At the request of a commenter on my recent post, I am posting a second, more detailed chart on the relationship of graduation rates to the percent of self-contained special education students. Graduation Rates decline as the percentages of self-contained students in a school rise. As self-evident as this relationship is to anyone in the schools, Tweed continually points to graduation rates at some of our closing schools and then claims that other schools with similar populations do better. However the DoE peer schools with supposedly similar populations often serve few or no self contained special education students. Graduation rates generally track the rate of self-contained special education in a school: as the population goes up, the graduation rates go down. The same is true for the overall score on the Progress Report.
It seems impossible to me that Tweed would not be well aware of the situation shown above, and equally aware that when statistics track across demographics, it is no longer the quality of the school or the quality of the teachers being measured, but the level of challenges that self-contained students bring to school. How can DoE not know? Haven’t newer schools been exempt from admitting these students for just that reason?
And meanwhile, lest the thought here is that I am advocating for a shrug of the shoulders and an abandonment of these students, let me assure you I am not. With a lot of individual attention and intelligent, cohesive work, self-contained students can experience tremendous success in school. But that’s not the kind of thing Tweed has encouraged. Read this comment left on Edwize from one special education teacher in the Bronx:
… special ed classrooms are the ones with the least resources. Technology, academic programs are given to the self-contained classes last. Even though special ed allocations are higher per student, principals tend to divert resources away from special education. Delivering the services are expensive and principals are hesitant to invest all their resources on students that traditionally have not performed as well on standardized test. I have students at a 1st grade level, 2nd grade level and 3rd grade level in an 8th grade class. I have had students that are at grade level but … that is the exception not the general rule. The work is grueling and it takes a lot of dedication and planning on the behalf of the teacher. I teach three major subjects and receive minimum support because none of the A.P.s or principals have special education experience or training…The principals are overseers of complex laws and regulations that they do not have knowledge about. So blaming the kids, blaming the teachers or even the principals for such an absurd system is flawed. Tweed should be blamed for not having a system in place to support the special ed classrooms.