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Highlights and lowlights from the 2010 school report cards

The Department of Education official charged with creating schools’ progress reports said today that parents should look beyond the capitalized, bold-faced grades on the reports and analyze the schools’ data.

“We want parents to get more involved at looking at all the information behind the overall grade,” said Deputy Chancellor for Accountability Shael Suransky. He also said that this year’s reports for elementary and middle schools are the “most accurate” the city has ever produced.

As parents and principals figure out what to make of the new ratings, here are some highlights culled from the data:

  • Because the DOE gave schools extra credit if they were especially successful with special education students and students who aren’t fluent in English, two schools scored over 100 points. Chancellor Klein visited one of the schools — P.S. 172 Beacon School in Sunset Park — as part of his back-to-school tour. The other school, P.S. 32 Belmont in the Bronx, received more extra credit points (15 in total) than any other school in the city. Last year, nearly 50 schools got more than 100 points.
  • Eight schools got F’s this year. They are: P.S. 186 Walter Damrosch School (Bronx), P.S. 811 Mickey Mantle School (Manhattan), Frederick Douglass Academy IV Secondary School (Brooklyn), Community Roots Charter School (Brooklyn), Academy of Collaborative Education (Manhattan), P.S. 332 Charles Houston (Brooklyn), School for Environmental Citizenship (Bronx), Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (Bronx). The city tried to close P.S. 332 last year, but was blocked by a union lawsuit. Four of the F schools have never received progress reports before — two because they are new (Community Roots and Academy of Collaborative Education) and two because they are in District 75 (P.S. 186 and P.S. 811) — putting them at a major disadvantage. Had they gotten reports last year, their grades would have been as inflated as other schools’ grades were. They would have been able to take advantage of this year’s safety net, which prevented schools from dropping more than two letter grades.
  • Twenty-two schools out of 1,140 saw their letter grades go up this year. Most of them — 12 in total — rose from a B to an A, five rose from a C to a B, two from a D to a C, and one from an F to a D. Two elementary schools stand out for jumping up multiple grades. Washington Heights Academy went from an F to a B this year and P.S. 28 Warren Prep Academy in Brooklyn went from a D to a B.
  • The city’s teachers union runs a K-8 charter school in Brooklyn that, last year, was in the bottom five percent of schools citywide. That trend has repeated itself again this year, potentially putting the school’s future in jeopardy. Last year, the school got a B and this year its score fell to a D. Though its “environment” score, which measures factors likes parent happiness with the school, is a middling C, the school’s numerical environment score makes it the fourth lowest among charter schools.

United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said the school has a new executive director, a new literacy program, and is creating small learning communities. The school is also trying to make teachers — particularly young teachers — feel that they’re part of a team that shares ideas. “We know exactly what the issues are. We’ll just keep moving forward,” Mulgrew said, adding that he does not believe the school’s authorizer will close it this year.

  • P.S. 65 Mother Hale Academy in the Bronx, the only elementary school on the list of 23 schools New York City plans to “turnaround” with federal grant money, got a C on its progress report. It got an F for environment, a D for performance, and a B for progress.
  • With 62 percent of its elementary and middle schools A-rated, District 26 in Queens had the highest percentage of A’s. District 2 in Manhattan had the highest percentage of B schools, at 52 percent, and district 18 in Brooklyn had the highest percentage of C schools at 58 percent. Brooklyn also had the highest percentage of D schools and the highest percentage of F schools belongs to District 75, which serves disabled students. The seven F-rated schools are spread out around the city, but none are in Queens.
  • While 25 percent of district schools got A’s on their report cards, 20 percent of charter schools achieved this rating. This is not unlike last year, when 84 percent of district schools got A’s and 73 percent of charters got A’s.