number crunching

The good, the bad, & the puzzling within the progress reports

Behind the letter grade that each city high school received this week is a mess of data.

Progress report scores take into account everything from how many ninth-graders earned six credits in academic courses to the number of overage students to the relative performance of students with special needs. The city’s spreadsheet containing the underlying data for the progress reports runs to more than 200 columns.

We sorted and re-sorted the spreadsheet to look at the city’s measures of school quality in different ways. Here are some of the most interesting things we found.

The top five highest-scoring schools include three schools for new immigrants (marked with asterisks):

Brooklyn International High School (Brooklyn)*
Manhattan Village Academy (Manhattan)
It Takes A Village Academy (Brooklyn)*
Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design (Brooklyn)
Manhattan Bridges High School (Manhattan)*

The top five lowest-scoring schools:

Manhattan Theatre Lab High School (Manhattan)
High School of Graphic Communication Arts (Manhattan)
Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School (Bronx)
Herbert H. Lehman High School (Bronx)
Freedom Academy High School (Brooklyn)

Seven schools didn’t get progress reports after their data raised red flags with department officials:

Theatre Arts Production Company (Bronx)
PULSE (Bronx)
School for International Studies (Brooklyn)
Bronx Aerospace (Bronx)
Bushwick School for Social Justice (Brooklyn)
Foundations Academy (Brooklyn)
FDNY School for Fire & Life Safety (Brooklyn)

Other schools where academic and management improprieties have been reported did get progress reports:

Science Skills High School (Brooklyn) got an A
A. Philip Randolph High School (Manhattan) got a C
Lehman High School (Bronx) got an F
Washington Irving High School (Manhattan) got an F
Independence High School (Manhattan) got a C
Williamsburg Charter High School (Brooklyn) got a C

Three schools benefited from the new rule that prevented schools with high graduation rates from scoring lower than a C:

Bronx Prep Charter School (Bronx)
Frederick Douglass Academy (Manhattan)
East New York Family Academy (Brooklyn)

Seventy schools sent less than a third of their graduates to college. Of those, seven got A’s:

Fordham High School of the Arts (Bronx)
High School for Violin and Dance (Bronx)
Millennium Art Academy (Bronx)
International Community High School (Bronx)
El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice (Brooklyn)
International High School at Prospect Heights (Brooklyn)
W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School (Brooklyn)

At four schools, all selective, not a single graduate would need remediation at CUNY colleges:

Staten Island Technical High School
Townsend Harris High School
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Queens High School for Sciences at York College

And at six schools, not a single graduate met CUNY’s basic standards:

Performance Conservatory High School (Bronx) is closing
Juan Morel Campos Secondary School (Brooklyn), which got a C
Bronxwood Preparatory Academy (Bronx), which got a C
Opportunity Charter School (Manhattan), which did not receive a grade
Arts and Media Preparatory Academy (Brooklyn), which got a B
High School of Violin and Dance (Bronx), which got an A

Six of the 11 schools that began federally funded “transformation” last year saw no change. Two saw their grades fall:

Queens Vocational and Technical High School, which went from an A to a B
Flushing High School, which went from a C to a D

And one saw a spectacular climb:

School for Global Studies, which went from an F to a B

Two of the schools we followed in “The Big Fix” series boosted their grades:

William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School went from a D to a B.
Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School rose from a C to a B.

And one school had no chance:

Christopher Columbus High School got no grade because it has started phasing out.

Seven charter high schools got progress report grades:

New Heights Charter School, which got a A for the second year in a row
International Leadership Charter School, which dropped from an A to C
Renaissance Charter School, which got a B in its first year with a report
Harlem Village Academy, which got a B in its first year with a report
John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy, which fell from an A to a B
Williamsburg Charter High School, which improved from a D to a C
Bronx Prep, which got a C for the second year in a row

Ninety-two schools did not get progress report grades because they are less than four years old or are phasing out.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at cbauman@chalkbeat.org.

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”