under pressure

under pressure

under pressure

New York

Facing own teacher eval deadline, charter schools just say no

wallyg via flickr At the same time as the State Education Department is publicly pressuring school districts to adopt new teacher evaluations by next month, it's also quietly demanding that charter schools turn in their teachers’ ratings from last year. Charter school advocates are urging most school leaders to ignore the demand, even though state officials  have said it's needed in order to fulfill its Race to the Top plan. The advocates say the demand would be hard to fulfill and impinges on charter schools’ autonomy. The standoff has its roots in the state’s 2010 application for federal Race to the Top funds. In its application to the U.S. Department of Education for funding, New York State said it would require schools to rate teachers according to specific guidelines and would collect ratings for all teachers, even in charter schools. Some charter schools committed to sharing their teacher ratings at the time in order to receive some of the state’s $700 million in winnings. But two thirds did not — and the state wants their teacher ratings too, according to a series of updated guidance memos that officials have issued over the last 18 months. City and state charter school advocates have pushed back against the demands throughout that time. “Both the New York City Charter School Center and the New York Charter Schools Association believe that this reporting requirement does not properly apply to non-Race to the Top charter schools,” Charter Center CEO James Merriman and NYCSA President Bill Phillips wrote in a strongly worded email to school leaders last month. They added, “Ultimately, it is up to you whether you choose to report this data.” So far, few school leaders have made that choice. By the original submission deadline Nov. 30, just 30 of 184 charter schools in the state had handed over teacher ratings from last year.
New York

Required to help ELLs, city to open 125 new bilingual programs

The city will launch 125 new bilingual programs under the terms of a required plan to improve the treatment of students who are classified as English language learners. Test scores and high school graduation rates for ELLs lag far behind the city average, and last summer the state told then-Chancellor Joel Klein to produce a "corrective action plan" for how to serve the students better. That plan, released today and posted below, sets out an ambitious remediation schedule — and also highlights just how much the city has lagged in providing legally mandated services to ELLs. In the plan, the city promises to reduce the number of ELLs whose teachers are not trained to work with them and to punish schools that fail to provide services to which ELLs are entitled. It also promises to launch 125 new bilingual programs by 2013, including 20 this school year, on top of the 397 that are already open. The new programs will open in districts with many ELLs and where parents say they prefer their children placed in classrooms where instruction takes place in two languages, rather than in English-only classes with extra help for non-native speakers. The city has hired Ernst & Young, an auditing group, to monitor whether parents' choices are honored. Some of the new programs will open in high school campuses where no bilingual instruction currently takes place. When he approved several school closures in July, State Education Commissioner John King expressed concern about whether new high schools would serve the same students who attended the schools that closed. The plan commits to opening new programs when existing ones phase out along with their schools.
New York

Instead of giving or denying tenure, city is deferring decisions

Under pressure from the Bloomberg administration to make tenure tougher to receive, principals and superintendents are withholding job protections from some young teachers. Instead of simply granting or denying tenure at the end of a teacher's third year, they are extending the probationary period for some teachers by another year. In 2006, just 30 teachers had their probation extended. As the city has moved to toughen all teacher evaluations, that number has risen steadily, to 465 last year. Reports from teachers and principals suggest the trend is likely to continue when official numbers about the past year’s tenure decisions is released in the near future. The reports suggest that many superintendents, who make final tenure decisions based on principals’ recommendations, are responding to a directive that teachers who score low on a new rubric not get tenure. The city urged that teachers who scored in the "ineffective" range be denied tenure and teachers who fell in the "developing" range have their probations extended. A low score on the city's Teacher Data Report was particularly influential, even if other information, such as classroom observations, contradicted it, principals said. The reports, which only some teachers receive, use value-added formulas to estimate teachers' effectiveness at increasing students' test scores, and teachers with low scores are "red-flagged" in the city's tenure system. Of the nine teachers Principal Joe Lisa had up for tenure this year at IS 61 in Queens, six taught in subjects without data reports and received tenure. Three math teachers had their probationary periods extended. One in particular seemed to be a shoo-in, Lisa said. But his superintendent rejected the idea of giving her tenure this year.