Process of elimination

New York

Among 24 schools city says it could close, some familiar names

Marc Sternberg, the Department of Education deputy chancellor in charge of school closures, said the city would consider whether to phase out 24 struggling high schools. Seven high schools that the city tried in vain to close last year are among the two dozen that the Department of Education might move to shutter this year. Department officials announced today that they had added 24 high schools to the list of schools they are considering closing. The schools join 36 elementary and middle schools already slated for “early engagement” meetings, the first step in the city's school closure process. The department named those schools in October but postponed the meetings because of Hurricane Sandy. The high schools were culled from 60 whose progress report scores made them eligible for closure under the city's rules. Their test scores, attendance, graduation rates, and readiness for college do not measure up to city standards, according to Deputy Schools Chancellor Marc Sternberg, the department official who oversees school closures, who said the schools' presence on the early engagement list indicates that they have deep problems to address. "What we see in a school that can't demonstrate the capacity to improve dramatically and to improve quickly is a calcification of the systems that lead to good schools," Sternberg told reporters in a briefing on the reports this afternoon. "The adults are not communicating clearly and well with each other, there's a lack of collaboration, a lack of organizational alignment that will enable the kind of instruction we know is important and necessary to lead to good outcomes."
New York

Dozens of elementary and middle schools told they might close

J.H.S. 166 in Brooklyn is one of 36 elementary and middle schools that the Department of Education has put on notice because of poor performance. Three dozen schools that received low grades from the Department of Education on Monday are already getting notice that the city is gravely worried about their performance. Department of Education officials have identified 36 schools — including 15 middle schools and 25 schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx — for an “early engagement” process that could lead either to closure or another lease on life. This is the third year that the city, eager to stem some of the public outcry over school closures, has held conversations with low-performing schools before announcing which schools it plans to close. This year's closures will be the last of the Bloomberg administration. The potential closure list is nearly twice as long as last year's, when the city held early engagement meetings at 20 elementary and middle schools and ultimately moved to close 10 of them. It is culled from 217 schools whose progress report scores put them at risk of closure, according to the city's rules. This year's list includes several schools that have already had closure scares. Two schools, M.S. 142 in the Bronx and Brooklyn's General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science, went through early engagement last year. (Chappie's sister elementary school is now in the process of closing.) M.S. 142 and another school, J.H.S. 166 in Brooklyn, were also slated to undergo a different closure process called "turnaround" last year until the city was forced to abandon those plans. The list also includes two charter schools that the city allowed to open, Bronx Community Charter School and Mott Haven Academy Charter School, which serves students in the foster care system. Both of the schools are up for renewal this year. Department officials compiled the shortlist by looking at schools’ progress report grades, their Quality Reviews, the results of state evaluations, and the efforts they’ve already undertaken to improve.
New York

City adds high schools, charter schools to possible closure list

Three schools that are getting millions of dollars in federal aid are among 27 schools newly added to the list of schools that could be closed. Department of Education officials announced today that they had added 17 high schools, six charter schools, and the middle school grades of four secondary schools to the list of schools they are considering closing. The schools join 20 elementary and middle schools where the city began "early engagement" meetings in September about . The high school additions include three schools receiving federal "transformation" funding; troubled Lehman High School, which handed out the most suspensions in the city by far; and most schools that got F's on this year's progress reports. Seven of the schools are in the Bronx, where large high schools say they are straining to serve high numbers of needy students; five in Manhattan; three in Brooklyn; and two in Queens. Department officials compiled the shortlist by looking at schools’ progress report grades, their Quality Reviews, the results of state evaluations, and the efforts they’ve already undertaken to improve. But in holding early engagement meetings, the department hopes to learn why the schools are struggling and whether other efforts could help them, according to Marc Sternberg, the DOE deputy chancellor in charge of school closures. Echoing an argument that advocacy groups are pushing at schools on the potential closure list, teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said he thought the department was not entering the engagement meetings in good faith.
New York

City says it has started letting schools know they risk closure

Some schools who pulled low grades on the progress reports handed out last week are already getting notice that the city is seriously worried about their performance. Department of Education officials have identified 20 schools — 11 with middle school grades and 12 in Brooklyn alone — for "early engagement conversations" that could lead either to closure or another lease on life. This is the second year that the city, eager to stem some of the public outcry over school closures, has held conversations with low-performing schools before announcing which schools it plans to close. This year's notice comes even earlier than last year, by a few weeks. Department officials compiled the shortlist by looking at schools' progress report grades, their Quality Reviews, the results of state evaluations, and the efforts they've already undertaken to improve. But in starting the early conversations, the department hopes to learn why the schools are struggling and whether other efforts could help them, according to Marc Sternberg, the DOE deputy chancellor in charge of school closures. So far, the DOE has sent letters to elected officials in the schools' districts, the districts' elected parent councils, and their superintendents. Next, principals and DOE officials will jointly begin holding a series of meetings with families and teachers to discuss each individual schools' options. "We'll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options," Sternberg said in a statement. One principal, whose school received an F on its progress report, said she was "shocked and humiliated" when she found out her school would be listed publicly. "Even though the F grade implies that we’re failing, we’re certainly not a failing school and we're not failing our children," the principal said.