De Blasio's DOE Declines to Evaluate Schools for Students with Disabilities

Chalkbeat reports today that the New York City Board of Education, which just issued new school "quality reports," left out schools serving the city’s neediest students:
Together, the schools enroll as many students as the city of Buffalo. Yet they have not received public report cards since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office nearly two years ago, even though the same schools received yearly progress reports under the previous administration.  
Schools that have now been left out of two rounds of annual reports include “transfer” schools, which enroll drop-outs and students who fell far behind at traditional high schools, and schools in District 75, which serve students with severe disabilities at over 300 sites across the city. Together, the two groups of schools enroll roughly 35,000 students.
Advocates for children with disabilities and those with a history of failure at traditional schools responded with appropriate concern:
You’re sort of letting those schools off the hook in terms of any accountability measures,” said Kim Nauer, education research director at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. The need to come up with fair metrics for those schools should not keep them waiting indefinitely for reports, she added.
“[NYC Chancellor Carmen] Fariña definitely stood on the stage and told us to our faces that they were going to change the way they evaluate transfer schools to reflect the population that we serve,” said Santana, who runs a job-readiness program at Aspirations High School, a Brooklyn transfer school. “To my knowledge, that hasn’t happened.”
New York City groups its 56 schools for disabilities into one district, District 75. In the past, these schools received report cards, which included student growth percentiles, academic expectations, movement to less restrictive settings, safety, etc. Now, if a parent goes to the NYC DOE report card database and looks up one of  those schools, this message appears: “This report does not exist.”

Not terribly helpful to parents searching for the best school for their child diagnosed with autism or brain injury or hearing impairment or any other disability that requires specialized services.

Now, to be fair, the quality of schools with such needy students – those with severe disabilities and those who have a history of failure – is challenging to quantify. Yet these students’ families need the information at least as much as parents of less needy students.

So why would the De Blasio Administration decline to evaluate District 75 schools, which had been rated during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure (after a brief hiatus to update metrics and categories) and  which parents, from all reports, found useful.  Chalkbeat speculates that report cards would give an “unfairly negative view of their performance.” But this isn’t supposed to be about marketing; it’s supposed to be about access to information.

A DOE spokesman said that parents could ask their guidance counselors for help. Thanks for nothing.

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