Assessment

New York Considers System For Rating Schools

By Bess Keller — February 23, 2000 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Following the lead of Texas and California, New York education officials are proposing to rate all schools on how well their students do in passing state tests.

Currently, New York state requires schools to distribute report cards that provide test results. But the proposed accountability scheme would go further by setting more precise state standards, which would then be used to rank schools at one of three levels starting next year.

As it does now, the state would identify low-performing schools, but designate them by the new phrase “furthest from standards.” In addition, schools would be rated as “below standards” or “meeting standards.” A fourth level, “exceeding standards” would be added in two years.

“It gives a more precise picture of school performance,” said Roseanne DeFabio, the assistant state commissioner for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. “It will leave no question in anybody’s mind what the state thinks is a good school and what is not good enough.”

Other Big States Rate

If New York does adopt school ratings tied to more precise performance targets, it will join the ranks of the nation’s three other most populous states—California, Texas, and Florida. The move also comes as more states consider beefing up their accountability systems.

“It reflects a broader national trend of going beyond putting test scores out there for parents to interpret as best they can,’' said Matthew Gandal, the director of the Washington office of Achieve Inc., a resource center on standards and accountability that was established by governors and business leaders. “States are exerting leadership and saying they’re going to take responsibility for determining how good is ‘good enough,’ reporting it, and doing something about it.”

Richard P. Mills

Under the New York proposal, schools with the “below standards” rating would be required to come up with an improvement plan approved by Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills, much as the lowest-performing schools must do now. State education officials envision that schools with the “exceeding standards” label would be freed from some state regulations.

Criteria for the high school rankings would evolve as the state phases in its new, more challenging exit exams, starting with results on state English and mathematics exams and eventually focusing on graduation rates. Rankings for elementary and middle schools would likely hinge on student performance on English and mathematics tests in 4th and 8th grades.

Officials Changed Course

State officials initially floated a five-level rating plan, but settled on three levels for now. Florida recently adopted a five-level rating system for its schools, using the traditional report card letters of A, B, C, D, and F. The plan raised a ruckus among educators.

New York officials also steered clear of some of the controversial rewards and sanctions that other states have tied to their ratings. Failing schools in Florida, for instance, can see their students become eligible for state vouchers that allow them to leave for other public or private schools. In North Carolina, staff members at high-performing schools get cash bonuses. Schools there at the bottom of the heap are subject to reconstitution—a thorough staff shake-up—by the state.

New York has also decided against dividing students into racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic subgroups, and then expecting schools to ensure that members of those subgroups achieve the same test results as the student body as a whole. In Texas, that approach has been credited with helping to narrow achievement gaps between subgroups. New York officials said that while they are interested in focusing on subgroup performance, they do not yet have adequate technical means to do it.

The New York plan does call for recognizing “rapidly improving” schools that may not have reached the state targets but have made substantial progress toward them.

The state school board is expected to vote on the plan in May or June. In the meantime, many New York educators, and some state lawmakers, are responding warily, questioning whether the plan will accomplish more than the report cards have already.

Antonia Cortese, the first vice president of New York State United Teachers, said the American Federation of Teachers affiliate was concerned about the resources that would be available to schools that fell short of the standards. “After you have sliced and diced,” she said, “have you done anything to improve student achievement?”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2000 edition of Education Week as New York Considers System For Rating Schools

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Opinion What the Digital SAT Will Mean for Students and Educators
The college-admissions test will be fully digital by 2024. Priscilla Rodriguez from the College Board discusses the change.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Assessment Opinion Searching for Common Ground: What Makes a Good Test?
Rick Hess and USC Dean Pedro Noguera discuss standardized testing—what it’s for, where it’s gone wrong, and how to improve it.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2022
This Spotlight will help you understand how to use assessment data to guide student learning and examine the debate over standardized tests.
Assessment State Test Results Are In. Are They Useless?
While states, districts, and schools pore over data from spring 2021 tests, experts urge caution over how to interpret and use the results.
9 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2016 file photo, a sign is seen at the entrance to a hall for a college test preparation class in Bethesda, Md. The $380 million test coaching industry is facing competition from free or low-cost alternatives in what their founders hope will make the process of applying to college more equitable. Such innovations are also raising questions about the relevance and the fairness of relying on standardized tests in admissions process.
A sign is posted at the entrance to a hall for a test-preparation class. Assessment experts say educators should use data from spring 2021 tests with caution.
Alex Brandon/AP