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2010-11-18 / Top Stories

How’s Your Child’s School Doing? Ask Education Dept.

By Dara Mormile

Individual reports, like the one above, publicly show each school’s performance rating. With recent news of Public School 114 in danger of closing, parents of children in other community schools may be wondering: “Is my child’s school next?”

Since 2007, the Department of Education has been using a detailed letter grading system to rate schools based on three academic areas: environment, performance and progress. Nearly a decade ago annual school reports were submitted, then quality reviews were submitted when district superintendents would tour schools and use citywide test grades to assess student performance.

“Obviously, there were always measures of some kind to offer a general performance review,” District 18 Superintendent Beverly Wilkins said. “But this system was developed to better evaluate student achievement and it’s a more tailored means of breaking down what needs to be done to improve schools in our districts.”

Even though principals were always able to determine how well students were performing generally through test scores and classroom data, letter grading offers administration a means of better concentrating on specific areas where their school needs improvement.

“If a principal sees that the school is failing where environment is concerned, he or she can start to take measures or make changes needed to improve in that department,” said Wilkins.

Wilkins said principals who notice a decline in their school’s performance should consider shifting funds to different programs, think innovatively about how to turn their school around and some may even want to hire different staff.

“When it comes to a school receiving a D or an F, administration needs to look closer at where they’re failing and what they’re lacking,” Wilkins added. “Our goal is to help keep the successful schools the way they are and help identify which schools need intervention.”

Most public and elementary schools in District 18 received a B or C on their 2009-2010 progress reports. The only school in District 18 which received an A was P.S./I.S. 66 at 845 East 96th Street. The school received high grades in each performance category and test scores were better than average.

Schools that received a B include, P.S. 115, P.S. 235, P.S. 208 and John Wilson I.S. 211. Among the schools receiving a C grade were: P.S. 272, P.S. 279, P.S. 276 and Bildersee I.S. 68. The only school which received D was P.S. 114, which is currently under fire for declining academics and student performance over the past few years.

Wilkins said most schools across the district are in good standing, even with a C grade. However, there is presently no study to show where District 18 ranks citywide within the Department of Education.

If you’d like to know the grade of your child’s school, log onto www.schools.nyc.gov, click on “Performance and Accountability” and search for a local school.

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