Monday, September 15, 2008

Regents and State Ed demand real accountability from NYC DOE on Class Size!

Leonie Haimson to NYC Education News Listserve:

Today, the State Education Department and the Regents announced that despite being provided with millions of dollars in additional state aid last year, dollars that should have been used to reduce class size, in nearly 54% of NYC schools, class sizes and/or student-teacher ratio increased.

In seventy NYC schools that received $100,000 or more to specifically reduce class size, both class size and student-teacher ratio increased. Those seventy schools alone account for nearly $20 million in wasted funds.

In elementary schools, nearly 40% of those schools with the highest class sizes failed to reduce class size. Not surprisingly, SED concluded, DOE failed to make its first year class size reduction targets and must improve compliance in the future.

State Ed also said that because of DOE’s sloppy reporting and poor performance, more detailed reporting will be required, as well as certified audits to show that C4E funds are being used appropriately and not being used to supplant city funds.

DOE must also give a detailed accounting of how they are using the class size funds in every school, to show how many extra teachers are being hired, in what grades and/or subjects, and to what effect. They must also demonstrate how these reductions at the school level will allow them to achieve the targets in their citywide plan this year. If this does not occur, SED says it will withhold additional C4E funds.

This sort of forthright statement is nearly unprecedented for the State Education Department, and is a real step forward in terms of accountability and transparency.

As parents, we rejoice and commend the State for stepping up to the plate, and performing its critical oversight responsibilities -- to make sure that the funds that are supposed to provide our children with their right to an adequate education, are properly spent.


The statement from State Ed follows.

Leonie Haimson

Executive Director

Class Size Matters

124 Waverly Pl.

New York, NY 10011


Please make a tax-deductible contribution to Class Size Matters now!

-----Original Message-----

------ Forwarded Message

From: Tom Dunn

Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2008 14:25:26 -0400

To: Jonathan Burman

Conversation: Regents receive State Education Department Contract for Excellence report - News release

Subject: Regents receive State Education Department Contract for Excellence report - News release




The State Education Department presented the findings of its monitoring

of the "Contract for Excellence" school districts to the Board of

Regents today. The Department reported that the vast majority of those

districts implemented their contract provisions, providing new and

expanded programs and services shown to improve student performance.

There are exceptions, however - particularly with regard to required

class size reductions - that must be corrected.

The 2007-08 State budget required, for the first time, that certain

school districts enter into "Contracts for Excellence" and spend a

portion of their Foundation Aid increase on certain allowable programs

and activities. Contract for Excellence school districts are required to

implement proven programs and activities primarily focused on students

with the greatest educational needs. These districts could use funds for

class size reduction; time on task; teacher/principal quality

initiatives; middle school/high school restructuring; and full day

pre-kindergarten/kindergarten and experimental programs. For the 2007-08

school-year, 55 school districts across the State - made up of over

1,500 schools with a total enrollment of 1.1 million students - were

required to adopt Contracts.

"The Regents insist that districts meet their Contract

obligations," said Regents Chancellor Robert M. Bennett. "It's

encouraging to see that most have substantially complied. We will make

certain that those who haven't will quickly come into compliance."

State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said, "The Legislature and

the Executive have given schools record amounts of State Aid to help

improve performance through proven methods, like class size reduction.

With that added funding comes added responsibility. The Department and I

will continue to work closely with Contract districts to ensure that

they meet their commitments."

To meet the Regents expectation that the terms of the approved

Contracts are being met, the Department conducted monitoring visits to

183 schools in Contract districts between March and May 2008. Since it

was not possible to conduct site-visits at all 1,500 schools impacted by

the Contracts for Excellence, the Department visited a sample of schools

in each district based on student performance. The more schools

identified as "in need of improvement" in a district, the more

schools the Department selected for monitoring.

Department monitoring visits assessed implementation in the following


* Implementation of the 2007-08 Contract as approved;

* Public comment process for 2007-08 Contracts;

* Established procedures for parent complaint;

* Improved student performance and expectation of achievement of

contract performance targets; and

* Public comment process for 2008-09 Contracts.

In general, Department monitors found that the majority of Contract

districts substantially implemented the Contract provisions as approved

by the Commissioner. In those districts where Department monitors had

concerns about implementation, detailed monitoring reports that included

findings and corrective action steps that need to be taken were provided

to them. And those districts must prepare a corrective action plan to

correct deficiencies within 30 days.

New York City Class Size Reduction

In its Contract, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) was

required to reduce the average class size in its public schools, as part

of a broad, five-year class size reduction plan. NYCDOE substantially

increased the number of classroom teachers, by 1,892, and made progress

toward achievement of the citywide targets they established. However,

they did not fully achieve the 2007-08 school-year citywide class size

targets the NYCDOE established in their plan.

Grade Level Baseline 06-07

(October 2006) C4E Target from approved November 2007 Plan 2008

Interim NYC DOE Report Preliminary Citywide Reported Change

K-3 21.0 20.7 20.9 -0.1

4-8 25.6 24.8 25.1 -0.5

9-12 28.3 27.7 27.8 -0.5

NYCDOE made progress toward achieving its 2007-08 school-year pupil to

teacher ratio targets. As permitted by law, much of the New York

City's class size funding was used to reduce pupil-teacher ratios

rather than reduce official class sizes.

Overall, 53.9% of New York City schools reported that either class size

or pupil-to-teacher ratio increased in 2007-08. In contrast, 46.1% of

schools reported decreases in both class size and pupil-to-teacher


NYCDOE will be required to improve implementation of the second year of

its class size plan. And based upon the Department's findings, certain

actions have already been taken by NYCDOE, including:

1. For 2008-09, the timing of funding designations and Contract for

Excellence allocations has already allowed class size planning to occur

when it is more likely to impact system and school-level resource


2. The NYCDOE also reports that its other school-level planning

efforts, including the Comprehensive Education Plan (CEP) process and

School Support Organizations technical assistance programs, have been

aligned with class size reduction planning efforts, making it more

likely and easier for schools to achieve reductions.

Beyond these changes, the Department is also requiring that the

following actions be taken by the NYCDOE, among others:

1. NYCDOE must provide evidence of how Contract funds were used

appropriately to support class size reduction in schools in the 70

schools that received $100,000 or more in Contract funding but in which

class sizes and pupil-teacher ratios increased. In addition, all

Contract districts, including New York City, are required to submit

certified audit reports that show that systems are in place to

separately track receipt and spending of Contract for Excellence funding

for purposes of assessing that contract funding is targeted to schools

consistent with the approved Contract and that the increase in total

foundation aid and supplemental improvement plan grants have been used

to supplement and not supplant funds allocated by the district in the

previous year.

2. NYCDOE must provide SED with class size and pupil-to-teacher

targets for each school and a detailed description of how many

additional classrooms are to be created in school year 2008-09 under the

Class Size Reduction Option for each school, including the grades,

subjects and/or special populations that are targeted for reduced

teacher/student ratios for 2008-09.

NYCDOE's 2008-2009 class size reduction plan will be approved only

after all required actions have been taken. To receive approval, NYCDOE

must demonstrate that the elements of its plan will result in NYCDOE

achieving its 2008-2009 average class size and pupil-to-teacher ratio


The Commissioner's Class Size Panel will make recommendations on

future class size targets and provide guidance on NYCDOE's five year

plan. The panel will also recommend methodologies that can be used

statewide to calculate class sizes and pupil-to-teacher ratios. The

Commissioner then must set class size targets and pupil-to-teacher ratio


Next Steps for all Contract for Excellence Districts Statewide

The Department is using what we learned in the first-year

of Contract for Excellence implementation and monitoring to inform the

approval process for the 2008-09 Contracts. Building upon that

knowledge, the Department will, among other things, continue to meet

with Contract districts, provide technical assistance, and review final

monitoring reports provided by districts; review New York City's class

size data and detailed year-end expenditure reports; provide the Regents

with analyses of broad trends in student performance in C4E districts,

once a full set of test results are available; and report to the Regents

on the degree to which schools were successful in meeting performance

targets. Additionally, the Department is discussing potential

consequences in the event that districts do not carry out the terms of

their Contracts and/or fail to follow-through on corrective actions

The Regents Monitoring Report as well as several supporting documents

are attached

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