Sunday, November 27, 2016
Without a safe learning environment nothing will improve. A graduation rate of 51%? Are the others destined for the drug trade?
State officials trumpeted improvement in low-performing schools last week — without mentioning that the bar for success was set extremely low.
A cheery state report said that 62 low-performing schools — including 27 in New York city — are doing better in various ways.
“I am encouraged that so many schools are showing signs of progress,” Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa gushed in a press release.
On average, the state said, schools labeled “struggling” or “persistently struggling” met 68 percent of their “targets” for improvement on measures including attendance, state test scores, and graduation rates.
What the report didn’t say is that targets were set at a 1 percent increase across the board — and the schools had two years to achieve them.
Boys and Girls HS in Bedford-Stuyvesant was one of the schools cited for improving in some ways.
It had a target to raise its 44 percent four-year graduation rate in the 2013-14 school year by 1 percentage point, to 45 percent, in the 2015-16 school year. It exceeded that target, granting diplomas to 51 percent of students last year.
But the high school fell short on another major test — a failure glossed over by the state report.
Boys and Girls’ had to raise the “college readiness” rate, which is based on Regents exam scores, from 7.3 percent in 2013-2014 to 8.3 percent in the 2015-2016 school year. Instead, the number of “college ready” grads dropped to a dismal 6.7 percent.
Critics called the targets “laughably low.”
“To hit their benchmarks, schools had to make gains so small as to be almost meaningless,” said Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group. “It isn’t surprising that schools hit 68 percent of their ‘targets’ — what’s surprising is that they failed to hit the remaining 32 percent.”
David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor, said the real problem is a concentration of high-need kids in the schools — largely those living in poverty or homelessness, and many whose parents lack sufficient education.
“These schools are designed for failure,” Bloomfield said. “They fail so that others can succeed. If you put the hardest-to-teach children in one building, it relieves the pressure on others.”
He faulted Mayor de Blasio for condoning the lopsided system. “The Department of Education doesn’t have a significant effort towards diversity, and the state isn’t pressuring the city to do anything about it.”
Some statistics about Bed-Stuy"