School report card

Local high schools given good grades


Most local high schools were given A’s and B’s on their 2009-2010 progress reports, with only DeWitt Clinton High School and Bronx Theater High School receiving a C.

David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, HS 141; Bronx High School of Science; Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy; High School of American Studies at Lehman College; and The Marie Curie School for Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions all received A’s.

Schools that received B’s include: The New School for Leadership and Journalism, Bronx School of Law and Finance and IN-Tech Academy, HS 368. However, IN-Tech got an F in the performance category, which indicates that the school has not been successful in graduating students.

John F. Kennedy High School did not receive a grade because the Department of Education is looking into possible discrepancies in school data, according to spokesman Matthew Mittenthal.

The grades, which purport to measure how schools are doing by comparing them to other, similar schools, were released last week by the DOE. Schools were graded in three categories: school environment, based on surveys taken by parents, students and teachers; student performance, based on graduation rates; and student progress, which measured credit accumulation and Regent’s test scores.

In Riverdale, Kingsbridge and Marble Hill, there were standouts on both ends of the spectrum. After receiving a B last year, Bronx Theater High School fell to a C and received an F for student progress, which indicates that students are not doing well on Regent’s or getting enough credits to graduate. DeWitt Clinton High School, which got a D last year, received a C.

Marble Hill High School for International Studies stood out for a different reason. It was one of only five in New York City to receive more than 100 points on its Progress Report. The school received A’s in every category, plus 12 additional points for “exceptional graduation rates” among students with disabilities and English Language Learners, as well as for improving the grades of struggling students, according to the DOE.

But some criticized the recent Progress Reports as being unreliable. This year, the DOE raised the minimum score schools needed to get certain grades, causing many Progress Report grades across the City to drop.

In response to the school’s C, Bronx Theater High School Principal Deborah Effinger said the school will launch a “Renaissance Academy” in February for 28 juniors and seniors who have fallen behind. The selected students will get instruction from the school’s best teachers in smaller class sizes and for longer periods.

But she also pointed out discrepancies in the grading system.

“If they hadn’t changed the cut scores we would have gotten a B. We’ve always gotten a B,” Ms. Effinger said of her school’s C.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of the nonprofit Class Size Matters, noted that scores are based on only one year of state test score data. The small sample size leads to great variations in data from year-to-year and can cause big changes in school’s grades, she said.

“They keep on changing the formula every year in response to criticism,” she said. “It’s never going to be a fair and accurate evaluation.”

Elementary and middle school progress reports were released in October.