Shrink-Wrapped Millions: Why Klein Won’t Help Johnny Read

With great fanfare the Department announced an 80 million dollar contract with IBM to create a database of pupil achievement information called ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System). Tweeds avers the system will “help schools analyze, report and manage information about student and school performance.”


Klein and Company have spent almost a year hawking a new School Progress Report, a system to rank schools and assign them grades. I was curious: how are the powers going to calculate the score that will determine the progress of schools.


Transparency is vital, if this system is going to be meaningful to parents, to teachers and supervisors it is essential that they understand the calculations. The following is the final section of a longer document explaining the new system:


Total Scores are calculated by weighting the values of the Proximity to City Horizon (x1) and Proximity to Peer Horizon (x2) measures for School Environment, Student Performance and Student Progress.  As these weightings indicate, Proximity to Peer Horizon counts twice as much as Proximity to City Horizon.  These weighted values are then averaged to create scores for School Environment, Student Performance and Student Progress.  The school’s Weighted Total Score (excluding additional credit for Exemplary Student Progress) is a weighted average of School Environment (weighted 15%), Student Performance (30%) and Student Progress (55%).

Additional recognition for schools obtaining Exemplary Student Progress as defined above is then added to the overall index using the following formula: .03 is added for each qualifying population as to which the percentage of students making exemplary gains is in the top 20% of all schools within the City and .015 is added for each qualifying population as to which the percentage of students as to which percentage of students making exemplary gains is in the top 40% of all schools in the City. A school’s Weighted Total Score Plus Additional Credit is determined by adding these additional potential points, if any are awarded, to the Weighted Total Score.


Nothing like a simple transparent system that will allow the parents, school staffs and the public to readily view and understand school progress.


If I remember correctly the School Progress Report system will cost 25 million dollars to develop and implement.


Now the Department is passing out another 80 million … sounds a little like Richard Bremer’s testimony before a congressional committee describing the necessity to ship over a hundred tons of hundred dollar bills, packaged in plastic shrink-wrap to Bagdad to pay whomever …


Do we really need an 80 million dollar system to tell us why Johnny can’t read?


I asked a few teachers why kids are struggling in school, clearly anecdotal and without the aid of Alavarez and Marsal Consultants:

“He’s a Blood and only stays in school to recruit.” 

“She takes care of younger brothers and sisters …”

“He works at night and can’t stay awake in class.”


Do you think the ARIS System will help these kids?


Now fair reader I have confidence in your ability, so, a little contest:

Given that the Department has 80 million bucks to spend: how would you spend it?

Never can tell – maybe the powers that be will reach down and snatch up you and your idea … although I wouldn’t quit my day job.


7 responses to “Shrink-Wrapped Millions: Why Klein Won’t Help Johnny Read

  1. They’re probably paying for it with monies from the eliminated arts programs($70 million).

    Like all computer projects at the DOE, this one will have major cost overruns and will not be completed on time with consultants becoming millionaires.

    By the way, aren’t they suppose to be consolidating their databases rather than increasing them?


  2. how about computers projects for kids?
    The greatest city in the world has one of the poorest curriculum support sites and the weakest professional development opportunities for teachers. check this out:

    They also depend upon outside groups like Teaching Matters for this.


  3. Let me start by stating that the current school report cards are close to useless and filled with erroneous data. Nonetheless, this new system is quite the boondoggle.

    I’m an administrator in a NYC school and recently sat through a four-hour meeting on the new school progress report. We spent most of the meeting scratching our heads and asking the DOE representatives to clarify what the scores meant and how they calculated them. None of us left the room fully understanding what they had done and how the final scores were constructed. There’s no way in hell anyone else is going to understand this if they can’t explain it to a room full of administrators over the course of several hours.


  4. Pingback: Should the Plutocrats at Tweed Who Endanger Our Children Continue to Run Our Schools? « Ed In The Apple

  5. In and of itself, the new database is a good idea. Where they go wrong, is in the ridiculous timetable that coincides with the beginning of what will be the most confusing start to the school year ever, their overdependence on the database, and their underestimation of what it will take to get all the data cleaned and to develop the skills and abilities for people to inupt data correctly.


  6. Pingback: Arbeit Mach Frei: Teaching in the World of the Accountability Police « Ed In The Apple

  7. You have a nice site here, always have great info for us. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely come back for more.


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