Leading de Blasio critics find a new fault: how New York City rates schools for students with disabilities
New reports designed to help parents judge the quality of programs that serve students with disabilities don’t include essential accountability data, a new analysis argues.
The report by the pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools examines the education department’s recently unveiled “School Quality Snapshots” for District 75 — which serves students with more complicated disabilities. It argues that those new quality reviews leave out useful student achievement data.
Among the new report’s key assertions is that data supplied under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s school quality reports included math and reading test scores and offered a more complete view of student achievement. The new snapshots, by contrast, rely on survey data and more complicated comparison groups that measure test performance among similar students instead of each school’s overall scores.
Education department officials called the report “misleading” and noted that many schools for students with disabilities got no Bloomberg-era public evaluations at all. Just 41 percent of District 75 schools received progress reports in the 2012-13 school year because many of their students did not take state tests, according to the department. An official also noted that since students’ needs vary widely, test scores across District 75 schools are not easily comparable.
The de Blasio administration just unveiled its first reports for District 75 schools last month, after releasing quality reports for traditional schools for two years. Families for Excellent Schools CEO Jeremiah Kittredge called the new snapshots “functionally useless to parents” — the latest jab in a public relations war over de Blasio’s management of the city’s schools.
Lori Podvesker, disability policy manager at INCLUDEnyc and a District 75 parent, said including the testing data that was used under Bloomberg isn’t a useful benchmark. But she said — as she did last month — that the city’s new reports are far from ideal.
“You can’t use the same criteria and quantitative data for students in community schools as you can with District 75 schools for the majority of students — that’s a real miss,” Podvesker said after reviewing the Families for Excellent Schools report. Still, she added, the city could include more useful data on how much progress students are making in their individual learning plans and include more basic information about what programs are offered.
“As a parent, [the city’s new snapshot] doesn’t tell me what programs are available — after school, during school, what kind of arts are offered,” Podvesker said. “We can do a better job.”
You can read the full report here.
This article was first published on Chalkbeat New York on July 12.