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Local News November 30, 2012  RSS feed


Some Scrutinized Schools Show Progress; Others Don’t
by Sam Goldman

Of the eight Queens high schools threatened with closure earlier this year, the Department of Education’s (DOE) 2011- 2012 Progress Reports, released on Monday, Nov. 26, showed that three schools improved upon last year’s grades, while five continued a downward trend.

The DOE noted in a Monday press release that citywide, seven percent more high schools earned A and B letter grades while four percent fewer schools received Ds and Fs compared to last year. The average score increased by 1.8 points, as over 5,000 more students received Regents diplomas.

This year, 34 percent of high schools, transfer high schools and Young Adult Borough Centers received grades of A, as opposed to 33 percent last year.

Ninety-five percent of schools either maintained the same grade or changed by one grade from 2011; 99 percent of schools were within two grades of their 2011 score.

How they are graded

Seventy-five percent of a school’s Progress Report score comes from comparing the school’s results to approximately 40 other city schools that serve similar student populations. The remaining 25 percent of a school’s score is based on a comparison with all schools citywide that serve the same grade levels.

High schools are graded based on scoring targets that have been constant since 2010.

The scores integrate five categories— student progress (measuring progress toward graduation requirements), student performance (how many students graduate within four to six years), school environment (measuring attendance and integrating data from annual surveys of teachers, students and parents), and college and career readiness, which measures how students prepare for post-high school education.

The college readiness grade is a new addition to the progress reports.

Schools also receive additional credit for progress made by students with disabilities, English Language Learners and minorities who entered high school struggling academically.

Each school’s Progress Report information can be found online. Visit http://schools.nyc.gov and search for your school’s website. Clicking the “Statistics & Budget” link on the lefthand navigation menu will lead to links for that school’s Progress Report as well as a short summary.

The DOE noted that Progress Reports are only one of several measures that the city uses to grade school performance. Quality Review grades (which are also shown on the Progress Reports but do not factor into the grades) consists of an observation conducted by an experienced educator, evaluating how well a school is organized to educate its students.

The annual School Survey, which does factor into the Progress Report, received responses from over 967,000 parents, students, and teachers about the academic expectations, communications, level of engagement, and degree of safety and respect at their schools.

Schools strive to stay alive

Last year, the DOE had planned to close 24 public schools—including eight high schools in Queens and one in Bushwick—and place them under a federal “turnaround” program.

Two of those schools, Bushwick Community and Grover Cleveland in Ridgewood, were removed from the list on April 26, but the Panel for Education Policy voted the next day to close the others—Newtown, Bryant, Long Island City, Flushing, John Adams, August Martin and Richmond Hill High Schools.

Under the program, the schools, were to close immediately and be reopened under new names and new administrators. Teachers would have to reapply for their jobs.

However, on June 29, an independent arbitrator found that the DOE violated the terms of its collective bargaining agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, and the plan was shelved.

Of the schools slated to close, Newtown, Bryant and Grover Cleveland improved on their grades from last year, while the other Queens schools faltered.

The good

Newtown High School received a Progress Report grade of B, and an overall score in the 38th percentile, a increase from a 20th percentile finish in 2011. The Elmhurst school received a C in student performance.

Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood also scored in the 38th percentile in 2012 (up from a 22nd percentile finish in 2011) and thus alsoreceivedaBscore.Theschool received an F grade in student performance.

Bryant High School on the Woodside/ Astoria border received a C grade, with a score in the 23rd percentile. The school scored in the 18th percentile last year. The report noted C grades in student progress and schoolenvironmentandaDgradein student performance.

The bad

Richmond Hill High School scored Fs in school environment and student performance, leading to an overall grade of C and a score in the 11th percentile. It scored in the 13th percentile in 2011 and in the 20th percentile two school years ago.

John Adams High School in Ozone Park scored in the 10th percentile, goodforaCgrade.The school was hit with D grades in student progress and school environment, and an F in student performance. This is the second straight year of decline for Adams; it scored in the 25th percentile last year and in the 38th percentile two years ago.

August Martin High School in Jamaica had a score in the fourth percentile, goodforaDgrade.The school scored Fs in student progress and student performance. The grade comes after grades in the 12th percentile in 2011 and the 15th percentile in 2010.

Long Island City high School scoredaCgrade,withFsinschool environment and student performance. Its 11th percentile finish is lower than its scores in 2011 (15th) and 2010 (25th).

Flushing High School scored a D grade, in the seventh percentile, after scoring in the eighth percentile in 2011 and in the 18th grade in 2010. The report cited F grades in student progress and student performance.

Bushwick Community High SchoolreceivedaCgradewitha score in the 35th percentile. Information on previous years’ scores was not disclosed in the reports. The school receivedaDincollegeandcareer readiness and an F in student performance.