[Paleopsych] NYT: Fewer New York Schools Are Cited for Poor Performance

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Wed Jan 5 18:24:37 UTC 2005

Fewer New York Schools Are Cited for Poor Performance
New York Times, 5.1.5

[So poor performing schools do get closed! Though not many.]

Fewer New York City schools are in danger of being shut
down by the state for poor performance this year than in
previous years, state and city education officials
announced yesterday.

The number of city schools on the state list, known as
schools under registration review, fell to 35 from 46 last
year and from an all-time high of 104 six years ago. The
state started compiling the list in 1989. Statewide, there
are 52 schools on the list.

Sixteen city schools were taken off the list after showing
significant improvement on last year's standardized test
scores, while seven city schools were added.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the newly truncated list
proved that the changes he has imposed in the past two
years are working. They include giving schools literacy and
math coaches and parent coordinators and instituting a
uniform curriculum in elementary schools.

"Today's announcement is another strong indication that
we're turning the corner," Mr. Bloomberg said. "We all know
that there is a lot of work still to be done to create the
public school system that our children deserve, and we know
success won't happen overnight. Expecting that is folly."

But others were more circumspect, noting that even fewer
schools - six - were added to the list two years ago,
before the mayor's changes were imposed. Between 16 and 19
schools have been removed from the list for each of the
last eight years.

"I would say, O.K., it's a starting point, but golly you're
a long way from the finish line," said Merryl H. Tisch, a
member of the state Board of Regents from New York City.
"If you were a parent of a kid in one of those SURR
schools, how would you feel?"

Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of
Teachers, noted that many of the schools that were removed
from the list this year and last had been part of the
Chancellor's District, a collection of troubled schools
that, under the two previous chancellors, received special
attention like smaller classes and extra teacher training.
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein dismantled the special

In recent years, the list of schools under registration
review has often been confused with another list of failing
schools: the Schools in Need of Improvement. That list,
which is required under the federal No Child Left Behind
law, includes many more schools (328 in New York City this
year) because it uses a higher threshold for success and
judges schools based on both their overall performance and
the performance of various sub-groups, like special
education students.

One of the city schools identified as failing yesterday was
Far Rockaway High School in Queens, which on Monday was the
scene of a triumphant news conference at which the mayor
and the chancellor proclaimed victory in their efforts to
crack down on disorder there and at other dangerous city

Chancellor Klein said the apparent contradiction could be
easily explained.

"One of the reasons it's on the SURR list is because they
lost control of the school," he said. "Instead of focusing
on teaching and learning, they were focusing on disruptive

Mr. Klein said that in the next few weeks, city education
officials would decide whether to close any schools based
on the new figures. Since the 1997-1998 school year, 38
city schools under registration review have been or are
being closed.

Elsewhere in the state, four schools were added to the
list: Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, Stanton Academy and
Public School 37 in Buffalo, and Hempstead High School on
Long Island.

Other city schools added to the list were the High School
of Graphic Communication Arts in Manhattan; and, in the
Bronx, P.S. 156, Junior High School 151, P.S. 230, P.S. 396
and the Monroe Academy for Visual Arts and Design.

Edna Straus, the principal of Middle School 88 in Brooklyn,
where the mayor held a news conference yesterday, said she
got her school off the list by "constantly looking at data"
on student performance and recruiting certified math
teachers through the Teaching Fellows program, which
enables people in other professions to become teachers. She
said she was frustrated to still be labeled a School in
Need of Improvement but thrilled to be removed from the
most dire of failing schools lists.

"When parents have an image of a SURR school, they have an
image of a school that's in chaos," she said. "That doesn't
exist here."


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