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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.

The safety net may confuse parents hoping to use the grades to help them choose were to send their children. On a list of the city’s lowest-scoring schools, only two received F grades and the majority were awarded C’s, raising questions about what it means to be a “C” school this year.

For a handful of schools, the safety net was a saving grace. These schools’ scores in the three assessed categories — performance, environment, and progress — were so low that they would have earned D’s or F’s under normal conditions and could have motivated the city to close them. But because these schools got A’s on their progress reports last year, they couldn’t score lower than a C.

Ross Global Academy is one of these schools. The charter school, which opened in 2006, got an F in all three categories and the lowest overall score of all 1,140 schools. Its final grade this year is a C because in 2009, it was awarded an A.

Schools can face leadership changes or closure if they receive grades of D or F, or if they receive C’s three years running. A Department of Education spokesman said that the city would not change its criteria this year. Schools that would have received D’s or F’s, but whose grades were boosted to C’s, will only be considered for phase-out if they continue to receive low grades in future years.

15 Schools with Lowest Overall Scores

1.     Ross Global Academy Charter School: 0.1, overall grade C
2.     Brooklyn Collegiate: 4.4, overall grade D
3.     P.S. 118 Lorraine Hansberry: 5.1, overall grade C
4.     P.S. 55 Henry Boehm: 5.7, overall grade C
5.     P.S. 107: 6.3 overall grade D
6.     Cornerstone Academy for Social Action: 7.6, overall grade F
7.     Urban Assembly Academy for Civic Engagement: 7.9, overall grade C
8.     School for Environmental Citizenship (K-3): 8.5, overall grade F
9.     P.S. 115 Alexander Humboldt: 9.3, overall grade C
10.  School of Diplomacy: 10.1, overall grade C
11.  Harlem Day Charter School: 10.2, overall grade C
12.  P.S. 193 Alfred Kennedy: 10.9, overall grade C
13.  Institute for Collaborative Education: 11.0, overall grade C
14.  Mott Hall IV: 11.1, overall grade C
15.  Sisulu-Walker Charter School: 11.2, overall grade C