Education News Roundup Issue #111

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Top Stories

Shrink the Schools
How to shrink class sizes in NYC? A working group shares its recommendations
Chalkbeat, 9/13/2023

Capping enrollment at high-demand schools. Merging schools located in the same buildings. Moving some 3-K and prekindergarten programs out of K-12 schools. Paying extra to bring more teachers to hard-to-staff schools.

Those are some of the steps New York City may have to consider in the coming years to comply with a new state law requiring schools to shrink class sizes for hundreds of thousands of students, according to preliminary recommendations from an Education Department working group.

HS Admissions Leaves Out Test Scores
NYC selective high schools will not consider test scores in admissions, angering some parents
NY Daily News, 9/28/2023

New York City’s selective high schools will not consider state test scores in admissions, over the objections of parents who pushed for what was originally an emergency measure that was to end after the pandemic, education officials announced Thursday.

While some parents argue the scores offer an objective measure, other families and advocates praised the move as providing better access to the system’s most popular programs for kids who historically struggle with standardized exams or parents without the time to figure out what application materials each school requires. Applications for high school open Tuesday.

In the Dark
Do NYC parents know how much — or how little — their students are actually learning in school? 
EpiCenterNYC, 9/19/2023

The 2023-2024 academic year had already begun when New York City finally released outcomes from state English Language Arts (ELA) and Math exams administered to third through eighth graders in the spring of 2023. 

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said the results were unexpected. “Last year was (my son’s) best year in school academically. He was above reading level and excelled in math. His report card was predominantly 4s. We received our state test scores yesterday and he received a 2 in ELA and 3 in math. I am absolutely shocked. I’m honestly lost for words.”

…What’s worse, 80% of parents say they are confident they understand how their child is achieving academically, and more than three-quarters say they feel their kids are prepared to enter and succeed at college and in the workplace. They don’t seem to know there’s a problem.

Advocacy Corner

Register for the Class Size Working Group, Community Engagement Session on Monday October 2.
Class Size Working Group, 9/25/2023

Press Release: PLACE NYC Calls For Exempting Academically Successful Schools From Unfunded NY State “Class Size” Law
PLACE NYC, 9/23/2023

PLACE NYC Supports Coalition for TJ High School in Amicus Brief to SCOTUS
PLACE NYC plus 8 other organizations, 9/22/2023

Other Headlines

Class Size Working Group Recommendations
Class Size Working Group, 9/25/2023

5 Queens Schools Awarded 2023 National Blue Ribbon Honor, 9/25/2023

The Fight Over Algebra
Math wars: S.F. supervisor wants voters to lean on school district about timing of algebra
SF Chronicle. 9/25/2023

Should San Francisco schools offer Algebra I in the eighth grade?
The answer to that question has been the subject of intense debate in the city since the school board voted 10 years ago to move the math class out of middle schools and into ninth grade for all students in an effort to delay separating kids into different academic levels and boost enrollment in higher levels of math among underrepresented students.

There have been petitions, public comment, protests and a lawsuit to urge the district to reverse the decision and make Algebra I an option before high school.

So far, district officials have declined to do so.

So you think your child might have dyslexia
Gothamist, 9/25/2023

New City Council Bill to Study Feasibility of Reimbursing Parents for Private Education
BK Reader, 9/25/2023

Cutting the Knot
How the Supremes can head off back-door racial favoritism by US colleges
NY Post, op-ed by Wai Wah Chin, 9/24/2023

Legend had it that whoever untied the impossibly convoluted Gordian Knot would rule the world.

Facing the intractable challenge, young Alexander the Great took out his sword, cut the Knot and went on to conquer the largest empire to date, spanning Greece, Egypt and India.

We have a Gordian Knot today — in the form of the murky college-admissions environment that followed the Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. 

NYC students going to school high ‘every day’ as drug incidents rise: teachers
NY Post, 9/24/2023

教育團體籲 紐約「小班案」排除資優班
World Journal, 9/23/2023

How Ed Tech Tools Track Kids Online — And Why Parents Should Care
The 74 Million, 9/22/2023

Science of Math?
As Test Scores Crater, Debate Over Whether There’s a ‘Science’ To Math Recovery
The 74 Million, 9/21/2023

As students continue to struggle with learning loss in mathematics, some educators are pushing for a return to a more structured teaching strategy that’s being called the “science of math.” 

Posited by advocates as a companion to the better-known “science of reading,” a juggernaut that has recently brought enormous change in how that subject is taught nationwide, the “science of math” calls for a more orderly, explicit approach to classroom instruction.

Sarah Powell, associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the movement’s most vocal proponents, said the circuitous path to learning popularized in recent years might “sound sexy” but doesn’t help kids master the skills they need to succeed — at least not in math. 

Repairing the damage Columbia’s Teachers College did to American kids will take years
NY Post, 9/21/2023

Following layoffs, Boston University announces ‘inquiry’ into Ibram Kendi’s Antiracist Center
Boston Globe, 9/20/2023

West Point accused of discriminating against white applicants in lawsuit: ‘No justification’
NY Post, 9/19/2023

A new federal lawsuit accuses the US Military Academy at West Point of improperly considering the race and ethnicity of applicants when making admissions decisions.

The lawsuit was filed in New York’s Southern District on Tuesday by Students for Fair Admissions — the same group that successfully challenged affirmative action in higher education admissions in a landmark Supreme Court case that struck down the practice in June.

In the suit, Students for Fair Admissions claims West Point has benchmarks in place for how many Black, Hispanic and Asian cadets the institution should admit each class.

NYC Council eyes hiring diversity monitor to take on school segregation
Gothamist, 9/19/2023

Desperate NYC parents spending millions, lying, moving across the country to get kids into Ivy League
NY Post, 9/19/2023

Changing the Formula
US News releases latest college rankings after formula change
The Hill, 9/18/2023

U.S. News & World Report released its 2024 best college rankings list after making changes to how it would evaluate schools following criticism.

Changes to the ranking formula included focusing on social mobility and outcomes for graduating students, such as how many students on Pell Grants graduate from a particular school. U.S. News also kept some of the more controversial aspects of its formula, such as having universities give peer evaluations of one another. 

Proposed Section 504 rule still being drafted
K-12 Dive, 9/18/2023

11 NY Colleges Among Top 100 In Nation: US News Rankings
Patch, 9/18/2023

Easy Peasy Math
It’s easier and easier to get an A in math
Hechinger Report, 9/18/2023

Amid the growing debate over how best to teach math, there is another ballooning problem: grades. They’re becoming increasingly untethered to how much students know. That not only makes it harder to gauge how well students are learning math and catching up from pandemic learning losses, but it’s also making math grades a less reliable indicator of who should be admitted to colleges or take advanced courses.

The latest warning sign comes from college admissions test maker ACT, which compared students’ ACT test scores with their self-reported high school grades between 2010 and 2022. Grade inflation struck all high school subjects, ACT found, but it was highest for math, followed by science, English, and social studies.

‘We’ve lost our advantage on education’: Democrats grasp for wins on public schools
Politico, 9/17/2023

Why Won’t Elite Colleges Deploy the One Race-Neutral Way to Achieve Diversity?
Politico, 9/15/2023

Moms rally against sex biz, for safety
Queens Chronicle, 9/14/2023

The Hard Road Back
School Closures and Student Health
Wall Street Journal Editorial, 9/14/2023

By now a mountain of evidence shows that Covid school closures were a serious error that caused K-12 learning loss, but according to a report published Wednesday, that’s only the beginning. “Three years after the start of the pandemic,” it says, “Covid-19 is continuing to derail learning, but in more insidious and hidden ways.”

…Even students who have succeeded academically and gone to college weren’t unaffected. “The enforced isolation of the pandemic has delayed developmental milestones for many of our traditional-aged students, affecting their social development, emotional health, and cognitive readiness,” writes Joanne Vogel, vice president of student services at Arizona State University. “Incoming students are displaying behavior we might expect of younger adolescents.”

Eric Adams vowed all NYC students would get dyslexia screening. So far, 1,500 have.
Chalkbeat, 9/14/2023

NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks talks migrant students, school safety, and importance of reading
ABC 7 NY, 9/13/2023

NYC set to offer free swimming lessons to 2nd graders
Gothamist, 9/13/2023

Witholding Scores
Families have their students’ state test scores. But NYC will have to wait for overall numbers.
Chalkbeat, 9/13/2023

The individual scores, released Wednesday as the first full week of school is underway, come later than usual.  A change to the state’s learning standards, which required an overhaul of the exams and scoring, delayed the results. 

Since it was the first time the new standards were used, state education officials had to develop new “cut scores,” or metrics used to measure student proficiency. 

State officials have yet to release overall data for kids across the city or state. But schools Chancellor David Banks said the city’s test scores were up in both reading and math during an appearance on ABC7.

Closed Book
Slate, 9/11/2023

World’s Top School Systems Try to Ease Pressure on Students
Wall Street Journal, 9/10/2023

Pols seek to study subsidizing private school tuition — to keep families from fleeing NYC
NY Post, 9/9/2023

Boy Crazy
‘There Was Definitely a Thumb on the Scale to Get Boys’
NY Times, 9/8/2023

In the spring of 2021, about 2,000 students on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans received an email they were expecting. They had filled out an elaborate survey provided by Marriage Pact, a matchmaking service popular on many campuses, and the day had come for each of them to be given the name of a fellow student who might be a long-term romantic partner. When the results came in, however, about 900 straight women who participated were surprised by what the email offered: a friend match instead of a love interest. The survey was a lark, something most Tulane students saw as an icebreaker more than an important service. But the results pointed to a phenomenon at the school — and at many other schools — that has only grown more pronounced since then, one that affects much more than just students’ social lives: Women now outnumber men on campus, by a wide margin.

Teachers union chief calls private schools ‘fascist’ but sends her son to one
NY Post Editoral, 9/8/2023

Affirmative Action Did Not Make My Prestigious High School Inclusive
Townhall, op-ed by Daniel Idfresne, 9/8/2023

What’s Next for AP? 4 Takeaways From a College Board Official
EdWeek, 9/5/2023