Better Schools – or Better Students?
October 16th, 2007
The debate over the effectiveness of new small high schools continues, prompted this time by a television advertisement. Sponsored by the Fund for New York City Public Schools, it trumpets the improvements at what once was Evander Childs High School in the Bronx. Childs, a notoriously troubled school, was broken into six small schools, which by almost any measure are faring better than the large school they replaced. Or, as the advertisement puts its, “The building may be the same, but the school is very different.”
An analysis by Eduwonkette, though, argues that what’s really different are the students. Looking at material on incoming students compiled by the Department of Education, the blog compared the incoming Evander Childs ninth graders in 2004-05 with the ninth graders at the new small schools in the building. “On every dimension, the Evander incoming 9th graders are lagging behind academically — they are more likely to be in special education or to be classified as English language learners, they are much more likely to be overage for their grade (i.e. they had been retained before), their attendance rates in junior high school were much lower, and they were much less likely to be proficient in reading and math,” Eduwonkette writes.
A similar analysis, comparing large schools and small ones that replaced them, was conducted last spring by Edwize, the teachers union blog. “In every specific comparison between a new small school and a large comprehensive school, the small school took in higher percentages of students meeting standards and ready to do high school work, and lower percentages of students at risk for dropping out,” it writes.
Reviewing the situation, NYC Public School Parents writes, “If you take higher achieving students, and give them smaller classes, it should be no surprise to anyone that they will do far better and graduate in larger numbers than the lower-achieving students left behind in classes of 30 or more, attending overcrowded schools on double and triple shifts.”
The real issue, as Public School Parents notes, is what to do with the type of student who attended the old Evander Childs. Where are those students going and what, if anything, is the New York City Department of Education doing to meet their needs?By Gail Robinson on October 16, 2007, 2:28 pm
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