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.

The raw scores for high schools progress reports come from schools’ credit accumulation rates, graduation rates, and the percentage of students who pass the Regents exams.

Speaking at Williamsburg Preparatory School in Brooklyn this morning, Chancellor Joel Klein said that the “multiple measures” that go into the high school grades inevitably make the reports more stable and accurate than reports for elementary and middle schools. Elementary and middle school reports are mainly based on students’ scores on state math and English tests.

Klein said that in the last two years, high schools’ average score has increased from 55.4 points to 66.7. He attributed the 10 point increase to a marked rise in credit accumulation.

That ten point gain has not translated to a signficant rise in the percentage of A and B schools because of the increase in cut scores. This year, schools needed 70 points to get an A, whereas last year they needed 64.2. To get a B this year, schools had to score above 54 points, while the cutoff was 43.5 last year.

This year, a total of 58 schools were given C’s, 21 saw D’s, and only one high school, Peace and Diversity Academy in the Bronx, received an F.

Highlights:

  • Though DOE officials said John F. Kennedy High School might have its report card withheld because of discrepancies between the school’s data and the data on its progress report, the school was given a grade after all. It received a C.
  • Herbert H. Lehman High School was not given a grade because the school’s principal, Janet Saraceno, is under investigation for grade tampering. Though many schools did not receive grades because they are new and have yet to graduate a class or because they’re being closed, Lehman was the only school to have its grade withheld because of an investigation.
  • Many of the schools that received poor grades this year could make the state’s list of high schools that are failing and are candidates to be taken over by charter school operators. Jamaica High School got a C last year and a D this year. Boys and Girls High School got a B last year and a D this year. Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School got a B last year and a D this year. Sheepshead Bay High School got a B last year and a C this year.
  • Manhattan Theater Lab High School made one of the biggest jumps, going from an F on its progress report in 2008 to a B on this year’s report.
  • Though 14 schools were given F grades in the performance category, only one high school was given an F overall.
  • Of the city’s specialized schools, Brooklyn Technical School was given the lowest overall score. With 70.1 points, it squeaked by the cutoff for an A, largely because its grade in the environment category was a D.