Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Idea To Improve Student Academic Achievement In The New York City Public High Schools.

I have gone to many schools this year and watched the different ideas on how to improve student academic achievement. These ideas range from pretesting students with a test before giving them the same test two days later (I call this cheating) to fudging scholarship grades of students who don't even come close to passing the dumbed down entry level Regents and endanger not only the next group of teachers who now have to explain to the Administration why these students who were given undeserved grades in the 70's and 80's aren't passing the harder course the next year but also allows students to believe that they don't need to work hard to graduate high school. Moreover, too many schools use technology as a crutch and not an aid to student learning. Just look at the explosion of "credit recovery programs" that artificially increase the school's graduation rate while having an abysmal "career and college readiness" percentage.

One of the most overriding issues is the lack of student discipline in many of the schools and that must be blamed on the school's Administration. I have seen first-hand when the Administration takes charge how the school tone changes and the academic improvement that results from it. Too many schools allow cellphones, ipods, and thuggish clothes (hip-hop pants with the underwear showing) and students who fail to go to class as an acceptable or tolerated practice. The result is that the school academics eventually fail. However, if you look at the better schools, student discipline is not an issue. Strict enforcement of student discipline is part of the answer to improving student academic achievement.

Just as important in improving student academic achievement is putting teachers and students together in groups, when possible. For example all 136 students have the same core course teachers (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) who meet in their professional period to discuss their students. How is the student progressing? Is the student only acting up in one class or all four? Is the student having personal issues that one teacher knows about and can alert the others? This four teacher group can better work with the student and the parents to bring out the academic potential. In some cases, after freshman year it can be a logistical nightmare. However, if done properly, the student will have a knowledgeable corps of teachers who can readily design a program to improve the student's academic achievement.

For those students that are having academic or behavioral issues that are beyond the capability of the core teachers, they will receive specific counseling services from Guidance, the Social Worker, and other professionals who work with problem students. While my approach is not a solution to an increasingly vexing problem in the New York City High Schools, it is certainly worth a try in my version of "children first".


Anonymous said...

at the last school I was at there were constant reminders over the loud speaker about when the credit recovery classes were being held - and the lack of discipline in most of the small schools is obvious - kids blatantly wearing hats in class and when the bells ring for each period 75% of the students are still hanging out in the hallways - they seem to stream into class whenever they want - and guess who the administration blames for everything..............

Rod said...

Chaz, you are right on the money and I applaud you're persistence. However, I'm burned-out. Like you I've been traded to 10 schools as an ATR and have seen the damage in all these schools. Only a teacher cares about the kids because we work with them in the classroom everyday. Not the UFT, the DOE or the administrators. The last have left the classroom because they have given up and chose the easy way out. They should have left the profession.....but cannot do anything else. They are an embarrassment to the profession. Yet they decide the future for our children. How wrong they are. I wish teachers would wake up and grasp reality. Nobody else cares.

Anonymous said...

The lack of discipline among the majority of students in NYC schools is the 600 pound gorilla that is largely ignored and swept under the rug by Bloomberg and his minions in the DOE.

Wonder why this issue is not addressed? IMO- no matter how terrific a teacher may be, no learning will occur in a classroom when the kids are running wild and don't fulfill their end of the educational bargain.

Anonymous said...


You are required to obey the NYC Department of Education’s “Citywide Standards of Discipline and Intervention Measures” to be distributed separately, and available on the Department of Education’s website at


In addition, Section 3210, Subdivision 1a of the New York State Education Law states:

§ 3210. Amount and character of required attendance.

1. Regularity and conduct.

a. A minor required by the provisions of part one of this article to attend upon instruction shall attend regularly as prescribed where he resides or is employed, for the entire time the appropriate public schools or classes are in session and shall be subordinate and orderly while so attending.

In simple language, the above means:

No talking while the teacher is teaching, explaining something, or asking or answering a question! No shouting, yelling, calling out, cursing, disrespect, throwing things, demands for the room pass, fighting, or otherwise disruptive conduct at any time! Always follow all directions issued by school staff!

Courts in New York State have interpreted this section of the Education Law as meaning that there is a legal requirement for students to behave properly in school. For example, in the lawsuit Schwartz v. Schuker (298 F. Supp. 238), the judge’s decision found that students who are grossly disrespectful and contemptful of school officials may be suspended or expelled.

As far as this teacher is concerned, guidance counselors and deans will be asked to look into situations in which specific students show an unwillingness or inability to behave in a proper manner. Mature conduct, common courtesy, and a generally cooperative attitude will be expected at all times. If necessary, parents or legal guardians will be contacted by phone or mail, in addition to notification being given to the guidance counselors and deans.

If there is a problem with any specific student, the guidance counselor will be requested to arrange a meeting in the Guidance Office between the teacher and the student to discuss the situation. If necessary, the student’s parent or legal guardian will be informed of the meeting, and will be requested to attend.

All students should also be aware that all colleges, and many employers, are going to require that applicants submit information from high school, such as letters of recommendation and transcripts. This teacher never accepts, as an explanation for misconduct, “But I wasn’t the only one!” or “Everyone else was also...!”