Sunday, May 31, 2009

High School Numbers Exposed

My colleague, Marc Epstein, exposes the suspect promotion and graduation numbers in New York City high schools in today's Daily News.

There's credit recovery so students need not pass a test or do homework all year and they can still get course credit. There's watered down summer school. There are annualized courses so if a pupil fails in the fall, don't worry, he/she just passes in June and receives credit for the whole year. In addition, part of a Chancellors' Regulation that requires 90% attendance to graduate is apparently being ignored. The high school diploma is being rendered meaningless.

At Jamaica High School, we often joke that each school is soon going to have a "drive through window" so anyone who drives by will get a diploma. From what we have heard, Jamaica is playing catch up with other schools that are ahead of us in the credit recovery and annualization games.

Since school grades and principal as well as teacher bonuses are now based on student standardized test scores, promotion and graduation rates, it has ironically led to a new era of social promotion.

Is this the system the state legislature really wants to continue?

We are not saying that there are never extenuating circumstances when a student needs some extra assistance to get through. Unfortunately, with high stakes decisions about a school being made based upon student statistics, it looks as though adults are doing what they have to do with the numbers to protect and advance their positions. We're given a scary choice to either push students through or push them out so school statistics look good. How about offering lower class sizes in every class and reasonable guidance caseloads as an alternative?

If something isn't done, we will be causing incalculable damage to a generation of young people by calling them high school graduates and handing them meaningless pieces of paper. We also risk devaluing the hard earned diplomas of the many pupils who actually attend class and work hard to graduate from high school without being pushed through.

There has to be a better way than this to educate our next generation.

7 comments:

Diplomas said...

Unbelievable. I knew there was a reason graduation rates were so good.

Pogue said...

Fantastically written article. I am so surprised the Daily News included it along with their editorial-ad-nauseum praising mayoral control again. Mortimer Zuckerman, Bloomberg, McGraw-Hill, and even Randi must be pissed. Great job, Mr. Epstein.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. I would have also included the following:

Since schools are graded,in part, on the number of students who get their credits on time, teachers (myself included) have been put under tremendous pressure to pass,pass,pass every student. It's really a disgrace.

It's really ironic that the higher the standards, the lower the actual achievements.

UA said...

Same is true for some other push-em-thru "promotion"techniques:

Tweed's Leadership Academy: where people can become "principals" without much classroom experience

Teach for America: where people can become "teachers" (NOT) by taking a crash course over the summer.

Chancellorships: where people can become "chancellors" without any teaching or educational management experience, or even community-based work.

We're in an era of fake. Until everyone takes to the streets, there will be no change.

Anonymous said...

I bet the DOE wants to run a second business besides charter schools. They want to promote students without Math and Reading skills and create Remedial Colleges as the ones we already have.

Anonymous said...

Are charter colleges next?

UFT BUSTER said...

This is going on all over the city," The Classic Comic Book Education". Grades are changed all the test are watered down. Regents tests all that is neede to pass is a raw score of 35 out of 85 points. Figure out the math it's about a 30 point curve and the students still cannot pass. What is next a take home regents or on line regent examinations. It's insane and Bloomberg and Klein know exactly what is going on. When the truth finally hits the media big time they will claim no knowledge of any wrong doing and blame it all on the teachers.