January 24, 2017
Analyst: Derek Kulnis
The New York City Department of Education announced that parents will be able to access “Pre-K Quality snapshots” to help them choose the right pre-K program for their children.
The Department of Education also released new data on the implementation of pre-K across the city, including public report cards on nearly every site. The snapshots include the school’s scores on various assessments as well as the responses of family members to survey questions about the pre-K programs.
The public pre-kindergarten program now serves more than 70,000 students in approximately 1,800 schools and community based centers in New York City.
The Department of Education has observed more than 1,500 of the sites in the past two years, according to Cassi Feldman and Christina Veiga in Chalkbeat. They write that “on one measure, which uses a 7-point scale, 84 percent of the sites evaluated between 2013 and 2016 earned a 3.4 or higher, the threshold that indicates a positive effect on students, according to city officials. That’s up from 77 percent of the sites evaluated between 2012 and 2015.”
The schools are evaluated using the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-Revised, which Feldman and Veiga explain “includes a three-and-a-half hour inspection to evaluate things like whether the students are engaged in regular conversation, classroom furniture is child-sized, and a wide selection of books are provided.”
Feldman and Veiga cite Rutgers University professor Steven Barnett, who claims that the scores for New York’s schools are on par or better than other cities with pre-K programs that have been in place for approximately the same amount of time. Barnett explained to Feldman and Veiga that “to be in the second year of this rapid expansion and be doing this well, I think, is great,” but he stated that “this is the starting point, not the ending point.”
The city also used a second measure to evaluate the schools, called the Classroom Assessment Scoring System. According to Feldman and Veiga, “evaluators determine whether teachers are providing emotional support for their students, managing classrooms appropriately and encouraging student learning.”
They note that “on average, the programs improved slightly between 2014-15 and 2015-16 in the first two categories, but dipped slightly in the third, though still rating high enough to be considered effective, according to past research.”
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