Posts tagged ‘New York State’

October 30, 2014

Vocational high school diploma gets a boost in New York

by Grace

New York endorses the vocational high school option with new graduation requirements.

Earlier this week the “Board of Regents approved a plan for a “4+1″ option, which would allow students to pass an exam in career-and-technical education, the arts, a different math or science, or a language other than English in lieu of one of the history exams”.  The new plan is called Pathways To Graduation.

Proponents of the change say it would underscore the academic value of career training and because tests often drive what is taught, it would spur schools to expand vocational programs.

Now, students need to pass five Regents exams: one each in math, English and science, and two in social studies.

Under the proposal, students could choose to skip one of the social studies exams—either American history or global history—and take one in Career and Technical Education, or an extra science or math exam. If adopted Monday, the change would affect current seniors.

The options could grow, but 13 proposed Career and Technical Education tests now include graphic arts, electronics, carpentry and hospitality management, and the exams would reflect several years of coursework. They are industry-certification tests such as the CompTIA A+, a test created by a consortium of information-technology companies.

The expectation is for improved graduation rates, now at 75%.

…The union, business leaders, and the commissioner are all supportive of the plan.

Proponents deny that Pathways is just making it easier to graduate.

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said while many people assume vocational education has less rigor and fewer opportunities, career and technical-education courses have become more complex and demanding, and prepare students for fields with good pay. He said rather than diverting students from college, such routes often inspire them to pursue higher education, even if after a stint in the workplace.

He said the technical tests would be at least as tough as the Regents exams. He said the National Electrical Code studied by teenagers who want to be electricians, for example, has a “degree of text complexity that is at least as high, if not higher, than novels that would be typically read by 12th-graders.”

Final approval is expected in January, and changes could be implemented in time for this school year.

———

Leslie Brody, “New York Prepares a New Exam to Boost Career Training”, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 19, 2014.

Debra Viadero, “Vocational Pathways Approved for Graduation in New York State”, Education Week, Oct. 22, 2014.

August 8, 2014

Common Core proficiency rates were selected to match SAT college readiness rates

by Grace

Passing rates for Common Core New York state tests were selected so that they would match SAT college readiness rates.  Principal Carol Burris of New York City’s South Side High School described the process in a Washington Post article titled “The scary way Common Core test ‘cut scores’ are selected”.

One of the first steps in the process was the creation of a report requested by State Education Commissioner John King.

… The College Board was asked to correlate SAT scores with college grades to create probabilities of college success….

These SAT college readiness scores were then used to “inform” the selection of state test cut scores for grades three through eight.

After coming up with three scores — 540 in math, 560 in reading and 530 in writing– the College Board determined the percentage of New York students who achieved those SAT scores. Those percentages were used to “inform” the cut score setting committee. As the committee went through questions, according to member Dr. Baldassarre-Hopkins, the SED helpers said, “If you put your bookmark on page X for level 3 [passing], it would be aligned with these data [referring to the college readiness data],” thus nudging the cut score where they wanted it to be.

The state test cut scores that were ultimately selected align suspiciously close to the SAT college readiness scores.

When the cut scores were set, the overall proficiency rate was 31 percent–close to the commissioner’s prediction. The proportion of test takers who score 1630 on the SAT is 32 percent. Coincidence? Bet your sleeveless pineapple it’s not. Heck, the way I see it, the kids did not even need to show up for the test.

In a way, it makes sense.  Common Core Standards were created to prepare students for college, so it could be argued that students now in grade school would be as poorly prepared for college as students who have recently taken the SAT.  But the process seems to have been carried out backwards, without looking objectively at the test questions.

Burris puts it this way.

Here is the bottom line. There is no objective science by which we can predict future college readiness using grades 3-8 test scores. You can, at best make assumptions, based on correlations, with score thresholds that are capricious. To make college readiness predictions for 8-year-olds is absurd and unkind.

I think you can assess whether an 8-year-old is on track for college readiness, but obviously with limited precision.  However, I appreciate the point Burris makes.  Moreover, considering the botched implementation of other aspects of CCS, I am inclined to be suspicious about the validity of the cut scores used in the New York state tests.

A local newspaper reported that some committee members involved in selecting cut scores believed “the process was so tightly controlled that the results were inevitable”.

———

Valerie Strauss, “The scary way Common Core test ‘cut scores’ are selected”, Washington Post, April 29, 2014.

Gary Stern, “Common Core: Who’s on track for college and who is not?”, Lohud.com, July 27, 2014.

July 25, 2014

Where are the most racially segregated schools?

by Grace

The Nation’s Most Segregated Schools Aren’t Where You’d Think They’d Be

The Huffington Post reports that the “nation’s most segregated schools aren’t in the deep south — they’re in New York”.  This was from a report released earlier this year by the UCLA Civil Rights Project.

That means that in 2009, black and Latino students in New York “had the highest concentration in intensely-segregated public schools,” in which white students made up less than 10 percent of enrollment and “the lowest exposure to white students,” wrote John Kucsera, a UCLA researcher, and Gary Orfield, a UCLA professor and the project’s director. “For several decades, the state has been more segregated for blacks than any Southern state, though the South has a much higher percent of African American students,” the authors wrote. The report, “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation,” looked at 60 years of data up to 2010, from various demographics and other research.

There’s also a high level of “double segregation,” Orfield said in an interview, as students are increasingly isolated not only by race, but also by income: the typical black or Latino student in New York state attends a school with twice as many low-income students as their white peers. That concentration of poverty brings schools disadvantages that mixed-income schools often lack: health issues, mobile populations, entrenched violence and teachers who come from the least selective training programs. “They don’t train kids to work in a society that’s diverse by race and class,” he said. “There’s a systematically unequal set of demands on those schools.”

New York City schools are the most segregated.

…  Of the city’s 32 Community School Districts, 19 had 10 percent or fewer white students in 2010. All school districts in the Bronx fell into that category. More than half of New Yorkers are black or Latino, but most neighborhoods have little diversity — and recent changes in school enrollment policies, spurred by the creation of many charter schools, haven’t helped, Orfield argues.

Charter schools tend to be extremely segregated.

Only 8 percent of New York City charter schools are considered multiracial, meaning they had a white enrollment of 14.5 percent or above, the New York City average. “Charter schools take the metro’s segregation to an extreme,” according to the report. “Nearly all charters” in the Bronx and Brooklyn were “intensely segregated” in 2010, meaning they had less than 10 percent white student enrollment….

… Charter schools in urban areas tend to be segregated, in part, because they seek to serve specific low-income communities. Some intentionally cater to one race, with a focus on black culture.

Other top states are also located in the North.

Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and New Jersey followed New York on the most-segregated-schools list.

Segregation may be the least of the problems faced by schools.

I don’t think segregation is the biggest problem schools must face.  In many cases, as charter schools show, segregation is simply the result of a school’s mission to serve a particular type of student.  Furthermore, past attempts at desegregation have often failed to meet their goals but instead created new problems for minority students.  I’ve seen firsthand desegregation attempts that created white flight and left urban schools in worse shape than before.

———

Joy Resmovits, “The Nation’s Most Segregated Schools Aren’t Where You’d Think They’d Be”, Huffington Post, 03/26/201.

May 21, 2014

Apply now for the New York State STEM full-tuition scholarship

by Grace

The deadline to apply for the newly introduced New York State STEM scholarship is August 14.

The NYS STEM Incentive Program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship for the top 10 percent of students in each New York State high school if they pursue a STEM degree in an associates or bachelor degree program and agree to work in a STEM field in New York State for 5 years after graduation.

The dual goals of the program include helping students pursue STEM careers and promoting the state’s economy.

Innovative programs like the STEM Incentive Awards will help students compete in academic fields essential to the future of our state and nation,” said CUNY Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly.

“Through this program, New York State is helping to foster a connection between a student’s interest in STEM and their ability to successfully pursue a STEM career,” said Elsa Magee, Acting President of New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), the state agency that will administer the program. “These awards will encourage more of our most talented students to pursue their love of science, technology, engineering and math in New York State, which benefits our State economy directly and the global economy, generally.”

Failing to fulfill the program requirements can result in significant penalties.  For example, if a recipient does not complete the STEM degree or does not follow through after graduation on the requirement to work “full-time for five years in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math in New York State, while maintaining residency within the State”, he must pay back the award.

The full list of approved occupations includes farmers, computer programmers, web developers, actuaries, cartographers, engineers, and secondary and postsecondary science teachers.

There does seem to be some flexibility in the choice of occupations.

20140518.COCNYSSTEMScholarshipFarmer1

Related:  “Free tuition at New York state universities for top STEM students?” (Cost of College)

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 Sarah Darville, “State launches STEM scholarship for SUNY, CUNY-bound grads”, Chalkbeat New York, May 6, 2014.

February 18, 2014

Free tuition at New York state universities for top STEM students?

by Grace

The proposed New York State budget includes a provision to offer free tuition to top students who choose to major in STEM fields.

“New this year under the governor’s budget proposal, some students at the top of their classes will have a chance to skip tuition payments entirely. Those who plan to major in a field related to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects would receive free tuition to any SUNY or CUNY institution, as long as they remain in the state for five years after graduation to pursue their careers. The $8 million budget line is intended to help reverse the “brain drain” of the best and brightest from New York State.”

Students must graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class to qualify for the scholarships.

Details must be worked out.

Final budget approval is expected this spring.  Questions have been raised about how the requirement to stay in the state for five years after graduation would affect students who wish to attend graduate school.  One estimate predicts funding is only sufficient for 166 four-year scholarships, so it is possible that demand will be greater than supply.

Related:

August 28, 2013

Public school administration staff surges in growth while test scores plunge

by Grace

The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools

America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.

20130812.COCUSK12StaffingBloat19501

Between FY 1992 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students nationwide grew 17 percent while the number of full-time equivalent school employees increased 39 percent, 2.3 times greater than the increase in students over that 18-year period. Among school personnel, teachers’ staffing numbers rose 32 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 46 percent; the growth in the number of administrators and other staff was 2.7 times that of students.

20130812.COCUSK12StaffingBloat19921


Here are the staggering growth rates for New York State.

20130812.COCK12StaffingBloat1


ADMINISTRATORS OUTNUMBER TEACHERS IN 25 STATES, an increase from the original report.

From the report:

Twenty-one “Top-Heavy States” employed fewer teachers than other non-teaching personnel in 2009. Thus, those 21 states have more administrators and other non-teaching staff on the public payroll than teachers. Virginia “leads the way” with 60,737 more administrators and other non-teaching staff than teachers in its public schools.

Professor Mark Perry updated staffing numbers for 2010, and was amazed to find the “administrative and non-teaching bloat” in America’s public schools has gotten even worse, with 25 states now employing more “educrats than teachers.”  Across the entire country, there is a one-to-one ratio of teachers to non-teaching staff.

PUBLIC SCHOOL STAFFING IN UNITED STATES (2010)

TEACHERS

NON-TEACHING STAFF

NON-TEACHING STAFF PER 100 TEACHERS

3,099,095

3,096,113

99.9


In related news, New York students’ scores take huge plunge in new state school tests.

Statewide, only 31 percent of students in third through eighth grades met or exceeded the proficiency standards in English and math this year, a drop of more than half compared with last year….

September 26, 2012

Quick Takes – New York test scores may drop next year, mining jobs pay better than Ivy League degree, girls still avoid shop class, and more

by Grace

—   Changes in New York’s standardized tests next year may cause scores to drop.

That is because the state is moving quickly to put in place new curriculum standards, called Common Core, which stress more critical thinking to help prepare students for college and careers. The state’s math and English exams, therefore, will for the first time be testing students on elements of the Common Core.

Students taking the English exams next year, for instance, will be asked to analyze and compare passages, rather than summarize them. In math, fractions, rather than probability or statistics, will be stressed.

“I would not be surprised if the test scores next year would drop, because it will be a whole new test based on much higher standards,” said one state education official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “The Common Core is a much more rigorous set of standards.”

Aaron Pallas, professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, who is an expert on city schools data, also predicted there may be a drop in scores next year.

“It’s almost always the case when there’s a fundamental change in a test format that scores go down,” Dr. Pallas said. “So there’s going to be discontinuity. That’s one reason why it’s hard to make judgments from one year to the next when there’s several moving pieces.”

He added: “It will take some time and next year will be a new baseline from which we can look forward to see how things are happening over the next three or four years.”


—  Forget Harvard.  Go for the big bucks in mining careers.

Harvard University’s graduates are earning less than those from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology after a decade-long commodity bull market created shortages of workers as well as minerals.

Those leaving the college of 2,300 students this year got paid a median salary of $56,700, according to PayScale Inc., which tracks employee compensation data from surveys. At Harvard, where tuition fees are almost four times higher, they got $54,100. Those scheduled to leave the campus in Rapid City, South Dakota, in May are already getting offers, at a time when about one in 10 recent U.S. college graduates is out of work.
Harvard Losing Out to South Dakota in Graduate Pay: Commodities (Bloomberg)


—  Why don’t more girls enroll in shop class?  “Stigma”, according to NPR

The Shop Class Stigma: What Title IX Didn’t Change (NPR)

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, which said no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from any education program or activity. Vocational education courses that barred girls — such as auto mechanics, carpentry and plumbing — became available for everyone. But it’s still hard to find girls in classes once viewed as “for boys only.”…

Now, for the most part, schools don’t discriminate or deny girls educational opportunities. Yet, the conclusion by a National Women’s Law Center study a few years ago raised a different point.

Boys are still routinely steered toward courses that lead to higher-paying careers in technology and trades. Meanwhile, 90 percent of students in courses that lead to lower-wage jobs, like child care and cosmetology, are female.

I don’t accept that a male/female imbalance for a particular occupation is necessarily a problem that must be fixed by legislation.  But if there is a problem of pushing girls towards lower-wage jobs, the NPR story used a poor example to show this since the girl in the story was steered away from auto mechanics toward engineering.   Her family encouraged her to aim for a higher paying job in a field dominated by men, not exactly a fit with the NPR’s narrative.


—  Reading the classics may improve executive function and other attention-related abilities.

Reading a classic novel such as “Pride and Prejudice” can be entertaining, but, according to new research by a Michigan State University professor, it also can provide many other benefits beyond that….

… blood flow was increased in areas of the brain far beyond those responsible for what cognitive scientists call “executive function,” regions normally associated with tasks that require close attention, such as studying, doing complex math problems or reading intensely….

“It’s early, but what this research suggests so far is that core skills in the liberal arts have immense cognitive complexity,” she said. “It’s not only the books we read, but also the act of thinking rigorously about them that’s of value, exercising the brain in critical ways.”

The work also brings together scientists and literary scholars to explore the relationship between reading, attention and distraction.

Imagine that.  Assigning students books with higher levels of text complexity is good for learning.

Related:  High school students are assigned too many FIFTH-GRADE books (Cost of College)

September 5, 2012

Quick Takes – College scholarships by race, UVA in-state quota, managing student loans, etc.

by Grace

—  The Distribution of Grants and Scholarships by Race  (Mark Kantrowitz, FinAid.org)

This paper presents data concerning the distribution of grants and scholarships by race. It debunks the race myth, which claims that minority students receive more than their fair share of scholarships. The reality is that minority students are less likely to win private scholarships or receive merit-based institutional grants than Caucasian students. Among undergraduate students enrolled full-time/full-year in Bachelor’s degree programs at four-year colleges and universities, minority students represent about a third of applicants but slightly more than a quarter of private scholarship recipients. Caucasian students receive more than three-quarters (76%) of all institutional merit-based scholarship and grant funding, even though they represent less than two-thirds (62%) of the student population. Caucasian students are 40% more likely to win private scholarships than minority students.  http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/20110902racescholarships.pdf

(This paper has lots of data on college financial aid.)


—  In-state student quota at University of Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia mandates that 2/3 of the students at the University be Virginia residents.  Beyond that, there are no quotas with respect to regions, counties, or high schools.
The UVA Admission Blog

California has a system-wide cap of 10% for out-of-state undergraduate students, and the University of North Carolina limits out-of-state freshmen to 18 percent on each campus.

Related:

—  A Web Site That Aims to Help Manage Student Loans 

A new Web site called Loanlook.com aims to help current students and graduates manage their financial aid and loans with less confusion. The site allows users to access federal loans and grants, but will be expanded to include private loans in about a month. (Parents can also register to see information about PLUS loans taken out on behalf of their children.)
(The New York Times)

—  New York State pension costs ‘will rise 10.6% for state, local governments‘.

ALBANY — Public pension costs are again set to rise in the next fiscal year, with both the state and local governments facing an average increase of 10.6 percent, according to figures released Friday.

Starting April 1, the state, counties and municipalities will contribute an average of 20.9 percent of most employees’ salaries into the state’s pension system, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. The contribution rate is 18.9 percent.


—  ‘Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge.’

“Many world-class performers have little formal education, and have amassed their wealth through the acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge,” he writes.
“Meanwhile, the masses are convinced that master’s degrees and doctorates are the way to wealth, mostly because they are trapped in the linear line of thought that holds them back from higher levels of consciousness…The wealthy aren’t interested in the means, only the end.”
From Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think.”

21 Ways Rich People Think Differently (Business Insider)

Another one:

Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.

February 7, 2012

High school graduation goals do not include getting students ready for college

by Grace

Sadly, I was not surprised to learn that our local high school does not include “college or career ready” as part of its goals for graduates.

The district has adopted graduation goals. A graduate of the Eastchester Schools will be:

  • A respectful individual
  • A life-long learner
  • An effective communicator
  • A complex thinker and problem solver
  • A competent and responsible user of technology

Words have consequences.

At our local school only 59% of high school graduates are  “college or career ready” *.  This at an annual  cost of about $23,389 per pupil.

I prefer the Obama administration’s articulation of goals – much more specific, concrete, and measurable.

The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college or a career.


Different school, similar problem
At a nearby school district, some parents are advocating that college preparation has to be front and center as goalsinstead of  other squishy priorities like global awareness, global responsibility, and 21st century skills.

* UPDATE:  I changed “college ready” to “college or career ready” to accurately reflect what was measured.  In other words, 59% were not prepared for “post-secondary” success as determined by New York’s Aspirational Performance Measure (APM).

December 13, 2011

New York teachers will no longer grade their own students’ standardized tests

by Grace

Teachers in New York State will no longer be grading their own students’ standardized tests.  This is a welcome change, considering that New York has a long-standing problem with inflated state test scores and a history of teacher intervention skewing the normal statistical distribution of grades.

The ban, which will go into effect in the 2012-13 school year for all elementary school, middle school and high school standardized exams, will reverse a longstanding practice that State Education Department officials say is inappropriate in an era when student test scores are used to evaluate teachers and principals. It is also a move to avoid the kind of cheating scandals that have erupted in cities like Atlanta and Washington….

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