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making the grade
Making the grade
July 1, 2015
After rule changes, fewer students held back, sent to summer school
The number of students headed to summer classes has fallen to its lowest level in six years and the share of students held back a grade has declined by half.
November 26, 2012
For first time in years, high schools net more A's and fewer F's
For the first time in years, more New York City high schools are making the grade, at least according to one of the Department of Education's assessments. After four years during which the city doled out fewer and fewer top letter grades to high schools on annual progress reports, the department announced today that more high schools received A's and B's — and fewer had received failing grades. In 2008, the percentage of high schools that received top letter grades topped out at 83 percent. In subsequent years, as the city sought to close many of its large comprehensive high schools and replace them with smaller ones, that rate has fallen — to 75 percent in 2009, 70 percent in 2010, and 65 percent in 2011. This year, the rate of top-graded schools bounced back up to 72 percent. The proportion of schools that received failing grades fell from 12 percent to 7 percent. The reversal comes at a time when city and state officials have said that high schools are, by and large, not preparing students for college. In fact, the city even added new data points to the progress reports designed to reward schools that produce college-ready graduates, and penalize those that do not. The boost in high schools' city grades also comes at a time when more middle and elementary schools got grades so low that they face closure.
October 1, 2012
More schools met threshold for closure on new progress reports
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky briefed reporters on the new progress report cards this morning. Almost twice as many elementary and middle schools are eligible for closure under the Department of Education’s longstanding rules this year, according to the schools’ 2011-2012 progress reports. Since 2007, the city has given schools a letter grade each year based largely on calculations of their students’ test scores. Schools that receive an F, D, or three consecutive C’s or worse can be closed. Last year, 120 schools fell into that category, and the department ultimately moved to close 10 of them. But this year, 217 schools received those grades, suggesting that this year’s closure toll could be greater than in the past. The most dramatic change was a jump in schools receiving their third straight grade of C or below — from just five last year to 114 this year. The striking jump is a late-onset effect of the state’s 2010 decision to raise the proficiency bar on its state tests. In 2009, just two schools had received F’s and 84 percent earned A’s. But that year, most schools saw their test scores fall, and nearly 70 percent of schools saw their progress report grades drop, too. The progress reports released today were the third since the change. Caught in the metrics were some popular schools, such as Central Park East I and the Earth School in Manhattan, as well as 16 of Staten Island’s 52 elementary and middle schools.
October 24, 2011
Fewer top scores on more robust high school progress reports
Nearly half of students who started ninth grade in 2006 are enrolled in college right now, but only a quarter of them were ready for it, city data shows. The numbers were revealed today when the Department of Education released high school progress reports for last year. For the first time, the reports include data about each school's course offerings and college enrollment rate, although that information will not be factored into schools’ grades until next year. Schools that receive a grade of F or D, or get three C grades in a row, could face closure. This year, 41 schools received D's or F's, an increase over last year, while fewer high schools received A grades than in any year since the progress reports were created in 2007. Speaking to reporters this morning, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief academic officer, attributed those changes to a tougher set of requirements around student performance on state tests, credit accumulation, and documentation for student discharges. "I think we're tightening things up and we've gotten a more precise result," he said.
February 2, 2011
New grades for schools for students on brink of dropping out
For the first time, the city is assigning grades to a set of schools for students who have fallen behind and are well into their late-teens, but still hope to get their high school diplomas. All but two of these 23 schools, known as young adult borough centers, were opened during the early years of former Chancellor Joel Klein's tenure, when the city was searching for ways to help overage, under-credited students graduate. With afternoon and evening classes and more individualized attention, the centers are the city's last effort to give students diplomas before they age out of the school system. They're also among the last schools in the city to get progress reports — the signature element of the city's accountability system — which are created annually for elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as transfer schools. Because YABCs only admit students older than 17 who have enough credits to be a high school sophomore, their progress reports are slightly different from the average high school's.
December 20, 2010
Union requests formal investigation of data reports' accuracy
The city teachers union today formally asked the comptroller and special commissioner of investigation to examine the accuracy of the Department of Education's teacher ratings. The move comes after an ongoing back-and-forth between the union and the city over how city officials ensure the accuracy of the data that determine the ratings. Yesterday, the union called a press conference to share stories of teachers who discovered that their data reports rate their effectiveness based on students and subjects they had never taught. The feud over the ratings began in October, when city officials announced that they intended to release the teacher rankings to reporters. Union officials began collecting examples of errors on the reports, and then sued to block the release, arguing that the reports were too riddled with inaccurate information to be released. Teachers union President Michael Mulgrew said Sunday that his staff has documented at least 200 cases in which teachers' reports include errors. In its court filings, the union gave nearly 20 examples of reports, with teachers' names redacted, that the union claims reflect errors. But city officials countered today in a letter to Mulgrew that because there were no names attached to the examples the union cited, they have been unable to verify the letters. The letter, signed by Deputy Chancellors Shael Polakow-Suransky and John White, asked the union to share the details of those cases.
November 3, 2010
More F's and fewer A's mark new high school progress reports
For the second year in a row, the city has awarded fewer top progress report grades to high schools. Nearly 70 percent of high schools received A's or B's on this year's reports, which are being released today, down from about 75 percent last year and 83 percent in 2008. And more schools will have to endure a year of having the letter "F" branded on their report cards. Last year, the city gave only one F, but this year nine schools got that grade, and another 23 received D's. Schools that receive a grade of F or D, or get three C's in a row, are at risk for closure. The city has indicated that it might try to close more schools this year than in past years. This year's high school grades were more stable than those for elementary and middle schools, which were released last month. Elementary and middle school reports are based almost entire on state reading and math scores, and lower scores statewide caused grades to fall this year at about 70 percent of schools.
September 30, 2010
Most schools' grades drop as city releases report cards
The percentage of elementary and middle schools to get A's on their city-issued report cards fell this year from 84 to 25 percent — a drop precipitated by more students failing the exams and the city grading schools on a curve. Of the city's 1,140 elementary and middle schools, 35 percent (396 schools) received B's, 35 (398 schools) got C's, 4 percent (49 schools) got D's and 1 percent (8 schools) got F's. More schools scored low enough to get failing grades, but their final marks were buoyed by city officials' decision to limit the amount by which a school's grade could fall this year. About 70 percent of schools saw their grades drop this year. Roughly 400 had their grades fall by one letter and about 340 dropped by two letter grades. Only 22 schools went up at least one letter grade. Last year, students' inflated scores on the state exams led 84 percent of schools to get A's, 13 percent to get B's, and two percent got C's. Only two schools got F's. This year, as a result of the city's limit on how far scores could fall, schools that got A's in 2009 could not receive a grade lower than a C. A "B" school last year couldn't be worse than a "D" this year.
June 16, 2010
A tale of two Bronx schools: similar scores but different ratings
Two elementary schools in the South Bronx, P.S. 161 and P.S. 277, are half a mile apart. They are both mid-sized, high-poverty elementary schools serving mostly Hispanic students. Last school year, both schools had similar percentages of their students passing state exams in math, reading, and science. But under the city's progress report card grading system, P.S. 161 was ranked in the top fifth of schools, and P.S. 277 was ranked in the bottom fifth. Why? The reasons are highlighted in a new report whose authors examined each school in-depth. Visiting P.S. 277, the report's co-author Clara Hemphill found engaged students and energetic teachers. But its well-rounded curriculum — which teaches skills that are part of state standards but not tested on standardized exams — isn't weighted heavily in the city's report card accounting. The school also has a high poverty rate and lots of homeless kids, but the progress report system doesn't count those students when determining whether the school serves a challenging population.
January 29, 2010
City schools to be graded on a curve for next year's report cards
Many of the city elementary and middle schools who received A's on last year's report cards are likely to see their grades drop under a new scoring system for next year, Department of Education officials told principals today. Next year, only the top-scoring 25 percent of elementary and middle schools will receive A's, with just under a third of schools each getting B's and C's. A tenth of schools will be handed D's, and 5 percent will receive failing grades, according to the plan outlined today by the city's accountability chief Shael Polakow-Suransky. (More than 80 percent of elementary and middle schools took home A's on their progress reports for last school year.) The change comes as part of the first step of a gradual recalibration of the way schools are rated in the city's progress reports system and is also a by-product of the wider state effort to overhaul tests given to New York's third through eighth graders.
November 16, 2009
75 percent of high schools given A's and B's on progress reports
Debuting the latest round of progress reports for the city's high schools, the Department of Education awarded 75 percent of schools A's and B's, a slight decrease from last year. That number reflects a rise in the percentage of high schools that were given A grades this year, and a decrease in the percentage with B's. Of the more than 300 high schools that were given grades this year, 45 percent received A's and 30 percent were given B's. In 2008, 40 percent of high schools were given A's and 43 percent were given B's. Following criticism that the overwhelming number of high marks given to the city's elementary and middle schools over the summer rendered the report cards meaningless, DOE officials said grades for the high schools would be more evenly distributed.
October 30, 2009
High school report cards won't be covered in "A's," officials say
Department of Education officials are tamping down expectations before next month's release of the annual high school report cards. Testifying at a hearing before the City Council's Education Committee, the DOE's chief accountability officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said today that the reports will not show the preponderance of A's that dominated the elementary and middle school reports released in September. "You're not going to see the big changes in the high school level that you saw at the elementary level," Suransky said. "We didn't see dramatic gains in the same way." That could be a good thing for the department, which saw its main accountability measure widely criticized when it announced that 84 percent of elementary-and middle-schools had earned an A.
September 2, 2009
Principals use progress reports as playbook to plan school year
Sample progress report Principals around the city are celebrating their top grades on the city's annual school report cards today, and many say the system helped them plan and execute the progress that drove the slew of high scores. They can do that because the report card grades rise with test score gains — and they also provide an intricate breakdown of exactly what elements brought the overall grade up or down. Rowena Penn-Jackson, principal of P.S. 230 in the Bronx, realized that the school needed to place greater emphasis on teaching reading comprehension of non-fiction and poetry. Several principals at high-achieving schools said the reports showed them the school needed to devote more resources to English language learners. Survey data nudged Democracy Prep Charter School's Seth Andrew and Amber Charter School's Vasthi Acosta to modify their methods of communicating effectively with parents. Hellenic Classical Charter School principal Christina Tettonis instituted more professional development sessions to train teachers to use test scores to personalize instruction for individual students.
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