A Look At Progress Reports
The progress reports that were released last month by the Department of Education and which graded New York City Public Schools on a scale of A to F were borne of good intentions. They aimed to provide parents with an overall assessment of public schools by evaluating factors such as standardized test scores, graduation rates, attendance, and student progress. In the end, however, rather than making parents feel more confident in their children’s schools or clearly identifying where improvements are needed, they instead generated skepticism and confusion. Sometimes good intentions can often be frustrated by poor execution. As with any new initiative, there will be issues that need to be addressed. Let us take the time NOW to ensure that next year, these reports will more accurately and fairly assess ALL New York City public schools.
We all agree a meaningful assessment of our schools, administrators and teachers is necessary to truly challenge this system and move our students forward. Although the concept of progress reports was a step in the right direction, many issues have emerged since their release. For example, the reports only assessed some public schools and not others. They also relied heavily on standardized test scores, grouped schools in an unclear way, and penalized schools where a large portion of students were performing at or above grade level. Schools with solid records of performance received below average grades.
We believe the progress reports should meet four basic challenges; they should be accurate, transparent, equitable and understandable. Progress reports are supposed to provide a clear lens into our schools, not vague notions. Moving forward, we must make certain that progress reports will:
• Hold the entire New York City public school system accountable, including District 75, 79, K-2 & City-funded Charter schools.
• Encompass more than just standardized tests scores by looking at students “holistically”.
• Measure schools by more than a single letter grade.
• Group schools fairly (including demographics, level of overcrowding and the number of Special Education and ELL students).
• Use data covering a minimum of three years to more accurately determine progress.
• Provide more opportunities for extra credit (especially for schools where students take college level courses).
• Coordinate with ongoing professional development on how to maintain, understand and analyze data.
• Take into account any intervention that is needed for students entering High School at levels 1 & 2.
We also must ensure additional supportive services are provided to schools in need, and we must all work together to find the most effective tools to properly measure our schools and improve student achievement.#
Ernest Logan is the President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.