Doe Tweaking Its Promotion Criteria

More Weight Given To Student Work

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced changes to the Department of Education’s (DOE) promotion policy for students in grades 3-8 with standard promotion criteria.

The proposed new policy, pending the approval of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) next month, would go into effect this school year in order to comply with recent changes in state law and to allow educators to make decisions about the students they know best while maintaining high standards.

“We have listened and worked closely with families, teachers and principals to establish a new promotion policy that complies with State law and empowers educators, takes the temperature down around testing, and keeps rigorous standards in place,” said Fariña. “This new way forward maintains accountability, but mitigates the unintended consequences of relying solely on a single test. Through a comprehensive evaluation of student work using multiple measures, our new policy is a step forward for students, parents, and schools.”

“It’s absolutely vital that students are ready to succeed in the next grade when they are promoted. The best way to do that, as the governor and legislature have affirmed, is to use multiple measures to make sure students are ready for promotion,” added State Education Commissioner John King. “We’ll work together with NYCDOE to make sure all our students are on the path to college and career readiness.”

Ten years ago, the DOE implemented a student promotion policy based on state exam scores. That approach, while intended to raise expectations for all students, often led to teachers “teaching to the test” and caused a great deal of anxiety in school communities.

Going forward, instead of having student promotion from one grade to the next based solely on exam results, teachers and principals will now determine which students are at risk of not making sufficient progress based on a more comprehensive, authentic review of their classroom work in addition to their test scores.

This shift to multiple measures represents another step toward aligning teaching with the more rigorous Common Core standards. This new approach will bring New York City in accordance with other districts in the state and with the recent changes to the state law.

To develop the new policy, the DOE consulted with and gathered feedback from families, teachers, principals, and education advocates. Many identified that, under the current policy, a student’s body of work over the course of the entire year was overlooked in favor of a single, standardized exam.

To remedy those concerns and incorporate multiple measures in accordance with state law, the DOE plans to implement several important changes:

Empowering educators-Based on a review of student work from the year, teachers and principals will identify the students they believe may be at risk of not being able to succeed in the next grade, even with support. State test results for the lowest-performing students will continue to be shared with schools in June. Schools may use this information as one of multiple pieces of evidence to assess student readiness for the next grade level, but they may not use it as the primary or major factor in those decisions.

Authentic student work- Teachers will complete promotion portfolios for students identified for possible retention. The guidance provided to schools about this process will be revised so that student promotion portfolios align to the Common Core, represent real classroom learning, and incorporate student work already completed throughout the school year.

Consistent, rigorous standards- The reviews of student portfolios in schools across the city will be judged against clear, consistent, criteria aligned to the Common Core. Superintendents will oversee this process for their schools.

As in past years, students whose promotion portfolios demonstrate that they are not ready for the next grade level, even with support, will be recommended for summer school. Superintendents will review schoollevel decisions before they are finalized.

In the past, when students completed summer school, their promotion was ultimately tied to a second standardized test in August. This year, student work from summer school will be incorporated into the promotion portfolio.

Principals will review these portfolios in August and make a holistic promotion decision for each student. Superintendents will continue to review promotion appeals for cases in which a parent disagrees with the principal’s decision.

In 2013, consistent with prior school years, approximately 10 percent of students in grades 3-8 were recommended for summer school, with 2.5 percent ultimately retained. The DOE anticipates consistent levels of retention with this new approach.

Students with disabilities and English language learners who have different promotion criteria will not be impacted by this change in policy. Moreover, the promotion policy for students from kindergarten through second grade and high school will remain consistent with previous years.

The new policy requires a revision to the Chancellor’s Regulation A-501, which will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy at its May 29 meeting. If the PEP approves the policy, the revised policy will go into effect this year.

More from Around New York