I was always wondering why the State's and the City's idea of academic excellence were somewhat different. So I decided to look at what differences are there in Science and to my shock I found out that the City was allowed to quietly water down the Science requirements. No wonder, that the City would always report different results than the State.
For example, two years ago the City DOE quietly changed the academic requirements metric for Science by allowing schools to get two years science credit for a one year Regents course. That's right, by quietly changing the standards the DOE enabled some principals to give double credit for a Regents Science course as long as they gave double periods or made it a two year course. One school in particular went as far as giving their students a two year "Living Environment" course and then take a non-Regents course in Earth Science, Chemistry, or Physics to satisfy the Physical Science laboratory requirement. If this sounds like shortchanging the students and fooling their parents, it certainly is to me. However, the CUNY and SUNY colleges are not fooled one bit and one recruiter told me that when they see no second Science Regents, the chances of the student getting into her college is diminished. The recruiter went on to say that the City and State colleges are aware of the watering down of the City's Science curriculum and their Admissions Office investigate more closely the student's transcript. Finally, the "college readiness" scores for the NYC high schools showed that most of the "college and career ready" students (50%) came from only a few schools (10%). The watering down of the Science curriclumn will not help the scores any.
This is not happening only in the struggling City schools but in schools that are solidly middle-class and high achieving. In one case, the Principal of this high achieving school has decided to have his students skip Earth Science altogether and give a double period of Chemistry. While it will take a year to see the results, the Science staff is not optimistic since many students cannot handle the Math and advanced scientific concepts that are required in Chemistry. For many of the students it will be a wasted year of frustration and failure.
While I cannot say anything about the rest of the core subjects, the DOE is apparently allowing principals to dumb down and narrow the science requirements at the expense of their student's academic achievement and this is a problem for many students and their parents who expect academic excellence and not shortcuts or watered down requirements that will hurt their chances of going to a four year college.
The DOE should be ashamed of themselves for their "watering down" and narrowing the Science curriculumn and allowing principals to practice "education on the cheap" at the expense of their students academic success..