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Bronx HS Learning Environment Surveys – do they tell us anything?

July 24, 2011 pm31 11:12 pm

Very little. But a few things.

There are now on the New Action website Bronx high school teacher responses to questions about how trustworthy, competent, supportive, and collaborative our principals are. Just looking at them, three things stand out:

1. Raw scores. Some principals consistently hit very high, some high, some are very low, and some low. It could be argued that these are just the measure of how likable a principal is, but I would argue otherwise. OTOH, I would not use these numbers to distinguish between an 8.1 and a 7.7 principal – obviously the scale is somewhat personal and somewhat school-based.

Consistently at the top: Gary Eisinger, Bronx Academy HS (being closed!); Rex Bobbish, the Cinema School; Nancy Mann, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS; Anthony Harris, Crotona Academy HS; Maria Herrera, Renaissance HS for Musical Theater and Tech; Estelle Hans (retiring), Collegiate Institute for Math and Science; Sarah Scroggin, East Bronx Academy of the Future; Brady Smith, Validus Preparatory Academy; Colin Thomas, Bronx Regional HS; and D White, Bronx Expeditionary Learning HS.

Consistently at the bottom: Lisa Luft, JFK HS; Sharon Smalls, Jane Addams HS for Academic Careers; John Tornifolio, School for Community Research and Learning (SCRL); Charles Ogundimu, Monroe Academy for Business and Law (MABL); Willie Rodriguez, Celia Cruz Bronx HS of Music; Joyce Mills Kittrell, Samuel Gompers CTE HS; Eulynis Matthais, Performance Conservatory HS; Cliff Siegel, Gateway School for Environmental Research and Technology; and Bridgit Claire Bye, Pan American International HS.

There were a few who came low, but not as low as I would have expected, and some high, but not quite as high as expected.

After other boroughs are scrutinized, we will have some sense of how normal the Bronx is not. Those numbers in the middle may turn out to be typical of the middle for the whole city, or they may be much lower.

2. Comparisons between types of schools. Transfer schools, as a group, had better results. Staff commitment, principal commitment, I’d be willing to wager. 6-12 schools, while not at the bottom, bunched towards the lower middle. Especially in this era of over-testing, it is unlikely to find an administration that is current with both the 6-8 and the secondary standards and the tests that enforce them. Conversely, which campuses did best or worst? None. Many campuses had representatives at the top and at the bottom of the list. There does not seem to be a geographic bias, though it’s worth taking another look.

3. Uneven scores. What do you make of a principal that has one score much higher or lower than the rest?  All 7s, but a 5 for trustworthiness? Or 5s and 6s, but 7 for competence? Or 8s and 9s, but a 6 for competence? These are the most interesting stories of all.

4. Other questions. Is there a big enough variety of courses to keep kids engaged?  Students and teachers had interesting answers to this question in mini-schools, and especially in charter schools. How many years experience do you have? 44/115 had at least a quarter of their teachers self-report 0-3 years experience. These are schools where a good number of the kids have been around longer than a good number of the adults. Twenty of the schools had 40% or more with 0-3 experience. But I did not see relationships here, other than charter schools having the least experienced staffs.

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