Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NYSED Commissioner King Issues College Readiness Data With Margins Of Error As Large As 27%

How does one account for the fact that if the data's coming from NYSED Commissioner John King's Department of Education, it's inevitably error-riddled?

Here's the latest King/NYSED data fiasco:

Local school superintendents are livid over what they say is massively inaccurate data about how many of their high school graduates go on to and graduate from college.

"We have a sense of how our students are doing and if they're succeeding in college," said South Orangetown schools Superintendent Ken Mitchell, immediate past president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents.

His district was reported as having 62 percent of 2012 high school graduates still in college in 2014 when he said the real number is 89 percent.

"The report is called 'Where are They Now?' We know where these kids are," he said. "This is a huge discrepancy. That's why we're so angry."

The data, presented to the state Board of Regents on Monday, was compiled from information provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that provides services to about 98 percent of the country's colleges and universities.

There were some inaccuracies, a state education official acknowledged.

Not all colleges and universities send data; some is incomplete; some students opt out of having their data included; and some schools did not provide information for students who don't receive financial aid, said Ken Wagner, deputy commissioner for curriculum, assessment and education technology.
He said the state felt that at most 3 percent of the numbers were inaccurate; the Clearinghouse's website says its number are 95 percent accurate. New York City, which contracted with the Clearinghouse privately, found a 3 percent error rate, Wagner said.

3% margin of error rate?

Here's a sampling of the MOE on SED's college readiness numbers in the Lower Hudson Valley:

Some discrepancies between the state's and local districts' data on students still in college

Pearl River HS: state: 82%, district-provided: 97%

Rye Neck HS: state: 80%, district-provided: 98%

Tappan Zee HS: state: 62%, district-provided: 89%

Valhalla HS: state: 79%,district-provided: 97%

 Carol Burris found a large MOE for her school as well:

In its zest to prove there is a crisis of college readiness, combined with a sweetheart infatuation with big data, NYSED produced reports (SIRS 601-604) to track New York high school graduates’ college enrollment. A few days before the public release of the reports, Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner sent a memo to districts. He explained that the department had combined school data with that of the National Student Clearinghouse to document which former high school students were enrolled in college and whether they persisted in their studies.

The memo informed superintendents that after the Regents discussed the data, it would be publicly released because it would be of interest to communities.

Our district data coordinator, who is my assistant principal, brought me the SIRS report. It claimed that only 80 percent of our students from the cohort of 2008 (Class of 2012) were enrolled in college.   As soon as I saw the number, I knew it was not correct. Ninety-eight percent of the 2012 Class told us they were going to college and gave us the name of the college they would attend. Might some have left after one semester, or changed their minds? It’s possible. But I found it difficult to believe that 18 percent had either not enrolled or quickly dropped out.

I asked my assistant principal to drill down to the names in the SIRS report. Not only were the names given, the report included which colleges and universities the students attended, their race, special education status, whether or not they received free or reduced priced lunch, and in many cases, their college major. This massive collection of data on graduates made my jaw drop.

And then I looked at the names. The 2012 salutatorian wasn’t on the list. I began a name by name comparison of the cohort against the report. The list did not include the names of many former students who were attending private and public colleges and universities, both in and out of state.

I began calling families to verify the report. There were 53 names that did not have a college listing.
 By 5 p.m. that day, I had spoken with 27 families. In 25 of the 27 cases, the students were thriving in their third year of college. They were at Brown, Bard, Cornell, Bentley, Notre Dame and Wesleyan. One student was in the Naval Academy (which smartly and ironically is one of the few schools that does not share data), and another at Tufts. One was at the University of Florida and another at the University of Charleston. What was even more bizarre was that some were in New York State public colleges governed by NYSED—SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stony Brook and Queensborough Community College. One student had already graduated from a technical school with a 3.84 GPA. Eighty percent had now become over 90 percent, and over the course of the next few days the percentage would continue to climb. This was no small error.

When calling, I asked parents whether they had “opted out” of having their son’s or daughter’s college enrollment data collected. They had not. One mom said: “Honestly, if I knew about it, I would have opted out. It is not John King’s[1] business where my son goes to college or what his major is.”

Burris notes that the college readiness numbers are not the first data errors to come from King or NYSED - there was also the APPR numbers for teacher evaluations.

There is something outrageous about a political functionary like King - an anti-public school/pro-charter functionary who is part of the movement to destroy public schools and promote charter schools - using data with such large margins of error to promote his anti-public school agenda.

But that's what's happening.

As I see this, he's either incompetent or deliberately using distorted and error-riddled data.

Which is it, Dr. King?

Are you incompetent or fraudulent?

It's one or the other.


  1. Back in September we were suppose to get a file from the DOE that listed each student attached to both our local and state ratings last year, and how they affected that rating. That document never came. All we got from the DOE was our score on a scale of 0-20, so no one has any idea if they were even rated on their own students, and certainly not if those ratings were accurate.

  2. Let Success Academy take over Biys and Girls HS without allowing them to remove students from the school. Then you will see the truth!

  3. John King should be fired for either his incompetence or arrested and thrown into prison for the fraudulence that is is time for the citizens of New York to reclaim our great state and for these monsters, including Tisch and Cuomo to be punished most severely for their repeated and daily crimes against good people...mothers and fathers, educators, and most importantly, our children and students...these are the people I am most thankful for sharing our state with...our citizens who stand up for democratic and human values...the nightmare of the likes of King, Tisch, and Cuomo will eventually come to an end...may they disappear from our lives sooner rather than later...Nassau and Queens counties always for our people...