By Nikki Dowling
Local elementary and middle school progress report grades dropped dramatically this year, with many schools receiving Bs and Cs from the Department of Education.
The David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141 received a D; down from last year’s B, and was one of many sharp declines from grades received last year. Changes in state test standards were expected to result in such drops. However, the DOE announced that schools could not drop more than two letter grades this year.
Schools like MS/HS 141 that got Ds, could face consequences such as changes in leadership and a “comprehensive review,” according to the DOE.
PS 24 got a C overall and got an F in the school environment category, which is comprised of surveys taken by parents, students and teachers, as well as attendance rates. In 2008-2009 the school got an overall grade of A.
“You usually don’t see an F,” Marvin Shelton, Community Education Council president for District 10, said.
Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, who has been critical of the report cards, said since the environment grade is based on what students, parents and teachers think, it is the most accurate category.
“I think that’s a useful indication there’s something really wrong at that school,” Ms. Haimson said of the F. “It’s the only thing, if I were a parent, I would look at … Any school that got an F on its environment is probably a school where there are real problems.”
Donna Connelly, who took over as principal of PS 24 at the beginning of last year, did not return calls for comment.
Other local schools ran into trouble too. PS 81 and PS 7 in Kingsbridge received Cs, although they got As for the 2008-2009 school year. PS 207 also received a C.
“It is a reality check to ensure that we are continuing to try to move children forward and getting them prepared for a career,” PS 81 principal Melodie Mashel said, adding that her school responded to the report by implementing academic intervention services for struggling students.
“We knew it so it wasn’t surprising,” Frank Patterson, PS 7’s new principal, said. “It just confirms the need for the intervention programs and it confirms a specific direction to move in.”