A debate is brewing over in the community section about how the Department of Education assigns progress report grades to high schools.

On Wednesday, Teachers College professor and regular GothamSchools contributor Aaron Pallas critiqued the DOE’s methodology for producing the high school grades, which were released earlier this week. Pallas writes:

Three-quarters of a school’s score comes from a school’s location in relation to a group of 40 peer schools. The idea of comparing a school to peer schools is to create an “apples to apples” comparison. … But it only works if the right criteria are used to determine a school’s peer schools.

Today, the DOE’s chief accountability officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, responds with a defense of how the reports are made and what they measure. He writes:

The student characteristics most predictive of high school success — as measured by ability to earn credits, pass Regents, and graduate — are students’ incoming proficiency levels and special education and over-age status. Our peer index controls for these factors.