Chancellor Richard Carranza’s second-in-command is poised to get a top job in Georgia after claiming bogus achievements in NYC, critics say.
Cheryl Watson-Harris, Carranza’s first deputy chancellor, has been named the finalist to become superintendent of DeKalb County schools’ 99,000 students, which includes suburban Atlanta.
Her cover letter in recently applying to Sarasota, Fla., Watson Harris boasted:
“Under the leadership of my team the city has seen record gains in proficiency rates in both ELA and math.”
Fred Smith, a former DOE test analyst, said the gains were neither record-breaking nor impressive.
“It’s an overstatement,” Smith told The Post. “For her not to know this is a spurious achievement on her part, to claim credit for that, it’s ridiculous.”
Carranza — who has written a letter of recommendation for Watson-Harris, named her his No. 2 in July 2018. The only state exams in math and English for grades 3 to 8 administered during Watson-Harris’ tenure as first deputy chancellor were given in the spring of 2019.
Data showed only 47.4 percent of students scored at proficient levels in English and 45.6 percent in math. Those scores rose by .7 percent in English and 2.9 percent in math.
They were not “record gains.” In 2018, citywide scores rose by 4.9 percent in math and 6.1 percent in English Those gains occurred after the state reduced the testing from three days to two.
In 2016, average scores increased by 1.2 percent in math and 7.6 percent in ELA after the state gave students unlimited time to complete the exams.
State officials have repeatedly warned that comparisons over time are unreliable due to multiple changes.
But the DOE trumpeted its progress.
“This administration has invested in leaders and policies that get results — our ELA and math scores have risen steadily year after year, including under Cheryl’s leadership,” said spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.
In her resume, Watson-Harris also claims credit for numerous DOE initiatives and achievements, including an “overhaul of the Turn Around Program,” a reference to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Renewal program for struggling schools.
De Blasio ended the program in February 2019. After four years and nearly $800 million in extra costs, the results were disappointing, he conceded.
Watson-Harris oversaw a less-defined new strategy of “putting the right investments in place to quickly identify and respond to students’ and schools’ needs, with a focus on equity,” Barbot said.
More than 140 elementary and middle schools had at least one grade where more than 90 percent of kids flunked their state exams in 2019, The Post found.
City scores on the more reliable National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP — given to a sampling of 4th and 8th graders every two years in math and English — have remained flat and even dropped in 4th-grade math.
Watson-Harris’ NYC annual salary is $242,102. The current DeKalb County superintendent was promoted in April and received a pay increase to $350,000, but plans to retire at the end of June.
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