Standards and Accountability: As the top-scoring state in this section this year, New York has all the elements critical to a strong accountability system. New York has clear and specific standards in English, mathematics, science, and social studies/history at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
It also has tests aligned with those standards in each of the subjects in every grade span.
The state’s assessments rely on a range of test items to gauge student performance. New York uses its test data to hold schools accountable. The state publishes test data on school report cards. It rates schools, in part, on the basis of their achievement scores. It also provides help to schools rated as low-performing and imposes sanctions on consistently low-performing or failing schools. Such sanctions include school closure and reconstitution, meaning an overhaul of staffing and programs. New York also provides monetary rewards to high-performing or improving schools.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: New York ranks among the top 15 states again this year for its efforts to improve teacher quality. But the state’s grade has dropped a little since last year because New York has eliminated its performance assessment, which required that teachers submit videotaped lessons to earn permanent certification. All prospective teachers must continue to pass basic-skills and subject-area licensure exams before they enter the classroom. The state also requires aspiring teachers to complete at least 100 hours of field experience before student teaching, as well as at least 40 days of student teaching.
The state has stopped issuing temporary teaching certificates. But this school year, it will issue a limited number of “modified” temporary licenses in geographic and academic areas where teacher shortages are documented. New York will not allow teachers with those licenses to work in schools identified as low-performing, or in those that receive federal Title I money for disadvantaged students. The state requires first-year teachers to receive mentoring before they earn their professional licenses, but it does not pay for that help. The lack of state funding for this program lowers New York’s grade.
New York identifies low-performing teacher-preparation institutions based, in part, on the passing rates of their graduates on teacher-licensing tests. If fewer than 80 percent of an institution’s students pass, the institution enters corrective-action status. While New York does not produce report cards for its teacher-preparation institutions, the state publishes performance reports for its elementary and secondary schools that include information on the certification status of teachers.
School Climate: According to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress background survey, New York scores at the middle or back of the pack compared with other states on indicators of student engagement, school safety, and parent involvement.
Public school choice is facilitated by a limited open-enrollment policy, and by a moderately strong charter school law, as rated by the Center for Education Reform.
The percentage of students attending small schools, though, especially at the elementary and middle school levels, is lower than in most other states. Also pulling down the state’s grade for school climate is a higher-than-average elementary-class size of 22.3 students. New York has implemented a class-size-reduction program for the early grades, and the state includes information about class size on its school report cards.
Equity: New York does fairly well in its grade for resource equity, ranking in the top 10 states for this section. The main reason for the high grade is the state’s McLoone Index, which measures what it would cost to bring student spending in districts below the median level for per-pupil aid to that median. The state ranks 34th on the wealth-neutrality score, indicating that, on average, wealthy districts in the state have more state and local revenue available for education than property-poor districts do. New York has a coefficient of variation of 12.4 percent, which indicates moderate disparities in spending across its districts, relative to those in other states.
Spending: New York does very well in spending, ranking high among the 50 states and the District of Columbia on most indicators.
After increasing its spending 4.7 percent over the previous year, New York spent $10,002 per pupil in the 2001-02 school year. The state ranks first with the District of Columbia and Wyoming on the spending index, at 100 percent. A perfect score on the index means that all students in New York attend school in districts spending at least the national average per pupil on education. New York is a little above average in its percentage of total taxable resources spent on education, at 4 percent. The national average is 3.8 percent.