Yesterday I said that High School Progress Reports were driven to a significant extent by a buried demographic: the populations of high-need/self contained Special Education students. Some schools took on these challenging students when other schools did not. Now, instead of being supported for it, they are being punished with low grades and threat of closure.
What follows are some charts I did not have time to post yesterday.
As we know, a school’s grade is largely determined by its performance relative to its peer group’s performance. Each dot on the chart below represents one of the schools in the peer groups of closing High Schools. Along the side of the chart is the percent of high-need Special Education students within the Special Education population.
Of the sixty-nine “A” schools in the peer group, forty had 5% or fewer of their Special Education students identified as “high-need.”
There were also were eighteen “D” schools in the peer group. When we look at their level of high-need Special Education students in schools getting a D, the graph is reversed.
Among schools with D’s, all except two had over 25% of their Special Education students in this category. A full third had over 55% of their Special Education students in this category. It’s pretty much the opposite of A’s.
Put it together and it looks like this:
Scatter-plots are fun to look at, but the teenagers in our high schools are not dots on a chart. They are students whose academic, social, or behavioral challenges are so significant that they are placed in classes of only 12 students. Schools that work with these students — and that means our closing schools — provide these young adults with lots of academic, emotional and social support — a tough job, and one that requires huge resources from the schools and the people who work there. But it’s not just a tough job. It’s also a labor of love because for the teachers and principals who work with these students these kids are worth it.
DOE’s management has made a mistake in its Progress Reports. What it owes our schools is an apology and a reprieve, not punishment.
DOE, are you listening?