas to have value, our programs must be - and be seen as - rigorous. In addressing the concerns about rigor, it’s important to take a minute to discuss the purpose of credit recovery and where it fits in our overall high school programs. To date, that investigation has determined at a minimum that there were serious deficiencies in following procedures and keeping records during the 2009-10 school year. First, a word on rigor. Over the past several years, the Denver Public Schools has significantly strengthened the rigor of its high school programs. The district has increased the number of credits required for graduation from 220 to 240 (the highest in the state to our knowledge) by adding a fourth year of math and additional lab-science requirement, among other changes. We have nearly doubled the number of students taking and receiving college credit from Advanced Placement courses over the past five years, and we have also nearly tripled the number of students concurrently enrolled in college-level courses. The percent of concurrently enrolled students receiving As, Bs, or Cs in these college level courses (and therefore college credit) is over 80 percent. And these increases cross all racial and socioeconomic groups. Our district also has posted double-digit gains in math and reading proficiency on state assessments over the past five years. Our mission at DPS is to ensure that all of our students graduate high school and successfully pursue postsecondary opportunities and become successful world citizens. This is an important mission in that it sets a high bar that requires that we implement a system district-wide that meets the needs of all of our students regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what their previous academic performance may have been. Aligning mission to Denver Plan This mission aligns with the 2010 Denver Plan goal of being the best urban school district in the country. It says that we recognize and appreciate the diversity within our student population and the many unique needs of our students and we are making it our responsibility to construct a system that prepares all students for success in the college and career opportunities they seek. READ THE REST OF THIS STORY IN THE BLOG ARCHIVE
May 19, 2011
Analysis: Sorting out the 2011 session
The 2011 legislative session won’t go down in history as having a significant impact on education policy. But even quiet sessions have consequences.
May 9, 2011
Higher ed performance bill passes
Updated - The higher education performance funding bill is on its way to the governor.
April 4, 2011
Parent involvement bill passes Senate
Budget discussions dominated Monday at the Capitol, but two education bills advanced in the Senate and House.
March 15, 2011
Hick, Bennet join NCLB reform push
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet Tuesday enlisted in the Obama administration’s campaign to reform the No Child Left Behind law.
March 14, 2011
House Ed kills trigger bill
The parent trigger bill was killed in committee Monday, while the concussion and recess bills advanced in floor action.
February 28, 2011
Education tax, parent ‘trigger’ surface
A proposed tax bailout for education and a bill giving parents a tool to force closure of failing schools rolled out Monday.
February 24, 2011
Turnaround bill delayed for more work
A bill that proposes changes in how districts handle turnaround schools was pulled off the table Thursday at the sponsor’s request.
February 10, 2011
Superintendent: Waiver best for small district
A tiny Eastern Plains school district is seeking a waiver from one education reform law by invoking the terms of a different reform statute.
January 27, 2011
Bill would expand turnaround choices
A new bill would increase options for turnaround schools and require greater public scrutiny of such plans. Plus roundup
January 26, 2011
Lawmakers zero in on testing
Legislators were mostly interested in talking about testing during the Department of Education's annual oversight hearing.
January 10, 2011
EdNews 2011 legislative preview
Many in education are hoping 2011 will be the first Colorado legislative session in three years without a “big” education reform bill.
December 6, 2010
SBE adopts framework for new state tests
State Board members approved specifications for a new testing system, including social studies, and hired a commissioner search firm.
November 29, 2010
Boards endorse social studies CSAPs
Colorado students should be tested on social studies at least three times during their K-12 careers, the state’s two top education boards proposed Monday.
October 21, 2010
Next step begins in quest for new tests
The experts have done their work; now it’s up to Colorado’s two education boards to figure out the CSAP replacement
September 15, 2010
Frustrated with city's data system, teachers build their own
Created by teachers at the High School for Telecommunication, DataCation collects and analyzes student data, rivaling the city's own database. When he began teaching at a Bronx high school, Jesse Olsen found the school had a large blind spot when it came to taking attendance. If a student came to class for the first half of the school day and then skipped out, she'd go down in the official record as being present for the full day. The information holes made it impossible for teachers to know what their students' true attendance was like, Olsen said. A new, sophisticated database known as ARIS, for Achievement Reporting and Innovation System, might have been just the thing to solve the problem. But the system only let schools see how many days a student had missed, not how many classes they were skipping. So Olsen took matters into his own hands, drawing on his computer science training to build an attendance system for his school, Validus Preparatory Academy. In doing so he joined a growing number of teachers who don't rely on the city's data tools to track student information. Brought into the city's public schools in 2008 as a major initiative of Chancellor Joel Klein, ARIS cost $80 million to make. It debuted at the same time that Klein began to ask teachers to keep close track of student data and use it to adjust their instruction.
September 15, 2010
New testing system starts to take shape
State Board of Education members have gotten some interesting news about "electronic" report cards and some disquieting budget news.
August 2, 2010
Colorado signs on to common standards
The Colorado State Board of Education and California’s state board Monday adopted the Common Core Standards in language arts and math.
June 16, 2010
A tale of two Bronx schools: similar scores but different ratings
Two elementary schools in the South Bronx, P.S. 161 and P.S. 277, are half a mile apart. They are both mid-sized, high-poverty elementary schools serving mostly Hispanic students. Last school year, both schools had similar percentages of their students passing state exams in math, reading, and science. But under the city's progress report card grading system, P.S. 161 was ranked in the top fifth of schools, and P.S. 277 was ranked in the bottom fifth. Why? The reasons are highlighted in a new report whose authors examined each school in-depth. Visiting P.S. 277, the report's co-author Clara Hemphill found engaged students and energetic teachers. But its well-rounded curriculum — which teaches skills that are part of state standards but not tested on standardized exams — isn't weighted heavily in the city's report card accounting. The school also has a high poverty rate and lots of homeless kids, but the progress report system doesn't count those students when determining whether the school serves a challenging population.
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