Bay Ridge’s schools are widely known as some of the best in the city. Parents move here because our neighborhood is a great place to raise, and educate, kids. But today, we’re going to break down what actually makes a school “good”.

The data we use ends up steering the conversation we have about education in unintended ways… and not always for the better

Our education correspondent Erik Shell swings by the studio to talk about how we can keep tabs on school performance. Whether it comes from the city, the state, or the federal government, there is a lot of information out there. But the data we use ends up steering the conversation we have about education in unintended ways… and not always for the better.

We’ll talk about how we can move past traditional indicators of school performance, and deepen the discussion. This means focusing on data that centers social justice and individual paths to success. That can only happen by de-mythologizing traditional narratives about funding and performance.

Along the way we’ll talk about recent controversies in New York education, including the SHSAT and the Gifted and Talented program. By the end, we’ll show how to demand new kinds of data that will deepen the often shallow debate about school quality in Bay Ridge, and across the city.

Show Notes

Where can I find school data?

The School Performance Dashboard

The city’s performance dashboard is easy to use. Quickly narrow down the search to a single school at the top of the screen and click the drop-down menus to change the kind of data you’re looking at.

What does it show?

The NYC School Performance Dashboard shows traditional performance metrics. This mostly focuses on test results and attendance. It also summarizes the school’s “climate” in a framework score that highlights harder-to-measure data like how strong the bonds are within the school to the community around it. You can get more details about these harder-to-measure metrics in the School Quality Snapshot for each school.

Where does the data come from?

The NYC Department of Education

New York State Education at a Glance

What does it show?

The State’s data focuses on ethnicity and performance metrics broken down by race. You can also get detailed information about the number of students eligible for free lunch, how many have lived in transient housing in the past year, and other social justice metrics. Some schools also have data on teacher turnover, as well as the number of social workers, counselors, and teaching staff on site.

New York State’s website is harder to navigate. We recommend narrowing down the search by entering a school in the search bar on the upper-right.

Where does the data come from?

NY State Education Department

NYSED Information and Reporting Services

Mostly consisting of excel sheets, this data is valuable but very difficult to use.

What does it show?

This data clearinghouse provides more detailed information on vocational program performance (Career and Technical Education), as well as important data about harassment, bullying, and violence within all New York schools.

Where does the data come from?

NY State Education Department

Analyzing Fort Hamilton High School

In our episode, Erik broke down some city stats for Fort Hamilton High School, the “jewel in the crown of Bay Ridge.” Here are the sources we used:

The Narrow Political Debate

Early on in the show, we highlighted the often narrow range of educational policy positions offered by political candidates. Here are the archived links to each 2018 candidate’s education platform (if they had one).

  • Max Rose: More funding, Keep SHSAT, Vocational training, Lower Student Debt
  • Dan Donovan: More funding, Keep SHSAT, Vocational training, Lower Student Debt
  • Andrew Gounardes: More funding, Keep SHSAT, More Schools
  • Marty Golden: More funding, Keep SHSAT, More Schools, Raise Charter Cap
  • Mathylde Frontus: More funding, increased mental health services
  • Steve Saperstein*: More funding, Vocational training
  • Adam Baumel: Teacher autonomy, Eliminating high-stakes testing, DREAM act
  • Nicole Malliotakis**: More funding

Note: We’re not saying any of these candidates actually delivered on these issues, but instead are focusing on how similar their public statements were on the subject.

*Indicates the candidate’s campaign page refused public archiving of their material through

**Indicates the candidate’s campaign page doesn’t have an issues section at all.

Further Reading

As we mentioned at the top of the show, we highly recommend two sources for further understanding of school metrics and education policy…

You can also talk with Erik Shell, Radio Free Bay Ridge’s education correspondent. Dialog is important, whether you are a student, parent, teacher, or concerned neighbor. You can reach out on Twitter at @Erik_Shell or through email at [email protected].

This episode was recorded in our Bay Ridge studio with Daniel Hetteix and Erik Shell. Banner image is licensed through Adobe Stock © eurobanks. The music heard in this episode is “For Elevator Music” by EightBallAudio, and was licensed through AudioJungle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.