Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Facts on the Ground

Jackie Bennett:

How does the DOE decide which high schools to close? For the third straight year, and all claims to a nuanced review of quality aside, the schools the DOE chooses to shut are simply those that dare to teach the students with the city’s highest needs. There’s nothing terribly nuanced about it at all. (For previous years, see here and here).

Which Schools Close? Redux, chart 1

It starts with this chart (and then gets worse).

Even though DOE claims that the Progress Report grades are demographically neutral, DOE did not fail a single high school with lowest concentrations of high-need students (that top 1/3 in dark green).1 And, though the D’s and F’s are spread across the bottom 2/3 (in blue and red), it was overwhelmingly the D’s and F’s with the highest needs that made the “pre-engagement” list — the short list from which DOE would ultimately choose the final closures. 65% of the highest-need D’s and F’s were put on the short list, but only 15% of the schools in the middle where the students on average had fewer challenges to overcome.

And it gets worse.

Because to be on the short list only means that you might or might not close. Once they create the short list, the DOE claims it “reviews the school data, consults with the superintendents and other experienced educators who have worked closely with the school, and gathers community feedback.”

Which Schools Close? Redux, chart 2

That’s what they say, and it is certainly true that they make a good show of it, running from school to school and having all sorts of sympathetic meetings. But in the end? Take a look at which ones land on the final list.

In the end, this is how it works. The schools that serve the neediest populations are closed. I still don't really understand if that's the goal, a side-effect, or if reformers even notice. But it is what is horrifying about the whole process.

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