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Report: DOE oversight system flawed

nyt20100616_5b.jpg A recent report by a research group said that the dizzying rate of management change at the Department of Education has made it hard to assess what’s working and what’s not.

Were the 10 regions a good idea? Never mind, they were soon replaced by the School Support Organizations. Did they work? Well, who knows? But now we have a new Children First Networks system. But the principals are accountable, right? They are, but how do we know what kind of job the 1,588 of them are doing?

The Center for New York City Affairs wisely tried to capture all this upheaval not by data alone, but by sending researchers and reporters into the schools hundreds of times over the course of this year. They interviewed scores of administrators, teachers and parent leaders, and took an independent look at School Progress Reports, School Environment Surveys and test scores.

The result, “Managing by the Numbers: Empowerment and Accountability in New York City’s Schools,” finds evidence of student progress and school improvement, but a deeply flawed system of oversight. Inexperienced or ineffective principals have been left to manage schools without much guidance or direction, sometimes winning high Progress Report grades when their schools offer “little more than a thin gruel of test prep,” in the words of co-authors Clara Hemphill and Kim Nauer.

They recommend a more nuanced accountability system, greater supervision for principals who need it and closing a school only when there is a plan for something better to replace it.

To access the full report, read Managing by the Numbers: 
Empowerment and Accountability in New York City's Schools
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