Tuesday, July 1

Summer wish list: Questions for the DOE


We're hoping to take advantage of summer to ask the DOE questions about some things that confused many readers this year, both to understand what happened and explore what's on deck for 2008-09.

We want to know about middle-school admissions -- the calendar, the process, and how special-needs students can better be included. We want to know about gifted + talented programs -- admissions, lotteries, citywide schools, and qualifying tests. And we want to know how the DOE aims to prevent the pre-K admissions confusion that characterized this year's experience. We also have questions about centralization and how much decision-making power rests with the districts, for both K and middle school.

What do you want to know? Now's the time to write our wish list; with weeks to go before the pre-September ramp-up, we can try to get some answers. Let us hear from you.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just curious to see if there will be any plans on putting an official sibling policy that would be across the board for all schools. Currently, some schools have a policy and sibs are admitted for K (Example: Midtown West District 2( and other schools do not admit sibs.

Anonymous said...

I'd actually like to commend the DOE for their gifted and talented assessment this year. I think it's important to keep it from losing standards where schools or districts lower scores to reach a wider pool of people. Also, not many people are acknowledging favoritism in schools.

I would like to know who the consultants are for the g/t programs and would also like to see the DOE let the schools that will host new g/t classes know before the parents of kids who passed tests do.

I'd like to see pre-kindergarten admission go back to the schools, as long as schools have better methods for checking if kid is in the zone. Since parents can easily get a willing participant to put a con ed bill in their name three months before application process, something needs to be tighter on school's end. (Besides, it's not like centralizing admissions can stop people from faking addresses anyway!) DOE and schools need to work better together.

The timing of standardized tests is unfair. It needs to be way after holidays so at least kids can have a chance to get in the groove.

More playgrounds at schools!!!!

Smaller classes for all.

Anonymous said...

Seems that for the 7th grade ELA tests this year, many children who previously had scored at level 4, now scored at level 3. My child is in a g/t middle school class and many in the grade were disappointed to receive the first level 3 they had ever gotten.

My child missed a 4 on ELA by three points. His first score of 3 ever. This now affects the high school application process since one program of interest requires a "4" on both ELA and MAth. My child scored higher than last year on both Math and ELA, yet I fear this new score of 3 on ELA will leave my kid with fewer option.

Will there be any easing of restrictions when applying to high school programs requiring 4's on both ELA and Math?

It seems like if so many kids were affected by this decrease in scoring, something major changed either with the way the test was scored, or the levels were computed. Is there a way to get a copy of my child's test so I can see what went wrong?

All the DOE press releases tout the gains made at the lower end of the spectrum, but what about kids who fell from 4 to 3 for the first time? A few people I have spoken to, including someone who has in the past scored the test, believe it is an effort to homogenize all kids into a generic "3" category so it will look like great strides to equalize have been made. This helps no one if it is true.

Anonymous said...

Like to see DOE schedule a series of public forums to discuss there various issues. Needs to scheduled now, so there is ample time for people to plan. They clearly don't have the informed manpower to answer everyone's questions, so please provide us w/ forums up front.

Jennifer said...

I would like a greater understanding of the scoring on the ELA and Math exams. My 7th grader scored a 3 on the ELA, but all her SIP scores on the back of the score sheet were in the 90's. That seems very good, NO? And yet she got a 3.
Additionally, because neither she nor I have any idea what questions she missed, we have no idea what to study in the future. Maybe more details about the kinds of questions missed would be helpful to all: students, parents and teachers.

Anonymous said...

3 questions on the G&T process:

1. What methodology was used for citywide placements? Specifically, can/will the DOE confirm that it was a random, computerized lottery in which each qualifying child was equally weighted? Or was it something else?
2. What are the DOE's thoughts/reactions to the fact that 447 kids scored 99% on this year's OLSAT? That's much higher than I had expected (extrapolating from the fact that 972 kids scored 97 and above). Is the DOE going to revise next year's test to make a higher ceiling?
3. Will the DOE seriously consider an entry point for G&T at a later age, for example 2nd or 3rd grade, when more children from poor backgrounds without early childhood learning/enrichment opportunities will have had a chance to "catch up"? Testing 4 yr olds is ridiculous, especially when K is the only meaningful entry point.

Anonymous said...

My kid also got a 3 on ELA for the first time, SIP scores in high 90's. Now she technically can't apply for a math program in high school that requires 4's in both subjects. Has someone looked at why half as many kids as last year got 4 on ELA? What about high school--will they curve admission criteria based on lower numbers of kids getting 4's? Is there any leeway? After all it seems that parts of the ELA test are scored subjectively.

Anonymous said...

Wholeheartedly agree with Anonimous 4:75 re: testing for G&T in 2nd or 3rd grade. Our school used to re-test the children each year, thereby giving an opportunity to those who are new to school, or worked hard and excelled, to participate in G&T, as well as make sure that those who entered a year ago are still participating at a given level. The program as it stands now gives a once-in-elementary-school chance to enter G&T program, at the age of 4!

Anonymous said...

I think it's ludicrous to complain about a 4-year-old taking a reasoning test, especially because it wasn't a harrowing test, for G-d's sake. My child wasn't traumatized by it. Also, my kid was one of the older ones in her class. She was ready for school the year before. And the fact that 75% of the test was reasoning did eliminate, to my understanding, the edge that kids who attended pre-school at the age of 3. (My kid didn't.)

Why shouldn't children have earlier intervention for whatever reason? And, of course, the children in the g/t classes should be evaluated every year to see if they still meet the criteria, but not necessarily having to take the OLSAT test again. That's redundant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your efforts and the chance to ask a question! I'd like to know more about the "exemption" letter we received from Elizabeth A. Sciabarra, in the office of student enrollment, stating that as no local Kindergarten g&t programs are available, our District 10 child will not have to retest next year. It seems from your charts that there's enough children who scored high enough to fill the current g&t programs. Are they expanding in District 10? (perhaps 2 classes at PS 24?) And, when the score stands, does it across the slate of options: meaning, is it just for district schools or does the citywide count as well? This letter is so open-ended. Thank you.

helen said...

These are great questions -- specific, focused, and very clear. Many thanks to readers who've written in; you guys have really (really!) done your homework.

Anonymous said...

PS 24 is already overcrowded, they will have 6 K classes this fall, and in order to accommodate a 1st grade G&T next year, it will have to have 7 first grade classes, 6 of which will have to be over official capacity! There is no space in the school. And what IS that G&T curriculum? Nobody knows.

How about a G&T class in PS81, PS7, PS37? Why can't school decide for itself?

Anonymous said...

I live on 87th/2nd in uppereastside, in the former-ps151 zone. My daughter has been "lotteried" into PS6 next year! I'm sooooooo happy.

http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/7E291914-789B-4AC4-9E55-010E40A8C4BE/0/D2PS151ESapplicationinstructionsandapplication031108transnomarks.pdf

What will happen to us former-ps151 people in the next few years? My son is 1 yr old. Will he also be assigned to PS6 in the future?

I've also heard rumors that the uppereastside will be completely rezoned. Is that true? That will also greatly impact my co-op's value.

Anonymous said...

Will we see "citywide" schools in the other 4 boroughs of the city in the future?

Anonymous said...

Why do the G&T programs in some boroughs start in 1st grade? The real issue isn't the need for G&T programs starting in K, but the desire for kids to continue in one school for the elementary school years. It's a difficult transition for K students to move in 1st grade to attend the local G&T program.

Anonymous said...

What are plans to standardize tesing in NYC for middle school G/T so that we are all using the OLSAT, similar to Pre-K admissions? Also would have been helpful for those who are unfamilar with test to have sample question as those provided to Pre-k parents.

Can the DOE provide greater clarity for process around MS which accept citiwide applicants for their G/T application. This should include: Anderson, Bay Academy, Hunter, Mark Twain, NEST, Scholars etc. Would also be good for parents to have some sort of test sample and/or audition guidleines so students are not totally shocked by test formats which vary so greatly from ELA and Math test formats.

Anonymous said...

Another year, not too much progress anyone I know can see. With the increased, revised, oft changed procedure for testing, and the promise of increased seats ... the DOE /Office of G&T really left parents scratching their heads.

As a parent of a child in NEST+M, and as a daily commuter (along with about 1/3 of the school) from an outer borough, all I can say we really wish for: a concerted effort on the part of the DOE to develop more programs, citywide or not, in Brooklyn & Queens for starters.

Alternatively: we want the DOE to review it's terribly prejudicial decision of last January 08 to provide busing ONLY FOR MANHATTAN CHILDREN attending Manhattan Citywide Gifted Schools. How can that be fair? We again all wonder; for our youngest students to be delivered safely from parts of Brooklyn, Queens and S.I and Bronx with whatever resources AND TIME we can MUSTER>>> while the kids closest by get a free DOE approved bus ??? How can that be left this way?

If the DOE is truly committed to redesigning and revamping the G&T programming, how about starting with those two obviously inequable things:

1. create citywide g&T programs in areas beyond Manhattan

2. provide free buses for all young K-5 students from wherever they come from to the citywide programs.

Anonymous said...

July 3, 2008 6:48 AM - Your co-op value? Wow. Enough said!

Mom of 3 said...

I wish they would have given the parents a little more notice as to the K and 6 admissions. I didn't find out about my youngest son's acceptance to his school until the very last day of pre-k and that was only because I had been bothering the principal everyday. She knew his name by heart and told me in the courtyard that day. Didn't receive the letter in the mail until a week and a half later

Anonymous said...

I would like the DOE to address the CTT program. The DOE is "expanding" the CTT program in the elementary level and moving up to the middle and high schools. That is a good sign. However, there is a deperate need for DOE to have information sessions for all parents so they could understand that CTT is not a dumping ground, at least it is not supposed to be. Educators should not be allowed to dump behavioral children into the CTT program thus giving it a bad reputation. The Chancellor always talk about accountability. How about accountability to the special education children? Not just by using the fair student funding as a mechanism but also have some sort of QC review to make sure the funds are used properly.

The middle school placement for special education students this year is another nightmare. Chancellor, please don't leave the special education students behind by placing them last!

KarenR said...

I would like to know what the DoE plans to do for all the children with autism as it pertains to High School placements. The DoE has increased the number of elementary students each year; this includes a brand new off sight campus for elementary students this coming September. Where are all of these (nearly 400) students going to go for High School as our program only has space for approximately 150?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know about the changes in the zero tolereance policies regarding to typical adolescent misconduct, no serious actions of a 13 years old boy, ex. making noises, talking back, etc. My son was was punished for his misbehavior at the beginning of the past school year with detentions, in school suspensions and extra assigments. In the middle of the school year his behavior and grades improved but instead of being encoraged to keep up with the good job, he was always reminded about his past. Neither the dean nor the principal forget what he did wrong in the past, none of them supported his improvements. Because of his past behavior my son was deprived of attending to his 8th grade prom, senior trips, and the performance with the band in the graduation ceremony. I asked the principal and she said she had a very strict discipline policies, but counseling services were not offered to my son, the discipline policies are not in writing, only the agenda shows general and vague information about them and little information about consequences for misbehavior. The discipline Code edited by DOE was never sent home. To make the situation worst the last three weeks of school, the dean started to make remarks about my son past misbehavior in front of his classmates, i called him for an appointment and he never called me back. I wrote an email asking him to stop embarrassing my son and he didn't until i wrote an email to him with copy to the principal, the NYC DOE and a preventing child abuse organization and then his harassment to my son stopped. So, what is the idea of using zero tolerance policies to punish the children misbehavior if neither counseling, engagement nor support is offered? Is the behavior what is really intended to be corrected or is get rid of the misbehaved students from the school system and make them to be losers, to become angry and unhappy, with low selsteem and end on the streets or in jails? I understand that zero tolerance policies were intended to keep safe the schools and a good learning environment, i agree with that, but not offering opportunities to improve or support to those who misbehaved and constantly punishing or reminding them for what they did wrong in the past is a non-sense solution, especially if the aim is to teach (discipline) the children/adolescent to be better individulas and good citizens.

BelkisMB said...

Shouldn't be mandatory that every school keep in writting its discipline policies, send a copy of them home and review them, step by step, with all the students: what is expected, what is not tolerated and consequences of breaking the rules. And also offer counseling services for all children, involvement in community proyects or services, and civic lessons?

Anonymous said...

Why is the DoE and the CSE forcing children with special needs to go to high schools that do not fit they criteria. More needs to be done for these kids. In the future parents with children who have special needs should be given the same amount of time regular kids have to look into high schools, instead of being given just last minute notice that they have to be choose a high school for their kids.