So, several rounds of feedback sessions concerning the school report cards have already been held (and are still ongoing–sign up here). This is after all feedback was supposedly stopped on May 4 (funny how long that month was/is). Adding to the time warp, just yesterday OSSE (the office of the state superintendent of education) announced it would be holding its own feedback sessions kinda sorta!
Here’s the schedule for this round of the latest feedback meetings, which start next week, on Tuesday June 19.
The idea behind all of these feedback sessions supposedly is to refine the language of the so-called school report cards. (Yes, rather than calling them “profiles,” OSSE is insisting they will be called “report cards.” Wonder which schools will get “failing grades” on their “report cards”? Heh: Here’s a thought.)
Anyway, in the first focus groups (the ones that actually were announced and held by OSSE), participants discussed a comparison feature, which would show five features that could be compared between schools. Participants chose the following, in this order:
1. School Programs
2. Grades Served
3. Teacher Information
4. School Safety and Discipline
5. Before and After School Care
Possibly because PARCC scores were rated at #7 and the summative STAR rating was #8, OSSE decided it would look at TEN features to be compared.
Sooo, here’s all that I know about this very odd roll-out of a (new? old?) desire for public feedback:
–OSSE contracted with a private company called Reingold LINK to work with community-based organizations to get people into these new discussion groups. The community-based organizations chosen were Higher Achievement; the Children’s Law Center; the Latin American Youth Center; the Fishing School; and PAVE. How these organizations were selected remains unknown publicly, but Ward 3 state board of education member Ruth Wattenberg was told that the organizations were chosen on the basis of their parent networks as well as connections to communities that OSSE particularly wanted to engaged with, including families in wards 7 and 8, English language learners, and families with disabilities.
–The public was always at a pretty far remove from this process, however: OSSE thought to connect with families by hiring a private outside firm to hire more private, outside groups.
–In addition, no ward education councils nor ANCs were apparently contacted by OSSE for this purpose of (secondary, tertiary?) outreach. Nor were parents contacted for this purpose directly by OSSE–despite that agency having contact information for every parent in the city who sends their child to a public school.
–In some cases, the organizations are providing child care and gift cards. It is not clear whose money is being used for this purpose. We know that one of the organizations, PAVE, is funded entirely by charter and education reform interests.
As you will recall, the first feedback sessions on the “report cards” consisted of mock-ups of report card web pages; participants were asked to give feedback merely on the arrangement of elements.
This time around, there seems to be a proposal afloat to exempt pre-school to third grade from any ratings, since those grades have no growth metric.
(Hmm: Maybe someone wants to tell OSSE that high schools, too, have no growth metric–maybe they should be exempted? Oh, and that a star rating is, um, a bit like equating your school to a movie–albeit a really REALLY expensive movie that happens to have bricks and mortar and people and kids who get hurt when their teachers go away and the school closes. You know, that silly old thing called a civic institution.)
Not surprisingly, it’s hard to know how this latest gambit at feedback will come out, given that OSSE has not updated its website on the report cards.
So better play it safe and show up at one of the feedback sessions.