The New Marketplace: Notes on Data and Methodology

Analyzing a school system of 1.1 million students is enormously complicated, particularly when the landscape is shifting so quickly. A team of journalists and academics at the Center for New York City Affairs spent the last year and a half observing New York City's high schools in attempt to get a full picture of Chancellor Joel Klein's small school and high school choice reforms. Our analysis included hundreds of interviews and a careful examination of trends over the last decade using the New York State Education Department (NYSED) report card database as well as the New York City Department of Education's (DOE) school Progress Reports, graduation rate numbers, attendance numbers and ninth grade mix. Some items to note:

  • We used the most recent numbers publically available: Class of 2007 graduation data, SY 2007-08 Progress Report data and SY 2007-08 NYSED report card data. It is unfortunate that more recent numbers were not available, particularly with regard to the graduation rates.

  • The high schools analyzed include every school with a ninth grade class and a NYSED report card in SY 2007-08 or earlier.

  • To do an analysis of school size, we had to make decisions about what constituted a "small," "midsize" and "large" school. The DOE is currently creating small high schools with enrollment just above 400 students. We included any school up to 600 students, simply because many of the older "small" schools are that size or larger. Midsize schools are 601-1400 students; any school with more than 1,400 students was designated as large. We admit this was a somewhat arbitrary decision based on the character of the schools and our knowledge of the system.

  • We designated any school opened in SY 2002-03 or later as a Klein-era small school, but it should be noted that these include a number of schools planned before his time and, thus, are not included the DOE's official count of Klein's small schools.

  • The charts throughout this book were generated using a variety of databases with information culled from the schools at differing points in time often using different methods for gathering numbers. While there may appear to be inconsistencies, it's important to look at the chart notes to understand the timing and source of the information.

  • Last but not least, we used the DOE's "traditional" graduation rate calculation, which includes GED and IEP diplomas and excludes high needs special education students from the numbers. This calculation has been criticized by NYSED and others as being too generous. (The DOE is using a different method going forward.) We had to use this graduation rate because, unlike NYSED's more conservative calculation, the DOE numbers have remained constant over time and thus can be compared over the last decade.

We are happy to answer any technical questions you may have about this report. Please contact Kim Nauer at nauerk@newschool.edu.

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