Students at Closing Schools
January 27th, 2011
As the battle over the latest round of proposed school closings heats up, the Independent Budget Office has released a report that basically bolsters the contention by many critics of the closures that schools slated for shutting have a disproportionate share of the school systems’ neediest students.
For example the report found that special education students accounted for 18 percent of enrollment at the 14 high schools on this year’s closing list high schools, compared to 12 percent at all city high schools. They also had more than twice as many students entering overage — 9 percent of the student body as opposed to 4 percent for city high schools overall — and more coming in with low eighth grade test scores.
More of the students in the closing schools live in temporary housing — in other words, are homeless or doubling up with other family. At four schools on the closing list, more than 10 percent of all students fall into this group, compared to 4 percent for city students overall.
The figures were less striking for elementary schools, perhaps reflecting the fact that most students attend an elementary school in their neighborhood while students apply to high schools. For example, there were fewer English language learners among the students in the closing elementary schools than in the city overall.
The racial composition of closing schools differed. The student bodies at closing elementary and high school schools, on average, were 52 percent black and only 3 percent white, compared to 31 percent and 14 percent respectively for all city schools. (The percent of Latino student was roughly equivalent at closing schools and other schools).
In its cautious language the report endorses the contention of many — born out by press reports — that as the city closes many schools, the neediest students form those school tend to go to certain schools, particularly the remaining large, comprehensive high schools, putting burdens on them that can then lead to their closure. (Critics of the Department of Education say this has been the case at both Norman Thomas and Christopher Columbus High Schools, both of which themselves are now on the closing list) ” Looking at the five-year period of 2005-2006 through 2009-2010, there is evidence that the level of need of
students in closing high schools has been increasing at a faster rate than the citywide average,’ the report says.
In another blow to the city’s controversial school report card system, the report found that, despite low student performance, most of the schools. school received a grade of “proficient” in 2008-2009.
The report, though, does refute another argument by opponents of some of the schools closings: that the schools do not get the resources going to other schools. On average, the closing schools had a slightly lower student to teacher ratio and more teachers with five or more years of service and graduate degrees.By Gail Robinson on January 27, 2011, 1:36 pm
In category: Education | 1 Comment »