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NYC Public High School records now available to the public

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 6/13/2013, 2:09 p.m.

A new report from New York City's Independent Budget Office (IBO) details the numbers behind New York City's public schools without an ideological bent. Titled "New York City Public School Indicators: Demographics, Resources, Outcomes," the report gathers information culled from the records of every public school student from every school in the five boroughs and presents a picture of young New York and the people educating them. The study delves into demographics, funding and tests scores as well who occupies teaching jobs.

In the 2011-2012 school year, 82.9 percent of New York's public school students were born in the United States. The next two regions with the most public school students in New York City were the Caribbean and Asia, which were tied with 5.4 percent apiece.

Overall, 40.2 percent of New York's public school students in 2011-2012 were Hispanic, which is a 0.7 percent increase from the previous school year. Between 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, Black representation in New York public schools dipped 0.6 percent (from 28.8 percent to 28.2 percent). Another statistic shows that Asian/Pacific Islanders had the highest attendance rate in 2011-2012 at 94.6 percent. Blacks had the lowest rate at 87.6 percent.

In one table detailing the poverty level of public school students by grade, there's a huge spike in the "free or reduced-price lunch" category from 46.1 percent in pre-K to 82.6 percent in kindergarten in the 2011-2012 school year. Those numbers are due to the financial inability of those living in poverty to afford pre-K or day care.

Continuing on the poverty issue, one table presents the performance on students in English language arts and math when divided by eligibility for free lunch. In the 2011-2012 school year, the majority of students who qualified for free lunch (83.9 percent) scored a 2 or 3 out of a possible 4. The majority of those who had to pay full price for lunch (76.3 percent) scored 3 or higher.

The report states that the IBO is aware of other types of Regents exams for high school students, but for this report, they "are less concerned with the absolute passing rates than with the relative passing rates of different groups of students. In making those comparisons, we have developed the following indicator: Regents pass rates for English and math represent the proportion of students who took each test in 2010-2011 (and 2011-2012) that scored at each proficiency level."

The report also noted that for students who took exams more than once, the highest score was counted. In a table that details the basics characteristics of teachers, it shows that in 2011-2012, 76 percent of public school teachers were female with an average age of 40, and they had served almost 11 years in the profession.

The AmNews discussed the report and the methodology involved in putting the numbers all together with a spokesperson from the IBO.

"Back in 2009, the state Legislature wrote into the state education law that the independent office would be responsible for receiving and commenting on data and progress," said the spokesperson. "It requires the chancellor to provide to us anything necessary to do our work. Everything in this work is based on DOE [Department of Education] data. They are required to open the books for us."

"When a child enrolls in a school for the first time and a school's secretary enters them into the system, everything is posted to that place, including attendance and test scores," continued the spokesperson. "That's the information we're gathering. We see school budgets on a month-by-month basis. We get information on buildings and class size. This has been a process over the past couple of years to gather the data and produce the most accurate report possible."

The spokesperson was also quick to point out that the students' names weren't revealed with the information that received. Also, while the report presents a plethora of information that could be used for a variety of things, the IBO admits it isn't exhaustive.

"Some important questions cannot be answered in this type of purely descriptive format," the report reads. "IBO will address those issues in more detailed and analytically sophisticated reports. With the exception of the citywide budget information presented in section three, all data in this report refers to students and staff of the New York City public school system."

The report doesn't include students or staff in public charter school or publicly finances private special education program.