Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Good Schools, Bad Schools

 On Report Cards for N Y City Schools
Invisible Line Between 'A' and 'F'

This from Michael Winerip at the New York Times:
P.S. 30, on East 141st Street in the Bronx, received an A in its last city report card.
Yana Paskova for The New York Times
P.S. 30, on East 141st Street in the Bronx, received an A in its last city report card.
Public School 30 and Public School 179 are about as alike as two schools can be. They are two blocks apart in the South Bronx. Both are 98 percent black and Latino. At P.S. 30, 97 percent of the children qualify for subsidized lunches; at P.S. 179, 93 percent.

During city quality reviews - when Education Department officials make on-site inspections - both scored "proficient." The two have received identical grades for "school environment," a rating that includes attendance and a survey of parents', teachers' and students' opinions of a school. 

On the state math test, P.S. 30 did better in 2011, with 41 percent of students scoring proficient - a 3 or 4 - versus 29 percent for P.S. 179. 

But on the state English test, P.S. 179 did better, with 36 percent of its students scoring proficient compared with 32 percent for P.S. 30.

And yet, when the department calculated the most recent progress report grades, P.S. 30 received an A. 

And P.S. 179 received an F.

Is P.S. 30 among the best schools in the city and P.S. 179 among the worst? Very hard to know. How much can the city's report cards be trusted? Also very hard to know...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The irony behind all of this mistrust of teacher/school effectiveness and perceived value of quantitatively measured and scored ratings is that they all originate from the humans.

How many miscalculations have we as humans made ranging from making change for a dollar and balancing our checkbooks to runing out of fuel in jet liners and confusing metric and English measurements on satelite components?

I wish I could get folks to understand that these measurements are no more useful than their less "scientific" predeccessors but fortunately their own applications demonstrate their flaws.

I don't worry about our human demise to the science fiction terminators on judgement day because I know somewhere along the way someone will probably have screwed up of the calculations or plans. It part of being human, we should learn to accept it, instead of pretend that it can be overcome.