The New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) release of the 2014 school report card reveals these stark facts:
- 630 (or 89%) of 711 school districts failed to meet one or more annual yearly progress (AYP) targets.
- 2969 (or 68%) of 4369 schools failed to meet one or more AYP targets.
Yes, there are so many ways for the NYSED to deem your school or district failing. And failure comes with consequences.
There are onerous local assistance plans and district comprehensive improvement plans required. These plans consume massive amounts of local resources with questionable impact. After all, despite the fact that improvement teams have been submitting these plans for years, New York’s districts and schools failed to meet an astonishing 24,463 AYP targets last year.
Under the leadership of Merryl Tisch, the NYSED has fetishized failure, distorting overall school performance.
In a recent editorial, New York State Assembly Minority leader Brian Kolb points to the Geneva City School District as a prime example:
The Geneva City School District has been doing incredible work preparing students for graduation, college admission, and entering the workforce. For its efforts, Geneva was recently recognized nationally by District Administration Magazine as a “District of Distinction.” But despite its national honor, according to today’s complicated education standards Geneva is inexplicably labeled as a struggling school district.
The District of Distinction award cited Geneva for rigorous STEM courses, innovative partnerships with the local health care system and Hobart College, its rising graduation rates (from 66% in 2006 to 81% in 2014), and increased AP participation and performance. Yet the NYSED school report card dings Geneva for failing to meet 29 AYP targets.
Fortunately, relief may be on its way. Yesterday, the United States Senate announced a bipartisan bill to revise the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and eliminate its most punitive elements. According to The New York Times:
The bill retains the requirement for yearly tests in math and reading for every student in third through eighth grade, and once in high school, and requires that the scores, broken down by race and income, be made public.
But it ends the framework under which almost all public schools were found to be failing, and could defuse what has become an all-out campaign by teachers, joined by many parents, to prevent having their job performances measured by students’ test scores.
Relief from the unrelentingly punitive nature of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) can not come soon enough to New York State schools.