Test scores in New York City continued their upward march this year, with small gains in average English and math scores — a cause for celebration among city officials.
Unlike last year’s scores, which came with an asterisk because of significant changes to the tests themselves, state officials said the latest round of scores show real progress. Still, most of the city’s students are still not proficient in English or math.
In the lists below, we take a closer look at which schools had the largest and smallest shares of students considered proficient on the two tests, meaning they scored 3 or 4. And we reveal which schools had the biggest positive or negative percentage changes in their scale scores over the previous year.
These lists are no doubt affected by outside factors — such as whether a school added or dropped grades in the past year, or whether they had a high percentage of students opting out of state tests.
A note on methodology: We used percentage change in average scale scores for the bottom four lists — rather than proficiency rates — in order to capture shifts that might not have pushed students above or below the proficiency threshold, but are still noteworthy. Due to schools with tied scores, we removed numerical rankings and just provided percentages.
For a more complete look at how all schools performed on the tests, check out our new database.
Top city schools in English proficiency
- The Academy for Excellence through the Arts (100 percent proficient)
- Special Music School (100)
- Success Academy Charter School – Bergen Beach (100)
- Baccalaureate School for Global Education (99.5)
- P.S. 77 Lower Lab School (99.4)
- New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math High School (97.2)
- P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (96.6)
- P.S. 334 The Anderson School (96.2)
- Professional Performing Arts High School (95.7)
- Success Academy Charter School – Crown Heights 1 (95)
Most schools on this list screen students for admission. Two (NEST+m and the Anderson School) are citywide gifted schools that serve students who score in the very highest percentiles of the gifted test. P.S. 77 Lower Lab School only serves gifted students and Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens screens students; some of the others require auditions. It’s worth noting that the Academy for Excellence Through the Arts (which also appears on the list of top schools in math proficiency) only serves students through third grade. While the Success Academy schools admit through a lottery, the two schools on this list have two percent or fewer English language learners — compared to 13.4 percent in schools citywide.
Bottom city schools in English proficiency
- Academy for New Americans (1.1 percent proficient)
- New Directions Secondary School (2.4)
- P.S. 150 Christopher (4.8)
- Essence School (5)
- Harbor Heights (5)
- J.H.S 145 Arturo Toscanini (5.1)
- P.S. 112 Bronxwood (5.5)
- Urban Science Academy (5.8)
- M.S. 584 – Brooklyn (7 percent)
- Fairmont Neighborhood School (7.3)
All of these schools serve high-need populations. The Academy for New Americans and Harbor Heights are both geared toward newly arrived immigrants, who may have had limited formal schooling in their home countries. Urban Science Academy and P.S. 112 Bronxwood are part of the city’s Renewal turnaround program. So were M.S. 584, Essence School and J.H.S. 145 Arturo Toscanini, all of which closed this year.
Top city schools in math proficiency
- The Academy for Excellence Through the Arts (100 percent proficient)
- Special Music School (100)
- Success Academy Charter School – Rosedale (100)
- Success Academy Charter School – Washington Heights (100)
- Success Academy Charter School – Crown Heights (99.3)
- Success Academy Charter School – Hell’s Kitchen (99.3)
- Baccalaureate School for Global Education (99.1)
- Success Academy – Bed Stuy 1 (99)
- P.S. 172 Beacon School of Excellence (98.8)
- Success Academy Charter School – Bed Stuy 2 (98.7)
Success Academy took six of the top 10 spots in math proficiency, just one fewer than last year. The charter network is known for its high test scores and CEO Eva Moskowitz recently held a press conference to contrast them with the city’s at large. While Success Academy admits students through a lottery, the Special Music School in Manhattan requires an audition and the Baccalaureate School for Global Education is screened.
Bottom city schools in math proficiency
- Digital Arts and Cinema Technology High School (0 percent)
- M.S. 584 – Brooklyn (0 percent)
- Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts (0 percent)
- Lyons Community School (.7 percent)
- New Directions Secondary School (1.2 percent)
- Opportunity Charter School (1.7 percent)
- The Hunts Point School (1.8 percent)
- East Fordham Academy For the Arts (2 percent)
- KAPPA IV (2.1 percent)
- Brownsville Collaborative Middle School (2.4 percent)
Many of these schools serve high-need students and have a history of low scores. Six schools on this list also appeared on last year’s, including Lyons Community School, which Chalkbeat wrote about as part of a series on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s track record on education. New Directions Secondary School is for students who have fallen behind in middle school. Opportunity Charter School serves a large percentage of students with disabilities; the city has pushed to close its middle school for poor performance. The Hunts Point School is one of the city’s Renewal schools, as was M.S. 584 before it closed.
Biggest positive percentage change in English scale scores
- P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente (5.1 percent)
- P.S. 110 – Queens (5.1 percent)
- Lucero Elementary School (5 percent)
- The Boerum Hill School for International Studies (4.9)
- Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists (4.9)
- School for Democracy and Leadership (4.5)
- P.S. 92 Mary McLeod Bethune (4.5)
- P.S. 213 New Lots (4.3)
- Brooklyn Environmental Exploration School (4.2)
- The 47 American Sign Language and English Lower School (4.2)
Many of the most improved schools have recently taken on curriculum changes or new approaches to discipline, according to educational plans filed with the city’s Department of Education. For example, District 1 was the recipient of a state grant to integrate schools, and that grant has been used to change instruction at Roberto Clemente to a more progressive model. Clemente, which serves largely Hispanic and poor students, is also a Renewal school. Meanwhile, School for Democracy and Leadership in Brooklyn, which has been known for suspending an outsize number of students, has turned to restorative discipline practices.
Biggest negative percentage change in English scale scores
- Institute for Collaborative Education (-6.9 percent)
- P.S. 5 Dr. Ronald McNair (-6.9)
- P.S. 132 The Conselyea School (-4.8)
- Cornerstone Academy for Social Action Middle School (-4.2)
- Family Life Academy Charter School II (-4)
- Success Academy – Union Square (-4)
- Hamilton Heights School (-3.8)
- P.S. 23 Carter G. Woodson (-3.7)
- Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem (-3.7)
- The Brooklyn New School P.S. 146 (-3.7)
P.S. 5 Dr. Ronald McNair in Brooklyn, which dropped nearly 7 percentage points, saw the biggest positive changes in English and math scale scores last year, when scores across the city spiked after dramatic changes were made to the state tests. That school and others on this list have high opt-out rates, which could have impacted their rankings.
Biggest positive percentage change in math scale scores
- P.S. 110 – Queens (10.7 percent)
- Frederick Douglass Academy II Secondary School (8.9)
- P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente (7.3)
- The Academy for Excellence Through the Arts (7.3)
- Lucero Elementary School (7.1)
- The Walton Avenue School (7)
- Dr. Jacqueline Peek-Davis School (6.8)
- P.S. 40 George W. Carver (6.3)
- River East Elementary (6.1)
- P.S. 30 Wilton (6)
This list contains an entirely new set of schools from last year. Several, including P.S. 110, Lucero Elementary School, and the Walton Avenue School, are fairly new and have been expanding. (Lucero and Walton Avenue share a school building.) The Walton Avenue School has taken a new approach to teaching math, with teachers who specialize exclusively in the subject.
Biggest negative percentage change in math scale scores
- M.S. 584 – Brooklyn (-8.6 percent)
- M.S. 35 (-6.6)
- Citizens of the World Charter School – Crown Heights (-6.5)
- P.S. 32 Belmont (-6.1)
- P.S. 241 Emma L Johnston (-5.7)
- P.S. 5 Ronald McNair (-5.6)
- Citizens of the World Charter School – Williamsburg (-5.4)
- Earth School (-5.4)
- M.S. 61 Dr. Gladstone Atwell (-5.3)
- P.S. 325 (-5.1)
The greatest decline on this list was at M.S. 584, a Renewal school that closed this year. Both of the city’s Citizens of the World Charter Schools, which opened in 2013 as part of network based in California, lost ground this year. Earth School in the East Village is another school with a high percentage of opt-outs, with a majority of students sitting out at least one of the tests.
This analysis was conducted by Chalkbeat’s Chris Hickerson, with research assistance from Chalkbeat New York.