Good in depth story by Yoav. “department officials refused to give The Post access to their internal predictions of graduation rates for the 14 schools on the closure listBy YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter
Last Updated: 5:13 AM, February 1, 2011
Posted: 2:40 AM, February 1, 2011
The Department of Education has for years been able to predict which schools will fail based on a number of factors, but many disadvantaged schools have been blamed for their crummy performance and marked for closure anyway, according to a department analysis obtained by The Post.
The report shows that education officials created a dividing line between schools so that those whose "predicted" graduation rates were less than 50 percent -- based largely on their size and concentration of low-achieving students -- were likely to be closed rather than receive support.
Other recent reports that have questioned the department's role in supporting schools marked for closure sparked hundreds of protesters to rally outside its headquarters in lower Manhattan yesterday.
Two dozen -- including Brooklyn City Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Charles Barron -- were arrested for civil disobedience after they formed a human chain to block traffic.
"It's very troubling that there are a lot of internal studies that show that the DOE knew what the impact was of steering large numbers of more challenging-to-educate students into specific high schools and [that] now we're looking to close those," said Patrick Sullivan, a Manhattan representative to the Panel for Educational Policy.
The panel is scheduled to vote tonight and Thursday on whether to close 14 struggling high schools.
The 2006 analysis conducted for the city by The Parthenon Group recognized the need to reduce high concentrations of low-level students at certain schools.
What surprised some who read the report was that "school closure" -- along with changes in admissions targets and efforts to recruit higher-performing students -- was listed as one way of achieving that goal.
No specific schools are named in the analysis, and department officials refused to give The Post access to their internal predictions of graduation rates for the 14 schools on the closure list.
They stressed that predicted graduation rate was not a factor in their decisions about which schools to close.
In response to claims that they were setting up schools to fail by assigning them the most challenging students, officials said that, apart from students who arrive mid-year, kids are given a choice of which high school to attend.
But among the high schools slated to close this year, 10 -- including Columbus HS in The Bronx and Paul Robeson HS in Brooklyn -- serve students whose eighth-grade math and reading scores put them in the bottom one-sixth of high-school students citywide, statistics show.
The same holds true for 10 other schools the city has already started to phase out.
Additional reporting by Michael Blaustein