GUIDE TO DOE'S EMPOWERMENT SCHOOLS
As part of the DOE's comprehensive accountability initiative, all New York City schools will receive a graded
Progress Report and a Quality Score. This continuation of the Children First school reforms will help educators
harness information to drive high-quality teaching and learning and give parents the information they need to
evaluate schools and assess their children's progress. Empowerment Schools will be at the forefront of the
accountability initiative, as outlined below.
All New York City schools will receive a Progress Report with an A, B, C, D, or F letter grade beginning in
Summer 2007. The Progress Report is designed to measure each school's contribution to student academic
progress, no matter where each child begins his or her journey to proficiency and beyond. The Report does not
focus on the capacities students bring with them on the first day, but rather on the capacities students develop as
a result of attending the school.
There are three broad categories of academic outcomes for which schools will be held accountable:
As to each of these categories, schools will be graded based on:
- Student Performance: percent of elementary and middle school students at proficiency levels 3 or 4
(grades 3-8); percent of entering high school students receiving each type of diploma after four and six
- Student Progress: Average gains in ELA and math proficiency (grades 3-8) and in credit accumulation
and Regents tests passed (HS) as students move from one grade to the next at the school. The progress
measures are sensitive enough to capture and award credit for student progress within as well as across
proficiency levels, e.g., credit will be awarded for progress from low Level 2 to high Level 2, as well as
from high Level 2 to low Level 3. This category will receive the most weight.
- School Environment: Attendance, safety, and student/parent/teacher engagement and satisfaction as
measured by surveys.
- The school's outcome in the current year.
- A comparison of the school's current outcome to its performance during the prior three-year period.
- A comparison of the school's performance in the current year to that of "peer schools," i.e., schools with
similar populations (based on free lunch, demographics, ELL, Special Ed, and mobility). This criterion
will receive the most weight.
- Whether the school met improvement targets set for that year in the preceding year's Progress Report.
The overall grade will be based on a comparison of a school's overall performance on all of these criteria to the
performance of all schools in the City in the recent past. To get an A, a school will have to perform as well as
the top 15% of the City's public schools in 2002-2005; to get a B, a school will have to perform as well as the
next 40%; to get a C, the next 30%; a D, the next 10%, and an F, the bottom 5%. By pegging grades to historic
system-wide performance, we ensure that a grade of A truly denotes excellence. There is no limit to the number
of schools that can achieve an A in each criterion.
Empowerment Schools will receive Progress Reports in Summer 2006. These Reports will have information
about the school's academic outcomes during the 2005-2006 school year and performance targets for the 2006-
2007 school year but will not have an overall grade. Each school's performance targets will be based on
improvement levels that recent NYC experience show to be within reach of schools with similar populations.
Empowerment Schools will receive their first graded Progress Reports in Summer 2007, which will also
contain performance targets for the following (2007-2008) school year. (Please note that all NYC schools will
receive graded Progress Reports in Summer 2007 with performance targets for the 2007-2008 school year.)
All New York Schools will receive a Quality Score of + (well developed), (proficient), or (undeveloped), . .
based on an individual onsite Quality Review. The Quality Review has been developed to assist schools in
raising student achievement. It is designed to measure a school's progress in using available information and
ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of instruction to improve the learning of all children and groups of
children. The process also provides:
- A structured opportunity for review and constructive feedback;
- Support and encouragement for the school's ongoing self-evaluation; and
- A springboard for school improvement planning.
Schools will be evaluated according to their own stated goals and the DOE's Quality Review rubric, which
captures schools' success in:
Schools will be scored as either Well-Developed, Proficient, or Underdeveloped.
- Gathering Data on All Students' Outcomes and Capacities
- Planning and Setting Goals for Individual Students, Classrooms, and the School
- Aligning Instruction
- Building and Aligning Capacity
- Monitoring and Revising Plans and Goals
Principals and faculty may be assured that the reviewers coming into their schools are independent, free from
personal bias and have significant school leadership experience that equips them for effective school review
and evaluation. All reviewers will sign, and are committed to, a Code of Conduct that will guide their work and
Approximately 100 DOE schools received Quality Reviews in April-June 2006 as part of a pilot program. All
New York City schools will receive a Quality Review during the 2006-07 school year. Most of these Reviews
will follow the three-day format used in the Spring 2006 pilot. Most Empowerment Schools will follow a more
extensive (approximately 5-day) review process to be piloted during the 2006-07 school year.
Progress Report Consequences and Impact of Quality Review
The consequences that flow from schools' Progress Report grades and Quality Review scores are described in
detail in Attachment D. In summary, these consequences are as follows:
Schools receiving an overall grade of "A" and a Quality Score of "Well-Developed" or "Proficient" will receive
financial rewards and automatically become empowerment illustration sites for other schools seeking to
emulate their success.
Schools receiving an overall grade of "D" or "F" will be subject to school improvement measures and target
setting and, if no progress is made over time, possible leadership change, restructuring, or closure. The same is
true for schools receiving a "C" for three years in a row. Decisions among these outcomes will be based in part
In summary, an Empowerment School is accountable for receiving an overall grade of A or B, or for improving
from a C within three years. In order to avoid negative consequences, an Empowerment School is accountable
each year for performing better than 15% of all NYC public schools during the recent past. Over the course of
the four-year agreement term, schools must outperform the bottom 45% of those schools for at least one year.
The consequences described apply to all New York City schools.
- Whether the school's Progress Report grade is an F, D, or C (for three consecutive years).
- The school's Quality Review score.
- Whether the school's grade or Quality Score has improved or worsened recently.
Academic Accountability Resources
As part of the DOE's new accountability system, all schools will have a robust set of diagnostic assessment
tools that will enable them, over the entire course of the school year, to identify students' strengths and
weaknesses on the literacy and math skills and sub-skills that are part of the state standards. These tools will
enable teachers to more effectively differentiate and target instruction and improve progress and outcomes and
enable principals to identify teacher professional development needs.
Starting this September for Empowerment Schools (and starting in September 2007 for all other schools),
schools must implement one of three options for periodic assessments:
The available options will ensure that periodic assessments and the associated diagnostic tools:
- A set of three (HS) or five (grades 3-8) assessments annually. This standard set of assessments will align
with NY state learning standards and with the literacy (including writing) and math curriculum and
scope and sequence in use in the greatest number of DOE schools5; or
- A customized version of the standard system that adjusts the assessments to follow the curriculum and
sequence in use in a particular school; or
- A school-designed system of assessments (including potentially qualitative or portfolio assessments)
with a capacity comparable to the standard DOE system to differentiate and compare different students'
literacy and math skills and sub-skills and to trace progress throughout the school year6.
As part of the 2006-07 pilot of the new standard DOE assessment system, extensive training and support will
be available to aid principals and teachers in the use of assessments to enhance learning, and in customizing
and designing assessments to match the school's needs. Additional training will be provided in the use of all
data, including that generated by the Progress Reports and Quality Reviews, to individualize and improve
learning for all children.
- Provide all teachers, students, and parents with frequent, reliable information on student capacities and
progress on important literacy and math skills, and
- Align with each school's curriculum and instructional program.
With respect to non-academic performance in the areas of safety, student enrollment, fiscal integrity, or
compliance, Empowerment Schools will be measured annually, although the DOE reserves the right to
intervene frequently if necessary. At the end of each year, the DOE will review information relating to the
A material deviation in any of these areas will result in immediate consequences.
- Maintaining a safe learning environment and complying with all safety-related regulations
- Complying with all DOE enrollment, transfer and discharge policies
- Spending consistent with your school's allocated budget
- Complying with procurement laws and procedures
- Reporting data timely and accurately
- Complying with all other applicable laws, contracts, and regulations
- Fulfilling requirements related to the evaluation and provision of services to students with disabilities
and the identification and provision of instructional programming to ELL students.
Students in grades K-2 will continue as before to receive qualitative ECLAS and DIBELS assessments.
Administration of these assessments will be made less time consuming through the use of handheld
devices to record student answers.
To exercise this option, schools complete a one-page application that describes their alternative
assessment system and demonstrates that the alternative is as rigorous as the DOE's basic system and
aligns with state standards. Applications may be submitted to the Chief Accountability Officer. The DOE
is committed to supporting schools to facilitate both the customization and design-your-own options, and
is already working with groups of schools toward that end.