The city Department of Education has been harming rather than helping poor-performing public schools

 

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The New York Annenberg Institute for School Reform compiled. Shocking report on the Bloomberg administration’s policy of dumping “over-the-counter” students into struggling schools or schools already set for closure. This as a terrible disservice to the students. For the already struggling schools, it was like throwing a concrete weight to a drowning man. Instead of support, the schools got the neediest students. It was a charade. Neither the students nor the schools got the help they needed. Was there no one at Tweed with a conscience? Or was it all a cynical numbers game, with students as the victims?

Here is the New York Post story, written by the fine reporter Yoav Gonen:

METRO NEW YORK POST

Dept. of Ed. ‘dumping’ tough students in struggling schools

By Yoav Gonen

October 10, 2013 | 3:56am

The city Department of Education has been harming rather than helping poor-performing public schools by assigning them many of the most challenging kids, according to a new analysis of enrollment data.

The study by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, relying on data secured from the city by The Post, is the first to confirm complaints that struggling schools have been unfairly burdened with high-needs kids who enroll in the school system late.

The students who don’t participate in the regular high-school selection process — known as “over the counter,” or OTC, students — are likelier to be new immigrants, have special needs, be homeless or have a prior history of behavioral issues.

Yet the DOE knowingly assigned huge numbers of them to dozens of schools that were either already being shuttered for poor performance or that were subsequently approved for closure, the study found.

“Compelling evidence suggests that the DOE’s inequitable assignment of OTC students to struggling high schools reduces the opportunities for success for both the students and their schools,” said Norm Fruchter, an Annenberg associate and one of the study’s authors.

At Sheepshead Bay HS in Brooklyn, the percentage of OTC kids assigned each year grew from 18 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2011 — well above the average for large high schools. After the school’s performance began to suffer, it was approved for closure earlier this year.

In The Bronx, Christopher Columbus HS took in between 32 and 40 percent of its population over the counter each year from 2008 to 2010. Despite being approved for closure in 2011, it was still assigned 37 percent of its enrollment through OTC placements that year.
“We reconfigured our academic and support programs to meet the needs of our very sizable annual percentage of OTC students,” said Christine Rowland, a teacher at Columbus.

“But without sufficient resources, the burden on the school staff was enormous.”

DOE officials said that during the annual spring-enrollment process, the best high schools “tend to have the fewest seats available for students who enroll on the first day or midyear.”

Yet it wasn’t until state education officials expressed concern about the over-concentration of high-needs kids in struggling schools that the DOE began setting aside additional seats in the best schools last year.

 

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