In New York State, thanks to ex-President Barack Obama and his Bill Gates inspired Race to the top program, we have a teacher evaluation system that counts all students as part of the teacher's effectiveness as an instructor. Even students that aren't theirs! To account for all different types of students, the State developed a complex mathematical formula that turned out to be "junk Science" and was exposed as a farce by the courts. That brings me to how student growth of the most disadvantaged students affect the teacher evaluation system and why its not fair.
While New York City has been on the receiving end of the great economic recovery since the depths of the recession ending in early 2012. One area that has not recovered and has actually became significantly worse is the number of homeless students in the public school system. According to the Independent Budget Office (IBO), there has been a 44% increase in homeless students in the Bronx since 2012 and a 15% increase citywide since last year. In fact, over 40% of all homeless students attend Bronx schools. A more detailed IBO study on the homeless student can be found here.
Interestingly, the dramatic rise in homeless students attending Bronx schools coincided with the closing of the many large comprehensive high schools with their abundant resources to help these academically needy children in the Borough and the opening of the many Bloomberg small schools who lacked many of the resources for these vulnerable students.
Citywide there are 155 schools that have a homeless population of greater than 10%, compared to only 61 in 2012. That is an increase of 254%! The latest homeless student numbers show that there are 32,803 in the 2015-16 school year. The Bronx had the most homeless students with 13,729. followed by Brooklyn, with 9,223. Th lowest was Staten Island with only 971 kids.
Studies have shown the homeless students are the most vulnerable population and the most difficult to educate, due to their mobility and lack of security outside of the schools. Is it any wonder that schools resort to academic fraud to jack up graduation rates and encourage social promotion. I bet the 155 schools are major beneficiaries of lax DOE oversight that allows students to move ahead despite their academic deficiencies. Remember, homeless students are more likely to:
- Be absent from school more often.
- Score poorly on standardized tests.
- Drop out of school.
- More likely to repeat a grade.
- Have developmental difficulties.
For the 155 schools that have an over 10% homeless student population, is it really fair for these teachers to be evaluated on the most difficult to educate, due to their homelessness and lack of security outside the school? The answer is no!