Sunday, April 29, 2012

Discussing Transformation with Victor Capellan

Me, over at Mass Insight's blog:

Mr. Capellan,

I am sure that good and great things are happening at Central Falls High School today, just as I know good and great things happened there prior to the transformation.  What concerns me is that the transformation itself is a primarily political act.

Take, for example, your brief analysis of the reason for an increase in the graduation rate of last year's graduating class.  I would hope that the prime mover of increased graduation was increased student achievement, and in fact, there is rather clear evidence for that at Central Falls High School.  If one considers a score of at least "Partially Proficient" on the 11th grade NECAP's as representing graduation-readiness -- as the Regents propose to do -- then in the 2009-10 cohort of juniors, in reading 85%, and in writing 90% qualified.

By comparison, in the 2007-8 junior class cohort only 72% were ready in reading and 79% in writing.  In the 2011-12 junior cohort, it is down to 69% for reading and 75% for writing.

In short, the data demonstrates that last year's senior class was significantly better prepared -- prior to the transformation -- than those that preceded or will follow it.  One would hope they would have a higher graduation rate!  Of course, pointing out gains which preceded the transformation would undermine its premise, so they won't be mentioned.

I would also note that your personal resume should give informed observers reason to view rising graduation numbers with some skepticism.  You worked in the New York Department of Education through a period where credit recovery and graduation requirements were very loosely regulated.  A long trail of anecdotes suggesting inflated graduation numbers throughout the district has recently been confirmed by an internal NYC DOE audit.

Anyone who has worked in a high school knows that graduation rates are susceptible to manipulation, particularly in a charged political atmosphere, particularly when teachers' jobs are under threat.  Close scrutiny is well justified.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Just awesome. Thank you.