No wonder Richard Organisciak did not want to participate in the Newsweek survey. In a report out this week of the top 1,500 high schools in the nation, Newsweek ranks New Rochelle 1,239 out of 1,500 down from 914 last year. In 2003 it was ranked 351.
Read the report here http://www.newsweek.com/id/201160/?q=2009/rank/1201
[EDITOR'S NOTE: In March, at a board meeting held at Ward School, Superintendent Richard Organisciak made a recommendation to the school board that the District refuse to respond to Newsweek's request for data and otherwise not participate in the Newsweek survey.
On March 3rd:
Organisciak talking about Newsweek rankings. Board votes to reject participation in the rankings because they are simultaneously too subjective and too data driven. Not sure how that works in their mind but they all start to complain about Jay Matthews from Newsweek. As I spent the past year or so working for Newsweek I think I will make a few calls and see what they have to say about this. It is really quite bizarre -- they are wearing it like a badge of honor that they are not going to allow themselves to be evaluated by Newsweek. Funny how they had no complaints about BusinessWeek which used standardized test scores as a key driver of their analysis which came out good for New Rochelle.
On March 10th:
At Mr. Organisciak's request, the school board recently voted to decline to participate in a national Newsweek survey of high schools in the United States on the grounds that the analysis was unfair to New Rochelle because it compared New Rochelle High School with schools with far less diverse student populations. This argument is often made by the district that it is unfair to compare New Rochelle to school districts like Rye, Scarsdale and Irvington. The argument is made that New Rochelle should be compared to schools like White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon. Yet, in the budget the school district does exactly what it often complains about -- the cost per pupil in New Rochelle is compared against every other district in Westchester and Putnam County including Rye, Scarsdale and Irvington in order to "prove" that New Rochelle cost per pupil is among the lowest in the county (presumable matched by White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon in that order). Isn't the District trying to have it both ways here -- make comparisons to all school districts when it is seen as to the district's advantage and railing against the exact same comparisons when it is seen as to the district's disadvantage? If you are going to include a comprehensive analysis like this for spending per pupil why not include a similarly comprehensive analysis New York State Report Card data like standardized test scores and violent incidents so voters can evaluate what sort of "bang for the buck" they are getting for the $1 billion spent by the District over the past 4 years.
On April 28:
Recently the school board voted to approve a recommendation from the Superintendent Richard Organisciak to refuse to participate in an annual Newsweek survey of high schools because they "did not want to be define by one number". They never refused Newsweek before but last year New Rochelle dropped significantly so suddenly they find the survey unfair (part of the USN&WR survey uses the same methodology as Newsweek).
I did, in fact, contact Jay Mathews about New Rochelle's decision to refuse to participate. He informed me a few things that I will add here a little later (I have to run out for my physical therapy right now]. He also offered to speak directly with Organisciak and I did send Organisciak an email about this but never head back. More later.