In New York City Schools, Parents Report High Level of Satisfaction

Despite the fact that news about New York City schools continues to be plagued by negativity, a recent survey found that 95% of parents are satisfied with the quality of education offered to their children. And the survey offers no good news for those who oppose Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education reform measures. Overwhelmingly, parents credit him with improving the schools and cite him as one of the chief reasons for their high level of satisfaction – at least according to Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Ben Chapman of the New York Daily News writes that these findings were part of the Department of Education’s annual School Survey that polls parents, teachers and students for their opinion of the city’s education system. In response to the results, Walcott said the findings validate the reform program adopted by Bloomberg since he took over as mayor in 2002.

The annual report draws a lot of attention not only because of the opinions expressed therein, but because its outcomes count for 15% towards each school’s progress grades. The grades play an important role in determining funding, administrator pay and even in decisions over which schools could be subject to closure.

Educators, parents and kids issued generally favorable reviews of most components of the city’s public school system in the 2013 survey.

But teachers gave Chancellor Walcott and the Mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy poor marks, with only about half of teachers reporting satisfaction with Walcott and the panel.

The city’s rollout of tougher academic standards in 2013 and a new teacher evaluation system may have contributed to lower scores in those categories, agency officials said.

The surveys drew extra scrutiny in 2013 after a Daily News investigation uncovered evidence that principals at some schools tried to game the polls by influencing responses.

Officials investigated reports of cheating on the surveys at 28 schools but found no significant differences in survey responses at 27 of those schools compared with 2012.

The cheating allegations haven’t yet been fully resolved, and the responses from at least one school are being withheld while officials look at whether they were fraudulently obtained. The name of the school has not been released due to the fact that an investigation is ongoing.

Still, the high level of satisfaction among parents is welcome news on the heels of the release of a first set of Common Core Standards-based exams results taken by the city’s students. The scores plunged when compared to outcomes from last year, with fewer than 30% of students passing the reading portion of the exam and fewer than 35% passing the math portion.