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theschoolboards
02-19-2011, 10:22 AM
This from the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/nyregion/19schools.html) by Sharon Otterman:
New York City school officials said Friday that they would introduce a new, rigorous system of auditing the test scores, grading practices and graduation rates of the public high schools, appearing to acknowledge rising concerns that some schools might be manipulating the statistics they are judged by.

The move (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/HSAUDIT.pdf) comes as the city and the state have sought to raise standards to better prepare students for college and careers, and as mounting evidence has cast doubt on whether even the current standards are being met.

In at least the past two years, an unusually large number of students have obtained exactly the minimum score needed to pass state Regents exams, which are often graded by their regular teachers. City officials say the anomaly existed even before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took control of the city’s schools in 2003.

In an e-mail sent Friday to high school principals (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/PrincipalsLetter.pdf), Shael Polakow-Suransky, the department’s chief academic officer, said that auditors would look at how schools awarded course credits, graded Regents exams and tallied graduation figures in determining which schools to audit.

In a departure, the auditor general (http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/GeneralCounsel/OAG/default.htm) of the department, Brian Fleischer, is to oversee the new audits, to ensure greater independence. Previous audits were conducted case by case by the same office that develops the accountability practices.

“Ultimately, we want to have confidence, for ourselves, and for the public, in the data we use to measure schools,” Mr. Fleischer said. The new audit procedures, he said, “will be much more data-driven and systematic.”

About 60 high schools will be selected for the first round of audits, based on whether their data showed suspicious patterns, like sudden rises in scores, he said. Allegations of misconduct would be referred to the special commissioner of investigation for city schools. In the first year, however, the emphasis will be on providing guidance and training to schools so that employees understand what is expected.

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/nyregion/19schools.html)