Friday, June 27

Weekly news round-up: scoring students, scoring Klein, no more summer vacation?

It was the last week of school, and the big story was the generally higher test scores, although the controversy continues over what the scores actually mean. Chancellor Klein was riding high on the test results, although the teachers slammed his performance in a UFT survey. New Orleans superintendent Paul Vallas, said to be short-listed for an eventual successor, says that New York students might say bye-bye to future summer vacations. Large middle schools are the first in line on the chopping block, however, as Klein suggests that he plans to slice and dice them into smaller schools (reported first here, on our blog). Maybe smaller schools will tone down the 8th grade graduation frenzy. At best, they'll avoid serious issues, like apparent negligence in one Brooklyn junior high school.

Another study confirms what what we already know: there is a woeful lack of playgrounds at New York elementary schools. Let’s hope the new grade school in midtown includes outdoor play space.

The Times ended the school year with a summer storm of local and national school stories: career programs seem to work; a segregated retention program is, unsurprisingly, controversial; a NYC Harbor-based high school builds confidence (see their profile for more); an immigrant parent program boosts involvement; and rent assistance keeps helps families in one place, and kids from switching schools. Whew.

The Times also cautions: summer means bad nutrition. Keep healthy and cool!


Anonymous said...

I'm not crazy about the notion of longer school days, per Paul Vallas. I think it's a bad idea--longer school days so they can spend ever more time at test prep?

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with longer school days, so long as there's actually learning going on. So much of the 'extended school days' in NYC a couple of years ago were absolutely wasted on 'management' schemes and other ways of complying with the new reg without actually teaching the kids anything.
If teachers aren't supported, I will bet that very little will be accomplished in those extra hours.

Although I also think it's dangerous to rule out the value of test prep -- with one very important caveat: the test itself has to be legitimate and valuale. If what's being tested is actually substance and skill, there's no problem with teachers teaching that substance and skill. It's when the tests themselves don't measure what's supposed to be happening in the classroom, but instead measure how well students can fill in bubbles or rule out obviously wrong answers, that test prep becomes a totally vapid exercise.