2015 state tests

Eight top 10s from New York City’s 2015 test scores

PHOTO: Alan Petersime

The city’s state test scores continued to inch up in 2015, which meant city officials were celebrating Wednesday. Overall proficiency rates are still hovering around 30 percent in English and 35 percent in math, but in a system with more than 1,200 elementary and middle schools, there are dozens of outliers.

[Read more about this year’s test score results, and the latest opt-out tallies, here.]

We combined district and charter data to come up with the schools at the top and bottom of the proficiency spectrum, and also looked at what schools saw the most change by comparing each school’s average scale score from 2014 and 2015. (We chose to look at scale scores, rather than proficiency rates, when looking for big changes this year in order to capture shifts that might not have pushed students across the threshold between levels 2 and 3, but are still notable.)

Top city schools in English proficiency:

1. Baccalaureate School for Global Education (98.1 percent proficient)
2. The Anderson School (96.3)
3. I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School (95.2)
4. New Explorations into Science, Tech and Math High School (93.6)
5. M.S. 255 Salk School of Science (91.2)
6. Scholars’ Academy (91.0)
7. P.S. 77 Lower Lab School (90.9)
8. East Side Middle School (88.5)
9. The 30th Avenue School (88.0)
10. Special Music School (88.0)

There aren’t many surprises on this list. All have selective admissions processes, and some are city-wide gifted and talented schools. Few serve many English language learners or students with disabilities and all have been top performers in prior years.

Bottom city schools in English proficiency:

1. The School for the Urban Environment (0 percent proficient)
2. Harbor Heights (0)
3. Choir Academy of Harlem (0)
4. Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts (0)
5. I.S. 219 New Venture School (1.1)
6. Fairmont Neighborhood School (1.5)
7. Essence School (1.6)
8. P.S. 19 Roberto Clemente (2.1)
9. I.S. 206 Ann Mersereau (2.4)
10. M.S. 596 Peace Academy (2.4)

The statistics are grim for the worst-performing schools in the city, many of which have struggled for years. Four of the schools are part of the city’s “Renewal” turnaround program — Wadleigh, New Venture, Essence, and Peace Academy — and five tested fewer than 50 students last year. Choir Academy of Harlem will close in 2016 due to low performance, and P.S. 19 Roberto Clemente was phased out this past spring. One outlier is Harbor Heights, which serves many English language learners and recent immigrants, many with no prior schooling.

Top city schools in math proficiency:

1. Baccalaureate School For Global Education (100 percent)
2. Success Academy Charter School – Bed-Stuy 1 (99.3)
3. Success Academy Charter School – Williamsburg (98.7)
4. P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (98.3)
5. Success Academy Charter School – Upper West (98.2)
6. The Anderson School (97.9)
7. I.S. 187 The Christa McAuliffe School (97.5)
8. Success Academy Charter School – Harlem 4 (96.4)
9. New Explorations into Science, Tech and Math High School (96.4)
10. Success Academy Charter School – Bronx 2 (96.3)

Half of the city’s top performers in math are repeats from the list of top-performing reading schools. The other half are Success Academy charter schools, which are known for their high test scores.

Bottom city schools in math proficiency:

1. Choir Academy of Harlem (0.0 percent)
2. Life Science Secondary School (0.0)
3. Academy for Social Action: A College Board School (0.0)
4. Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts (0.0)
5. General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science (0.0)
6. Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence (0.8)
7. East Fordham Academy for the Arts (0.9)
8. I.S. 219 New Venture School (1.0)
9. New Directions Secondary School (1.1)
10. Lyons Community School (1.2)

Three of these are Renewal schools: Wadleigh, New Venture, and Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence. General D. Chappie James was phased out this spring, as was Academy for Social Action, and Choir Academy is set to close.

Biggest positive change in English scores:

1. P.S. 971 School of Math, Science and Healthy Living (+9.9 percent)
2. P.S. 261 Philip Livingston (+6.6%)
3. P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier (+5.9%)
4. Brownsville Collaborative Middle School (+5.8%)
4. Teaching Firms of America – Professional Preparatory Charter School (+5.8%)
6. P.S. 125 Ralph Bunche (+5.4%)
6. Imagine Me Leadership Charter School (+5.4%)
8. P.S. 190 Sheffield (+5.3%)
8. East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School (+5.3%)
10. P.S. 452 in Manhattan (+5.1%)

P.S. 971 opened in 2010 in a new building in Sunset Park, and P.S. 261 is a popular elementary school in Brooklyn’s District 15. Brownsville Collaborative was cited by the Daily News earlier this year for having only one of 106 students pass state reading exams in 2014, while the school-review site Insideschools called Ralph Bunche a “school to watch” a few months ago, noting its improvement under Principal Reginald Higgins.

Biggest negative change in English scores:

1. Riverdale Avenue Community School (-6.8%)
2. P.S. 106 in Queens (-6.7%)
3. The Fresh Creek School (-5.2%)
4. P.S. 40 George W. Carver (-5.1%)
5. General D. Chappie James Elementary School of Science (-4.9%)
6. P.S. 51 Bronx New School (-4.5%)
7. Urban Science Academy (-4%)
7. Great Oaks Charter School (-4%)
9. P.S. 54 Samuel C. Barnes (-3.9%)
9. STEM Institute of Manhattan (-3.9%)

Riverdale Avenue Community School in Brownsville saw a high percentage of students opt out of the tests this year. P.S. 106 became better known as the “School of No” this year after the New York Post ran a series of stories about its often-absent principal (who was since removed). Urban Science Academy is in the city’s Renewal program.

Biggest positive change in math scores:

1. School of Math, Science, and Healthy Living (+8.1%)
2. P.S. 212 in the Bronx (+6.3%)
2. Imagine Me Leadership Charter School (+6.3%)
4. Academy of the City Charter School (+6.2%)
5. Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School (+6.1%)
6. P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott (+5.6%)
7. P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier (+4.8%)
8. Unity Prep Charter School (+4.7%)
9. Medgar Evers College Preparatory School (+4.6%)
9. P.S. 330 in Queens (+4.6%)

Medgar Evers College Preparatory is run by Michael Wiltshire, the principal also doing the high-profile job of improving the troubled Boys and Girls High School. P.S. 215 has phased out, and P.S. 330 is new and growing.

Biggest negative change in math scores:

1. STEM Institute of Manhattan (-7.7%)
2. General D. Chappie James Middle School of Science (-7.3%)
3. Harlem Link Charter School (-6.4%)
4. I.S. M286 Renaissance Leadership Academy (-5.8%)
5. Explore Charter School (-5%)
6. The UFT Charter School (-4.5%)
6. Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy: A College Board School (-4.5%)
8. Lyons Community School (-4.4%)
9. Explore Empower Charter School (-4.3%)
10. Invictus Preparatory Charter School (-4.2%)
10. P.S. 51 Bronx New School (-4.2%)

The UFT Charter School closed its elementary and middle schools this spring, while Lyons, Chappie, and the Bronx’s P.S. 51 are repeats from the reading list.

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.”