Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pass More Students

The NY Daily News reports that a principal at an East Harlem high school sent a memo out to teachers telling them that they aren't passing enough students and need to dumb down their classes and pass more:

"If you are not passing more than 65% of your students in a class, then you are not designing your expectations to meet their abilities," Principal Bennett Lieberman wrote in a Nov. 28 memo to teachers at Central Park East High School. "You are setting your students up for failure, which in turn, limits your success as a professional."

The memo, obtained by the Daily News, urges teachers to review their homework and grading policies, and reminds them that "most of our students ... have difficult home lives, and struggle with life in general. They DO NOT have a similar upbringing nor a similar school experience to our experiences growing up."

One of the benchmarks the DOE uses to measure how well schools are doing is credit accumulation.

If students don't pass classes, they don't accumulate credits. And if they don't accumulate credits, the school does not do so well on the school report card. And if the school does not do well on the school report, the principal gets fired, the staff are dispersed and the school is closed.

So principals and assistant principals are putting pressure on teachers to pass more students.

In talking with friends of mine around the system, I know that Central Park East High School is not the only school in the system where teachers are being told to pass 90%+ of their students.

Homework, attendance, test scores - all of these benchmarks are out the window in the new "Pass More Students" movement coming from principals and assistant principals.

And yet, I'm not sure how dumbing down classes and pressuring teachers to pass students who don't deserve to pass their classes makes schools better or improves education.

But under the Bloombergian education reform movement, this is exactly what is happening.

As for Principal Bennett Lieberman, a graduate of the mayor's Leadership Academy, he apparently hasn't learned what many other principals and assistant principals have learned over the years - never put orders like "Pass More Students No Matter What!" in a memo which the Daily News can get its hands on.

POSTSCRIPT: Central Park East High School is one of 200 New York City public schools where teachers will receive merit pay if the school meets certain benchmarks.
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