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StudentsFirstNY Poll: NYC Voters Want Teachers Judged On Student Test Scores

The New York Daily News blog reports on StudentsFirstNY's recent poll that found that 80% of NYC voters support a new teacher evaluation system based on both classroom observations and test scores.

The results of the poll come in the final weeks of negotiations between the City's teachers' union and Department of Education. The article notes:

If the city and teachers union do not reach a deal to overhaul teacher evaluations by a January deadline set by Gov. Cuomo, the city could lose up to $300 million in state funding for the public schools.

Read the full article

View the poll results

Sign the petition urging city officials and teachers union leaders to come to an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system.


We Must Do More to Reform Education for Our Students

New York has some of the highest performing schools in the country, but there is still much more to be done. According to a recent SchoolBook article, students are still struggling despite great improvements made in the last few years:

“…Right now one out of every four students in New York is not graduating from high school. And perhaps even more disturbing, nearly seven out of every 10 New York students who enter the 9th grade do not finish school ready for college or a decent paying job. Despite the fact that New York has some of the highest performing schools in the country, tens of thousands of our state’s high school graduates end up in remedial courses, paying college prices to learn skills they should have developed in high school.”

New York is one of 46 states adopting Common Core standards meant to prepare students for college and a career. The Common Core standards are based upon the belief that a rigorous academic program in a child’s early years will lead to extraordinary results later in life.

The Common Core is also based on the idea that our students cannot wait:

“…as educators we all share the conviction that rigorous and engaging instruction can lead to extraordinary results – even for students in the most difficult of circumstances. Implementing the Common Core and the evaluation system are two critical steps toward realizing that vision in New York. We must seize this moment to help all of our students to achieve and succeed.”

The Common Core is supported by the National Governor’s Association, the AFT, the NEA, the National PTA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many more. To learn more, visit

Read the full article.


Mayoral contenders come up empty on critical issue of education

The New York Daily News says New York City's mayoral candidates “owe voters far more than they have offered so far” regarding their education policies. The editorial highlights the importance of proposing concrete plans given the challenges ahead for the next mayor, including:

"...decisions on contentious issues like boosting teacher quality, holding teachers accountable for students’ performance, school choice, standardized testing and the adoption of more rigorous coursework.

For the next mayor to continue the progress made over the past decade, including 10 years of gains in graduation rates -- an increase of 19 points since 2005, bringing the rate to 65% last year -- they'll have to offer credible plans, not just political "cheap shots."

Read the full article.


Parents rally at City Hall, but their protest is directed elsewhere

Gotham Schools reports on the StudentsFirstNY parent and student rally for teacher quality this past weekend, saying:

"More than 100 parents and organizers from StudentsFirstNY filled the steps of City Hall on Saturday to demand that the teachers union cooperate with the city on an evaluation deal before a deadline that could cost the city $300 million in state aid."

The article continues, highlighting the urgency for local leaders to reach an agreement, noting:

"While hundreds of districts across New York have submitted locally negotiated deals to the State Education Department for approval in recent months, the city and the union still have not, although union leaders and city officials have said they are “optimistic” about reaching an agreement. The city has until Jan. 17 to have an evaluation system approved, or else it risks forgoing a 4 percent increase in state funding — about $300 million this year."

Read the full article

Sign the petition urging local leaders to agree on a new evaluation system for NYC teachers


Newark Schools Will Begin Rewarding Top-Performing Teachers

Members of the Newark Teachers Union have ratified a contract that now rewards teachers for better performance in the classroom. This new rating scale was built with the intent of leaving behind standard pay scales which reward teachers regardless of merit.

According to the New York Daily News, a local middle school teacher spoke in favor of the new contract:

“I believe that unions have to put children right at the top and that seniority and tenure no longer can be the main basis of how we look at the teaching profession."

The contract also reflects the need for more flexibility and management by school principals in order to help boost student achievement even further.

Read the full article.


The Lesser-Known Achievement Gap

Most people are familiar with the academic achievement gaps among students of different races and socioeconomic status. However, another lesser-known kind of achievement gap exists: the gap between performance of top schools in the U.S. and top schools around the world.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is lagging behind other countries, ranking somewhere in the middle:

“Of the 70 countries tested by the widely used Program for International Student Assessment, the United States falls in the middle of the pack. This is the case even for relatively well-off American students: Of American 15-year-olds with at least one college-educated parent, only 42% are proficient in math, according to a Harvard University study of the PISA results.”

Read the full article. [Subscription required.]


Better Teacher Evaluations Will Mean Improved Education for Students

StudentsFirstNY has stepped in to rally parents around the issue of improving teacher evaluations. Last month, StudentsFirstNY officials met with public school parents to talk about the issues surrounding teacher evaluations.

According to GothamSchools, the message to parents was clear:

"The way to improve their students' education begins with a better teacher evaluation system."

In addition to meeting and talking with groups of public school parents, StudentsFirstNY is building a team of organizers to spread the word within communities. The challenge for organizers will be to make the issue of teacher evaluations resonate with parents. Darlene Boston, an organizer with StudentFirstNY's Families Taking Action explained the importance.

"The stakes are high too, Boston said. If an agreement is not reached by Jan. 17, she explained, the city stands to lose nearly $300 million in state aid, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to withhold from districts that did not strike deals on evaluations."

Read the full article.

Sign the petition urging school district and union leaders to support a new evaluation system.


Charter School Attendance on the Rise

The number of students who attend charter schools across the country has increased by almost 13 percent in the last two years. According to The New York Times, just over 2 million students are now enrolled in charter schools.

The New York Times looked at the results of a report recently released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools:

[The report] showed that in some cities, charter schools enroll a significant proportion of public school students. In 110 school districts, at least 10 percent of students now attend public charter schools. In New York City, just over 48,000 public school students attended charter schools in 2011-12, up 24 percent from the previous year.

Read the full article.


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Children left behind

A New York Daily News editorial says that scaling back on school choice and rolling back many other reforms in response to data on college-readiness would be the "worst thing the city could do."

The editorial continues, noting the options now available to New Yorkers as a result of reforms over the past decade, noting:

"Families have gained countless education options — like access to hundreds of new small, energetic schools. A study this year showed college-readiness rates at these schools is substantially higher than at the types of schools they replace.

Meantime, moms and dads have also been able to send their kids to hundreds of new charter schools, which admit the most poverty-stricken students by random lottery and post some of the strongest results in the city."

Read the full editorial.


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