Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The DOE's Idea Of Academic Excellence Is Different From The State And The Colleges Know It When It Comes To Science.

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..


Anonymous said...

The only shame the DOE will feel on this is the shame of once again, the got caught. The shame won't last long or make a difference, but hey, they would have to care for that to happen.

Anonymous said...

chaz you are right on the mark on what some schools are doing. However, it's probably true that the DOE is technically meeting the State science standard. Still, it is a crime that some schools are giving their students an inferior science education by allowing them double credits for their one year Regents course.

I guess principals will do anything to save a buck and play the system.

Chaz said...

Anon 10:46

While it may be true that the DOE is technically meeting State requirements. It is morally wrong to deprive their students of an excellent science education and limiting choices just to achieve a better Regents passing rate at the expense of "college readiness".

Anonymous said...

Love your blog but can't agree entirely on this one. A kid with Living Environment and Chemistry credits and Regents on his transcript is far more impressive to colleges than one with Living Environment and Earth Science credits and Regents. I know you have to defend your license, but two year or double period Chemistry is better for the kid.

Chaz said...

Anon 5:55

You're right, if the student can handle Chemistry, many cannot.

In my old school the Principal did try to send every student to Chemistry and gave Earth Science only to the students who struggled in Science. The result? The Chemistry Regents passing percentage plummeted from 62% the year before to 13% that year. The next year the Principal abandoned the attempt.

This is not protecting my license since Earth Science teachers are hard to find but about shortchanging the students by limiting their choices.

Anonymous said...

This is not criminal at all. I teach chemistry. Some students move slower, and since the DOE has concentrated poverty and weak readers in certain schools, schools are trying something new besides just failing students repeatedly (to "teach them a lesson.") I wish my school gave more time to chemistry, the students definitely need it.

It makes perfect sense to move more slowly through concepts of genetics evolution and ecology. You can have a much richer curriculum that will produce meaningful learning instead of just teaching to the test.

Living Environment regents is relatively simple to pass if you can read and know the general principles of scientific method. If you do not you need more time to develop these skills.

Sorry to disagree with you here Chaz. Nobody is trying to cheat students or fool colleges. Some schools are simply trying broader curriculum to meet the needs of the students. That is what teachers are here to do.

If a school didn't offer chemistry or physics as an option, that would be a crime.

Chaz said...

Let me mike myself clear here. Narrowing the science curriculum to two courses is cheating the students! Giving double credit is just another way in devaluing science education. By forcing students to jump from an easier level science "Living Environment" to a higher level Science "Chemistry" is only good for those students having the skills to do so.

The school I was in this year did it right. They looked at the Math and Living Environment Regents scores and that determined if the student was ready for high level Chemistry or intermediate level Earth Science. All schools should follow this procedure. I'm sure you would not be happy in the year that student scores count that your Regents passing grade drops dramatically

What looks better on a transcript? A student passing the Earth Science Regents or the student that fails the Chemistry Regents?

Anonymous said...

Chemistry teacher?

Do you believe that all the school's students will pass? I am a Physics teacher and I saw first hand what a disaster it is when you put unprepared students in higher level science.

In my school the experiment that Chaz said happened in his old school was tried with similar bad results in my school. The Assistant Principal was demoted and now works as a teacher in another school. Not every student can handle the higher level Sciences and you should know better.

Anonymous said...

My Assistant Principal took the opposite track. He requires every student to take Living Environment and Earth Science and for those that pass the two Regents he allows them to take Chemistry.

Believe it or not it seems to work. We get a very high Regents passing rate in Chemistry and most of them get an advanced Regents diploma. I guess you don't mess with success.

Anonymous said...

I believe principals will do anything to save a dollar and that includes hiring fewer teachers and limiting courses.

Anonymous said...

It's about time somebody discussed what schools are doing about the science curriculum. In my school there is massive credit recovery for students who couldn't be bothered showing up to class.

When it comes to the science courses, my school only cares if the students take Living Environment and then take Earth Science as an optional Regents course. There are no Chemistry or Physics courses available. In Southern Queens very few students are eligible for the advanced Regents diploma.

Anonymous said...

Credit recovery is a pathetic farce. Do you think countries like Germany, China, etc. allow their students to fool around all year and then eke through with credit recovery? And how does a piecemeal repeat of only the parts you didn't do well in possibly give a student any overall understanding of a subject? The very concept of credit recovery is as much a crime against the student and society as a jewel heist.

Science courses have been dumbed down across the board and many important items in science curricula have been eliminated. How is that going to supply the U.S. with scientists in the future? In an article in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/science/panel-calls-for-broad-changes-in-science-education.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) the lefties put in charge of education are going to further pare down the focus of living environment, for example, focusing on "climate change" (i.e. global warming, which is a fake concern based on bad science) and a very few other lefty darling topics. They intend to start brainwashing kids about "climate change" (and therefore all the socialist things they will have to "do differently" to minimize global warming--get 'em young, I tell ya) starting in middle school. Forget bone cells, how the eye works, how muscles contract. This is all outlined at:


This seems to be the way to create drone employees in the future who will know enough technical science to do their jobs and that's it.