Thursday, October 17, 2013


The Annenberg Institute for Education Reform released a study last week showing that the New York City Department of Education disproportionately places Over the Counter students in what they call struggling schools.  This is about as surprising to people who work in high schools as saying that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Over the Counter students are those who register after the regular application and admission process has been completed.  These pupils tend to be, but are not always, more at risk of not completing a diploma in four years (for example: English Language Learners, Special Needs pupils, Students with Interrupted Formal Educations [they didn't attend school in their home countries], pupils who are overage and behind in credits, pupils living in poverty, young people who had been incarcerated, homeless, truants).

The report shows Columbus HS and Jamaica HS led the city's medium size high schools in Over the Counter Admissions from 2008-2011.  DUH!

I guess it's always nice to have some data to back up what everyone already knows: Our schools were set up to fail because we were given more at risk students to educate while at the same time supports were cut.

This is the unintended consequence of school choice.  When savvy students and parents select their schools, they fill up the prized schools quickly.  Everyone else is relegated to the schools that are left.

These remaining schools have a difficult time coping with so many at risk kids and then word spreads to avoid the school which then leads fewer students admitted through the regular process and more Over the Counter Admissions with no extra supports. This starts the downward spiral until the schools are eventually deemed failures and closed.

New schools that replace the old schools tend to take fewer of the Over the Counter kids so they have an advantage.  Over the Counter students go en masse to the next school targeted for closure until finally there will be no place to hide them.


Anonymous said...

What makes you think it is an unintended consequence? It looks to me like part of the plan. I teach in Newark in a renew school that is a block away from two charter schools. It is only a matter of time until my school is closed down and converted to a third charter school.

James Eterno said...

I guess I am trying not to be too cynical and give the reformers who talk school choice the benefit of the doubt. Your point is well taken.

Anonymous said...

Benefit of the doubt?

What doubts can there possibly be at this point?

James Eterno said...

There's no doubt in my mind but we have to take their arguments head on at face value before we can counter them and obliterate them.