pulling rank

Ten top 10s from New York City’s 2014 test scores

East New York's J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin, due for closure, is one of two general education schools where no students scored proficient in math.

The city’s test scores in math and English inched up in 2014, but overall proficiency remained low after the second year of Common Core-aligned tests. But in a system with more than 1,200 elementary and middle schools, there are dozens of outliers on both sides of the performance spectrum.

Using the state’s “matched” student data, which excludes third grade and any other students who didn’t also take the exam in 2013,  we pulled out some of the highest and lowest scorers and what you need to know about why they’re there. (For unmatched city data, click here.)

Top city schools in reading proficiency:

1. Baccalaureate School for Global Education (95.77 percent)
2. The Anderson School (94.86)
3. Special Music School (94.44)
4. New Explorations into Science, Tech and Math High School (94.29)
5. I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School (92.23)
6. P.S. 748 Brooklyn School for Global Scholars (92.16)
7. P.S. 77 Lower Lab School (88.89)
8. Scholars’ Academy (86.60)
9. M.S. 255 Salk School of Science (84.57)
10. NYC Lab MS For Collaborative Studies (82.16)

There are few surprises among the city’s very top performing schools. All have selective admissions and few serve English language learners, students with disabilities or poor students. Schools shuffled between top-ranked spots, but all 10 were featured on last year’s “top 22” list that the Bloomberg administration celebrated on a publicity tour.

Top high-poverty city schools in reading proficiency (80-100 percent poverty):

1. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (75.47 percent)
2. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 2 (73.75)
3. Harlem Success Academy Charter School 5 (72.60)
4. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 1 (70.13)
5. Harlem Success Academy Charter School (61.95)
6. Magnet School of Math, Science & Design Tech (61.34)
7. All City Leadership Secondary School (60.77)
8. P.S. 124 Yung Wing (60.07)
9. P.S. 247, Brooklyn (57.64)
10. South Bronx Classical Charter School (57.14)

The city’s top-ranked list changes when poverty is taken into account. Half of the top 10 are charter schools, which admit students through a lottery, including four from the Success Academy network, which boasted English proficiency rates 35 points higher than the city average.

Other schools have drawn praise for their academic achievements for years. Mayor Bloomberg and former Chancellor Joel Klein both visited Brooklyn’s P.S. 172 on the first day of school in 2010 to tout its high test scores even in the face of higher standards.

Bottom city schools in reading proficiency (not including District 75 schools):

1. P.S. 194 Countee Cullen (0.0 percent)
2. Urban Assembly School for the Environment (0.0)
3. M.S. 203, Bronx (0.68)
4. Brownsville Collaborative Middle School (0.98)
5. Middle School for the Arts (1.22)
6. Harbor Heights (1.28)
7. P.S. 133 Fred R Moore (1.33)
8.Choir Academy of Harlem (1.61)
9. M.S. 584, Brooklyn (1.92)
10. P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth (2.16)

The statistics are grim for the worst-performing schools in the city, many of which have struggled for years and were targeted for aggressive intervention. P.S. 194 has been in danger of being closed since at least 2009 and was a target of low-level intervention again last year, as P.S. 133 in Harlem was in 2012. Some schools, like Choir Academy of Harlem and M.S. 203, will soon be closed due to low performance and the number of students taking tests at the schools is down by an average of 30 percent. One outlier is Harbor Heights, which serves English language learners and recent immigrants, many with no prior schooling.

Biggest positive change in reading proficiency rate:

1. East Village Community School (+21.67 percentage points)
2. P.S. 191 Mayflower (+19.23)
3. Academic Leadership Charter School (+19.09)
4. P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman (+18.18)
5. P.S. 108 Sal Abbracciamento (+17.78)
6. P.S. 94 David D. Porter (+15.97)
7. P.S. 198, Brooklyn (+15.94)
8. P.S. 183 Robert L. Stevenson (+14.61)
9. P.S. 79 Francis Lewis (+14.18)
10. Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice (+14.12)

Biggest negative change in reading proficiency rate:

1. P.S. 8 Shirlee Solomon (-24.00 percentage points)
2. P.S. 106, Queens (-16.92)
3. Archer Elementary School (-15.38)
4. P.S. 110 Florence Nightingale (-13.40)
5. P.S. 56 Lewis Latimer (-13.16)
6. P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep (-11.94)
7. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 2 (-11.25)
8. P.S. 169 Bay Terrace (-10.58)
9. South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and Arts (-10.39)
10. Luisa Pineiro Fuentes School of Science and Discovery (-10.19)

The biggest swings came in the early tested grades. Nineteen of the 20 schools with the biggest gains and losses were elementary schools. The lone middle school, Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, stood out for another reason: Its 14-point reading gains made it the only school from the Bronx to show such dramatic improvement.

Top city schools in math proficiency:

1. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (98.75 percent)
2. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 2 (98.75)
3. I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School (98.03)
4. Anderson School (97.62)
5. Baccalaureate School For Global Education (97.53)
6. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 1 (97.40)
7. Special Music School (96.43)
8. Harlem Success Academy Charter School 4 (95.56)
9. Harlem Success Academy Charter School 5 (94.52)
10. P.S. 748 Brooklyn School for Global Scholars (94.12)

Many of the city’s top performers in math are repeats from the list of top-performing reading schools.

Bottom city schools in math proficiency (not including District 75 schools):

1. J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin (0.00 percent)
2. M.S. 203, Bronx (0.00)
3. New Heights Middle School (0.98)
4. Middle School For The Arts (1.23)
5. Evergreen Middle School for Urban Exploration (1.36)
6. Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence (1.42)
7. J.H.S. 22 Jordan L. Mott (1.57)
8. J.H.S. 145 Arturo Toscanini (1.58)
9. Henry Street School for International Studies (1.75)
10. Knowledge and Power Prep Academy IV (1.83)

J.H.S. 166, M.S. 203, and Middle School for the Arts are being phased out for poor performance.

Top high-poverty city schools in math proficiency rate (80-100 percent poverty):

1. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (98.75 percent)
2. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 2 (98.75)
3. Bronx Success Academy Charter School 1 (97.40)
4. Harlem Success Academy Charter School 5 (94.52)
5. Harlem Success Academy Charter School (93.08)
6. South Bronx Classical Charter School (87.96)
7. P.S. 247, Brooklyn (84.39)
8. P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman (83.33)
9. P.S. 130 Hernando de Soto (82.03)
10. P.S. 124 Yung Wing (78.80)

The Success Academy schools, South Bronx Classical, P.S. 124 and P.S. 172 are repeats. P.S. 42, P.S. 130, and P.S. 124 are all in the Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhoods and at least 87 percent of their students are Asian, the ethnic group posting the city’s highest average test scores.

Biggest positive change in math proficiency rate:

1. Manhattan Charter School (+31.94 percentage points)
2. Democracy Prep Charter School (+27.91)
3. East Village Community School (+27.59)
4. Achievement First Endeavor Charter School (+26.56)
5. Central Queens Academy Charter School (+26.19)
6. KIPP NYC Washington Heights Academy Charter School (+25.54)
7. Harlem Link Charter School (+25.26)
8. Achievement First Brownsville Charter School (+24.55)
9. P.S. 32 Samuels Mills Sprole (+24.36)
10. Leadership Preparatory Brownsville Charter School (+24.19)

Biggest negative change in math proficiency rate:

1. P.S. 8 Shirlee Solomon (-19.20 percentage points)
2. P.S. 56 Lewis H Latimer (-15.79)
3. P.S. 29 (Queens) (-14.83)
4. Academy for Young Writers (-14.49)
5. I.S. 340, Brooklyn (-14.44)
6. Hyde Leadership Charter School – Brooklyn (-12.90)
7. P.S. 106, Queens (-12.30)
8. River East Elementary (-11.39)
9. Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School (-10.89)
10. P.S. 25 Eubie Blake School (-10.53)

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.”