High achievers

Is your school a ‘Reward’ school? Here’s the list of schools honored for their high scores

PHOTO: Flickr
Brooklyn Tech High School was one of this year's "Reward" schools.

More than 60 New York City schools have earned “Reward” status from the state education department for their high test scores or for making strides towards their academic goals.

Schools on the list had to land in the top 20 percent of schools statewide based on their math and English state test scores during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, or be among the top 10 percent of schools based on score growth in 2016-17. High schools must have graduation rates above 80 percent to meet the high-achievement mark, or above 60 percent to qualify as “high progress.”

The schools also had to have at least 95 percent of all student groups take the state tests — a challenge for schools where many families boycotted the exams — and could not have unacceptably large gaps” in achievement between students that belong to historically underperforming groups, such as low-income students, and their peers.

In the past, some Reward schools received federal grants, but that has ended under the new federal education law.

“It’s truly impressive that so many of this year’s Reward Schools were able to maintain the designation for three years in a row,” Commissioner Elia said. “All of these schools serve as models to others in the state to inspire them to achieve a high level of accomplishment and improvement.”

Many of the schools are familiar names on top-performer lists.

Several have selective admissions, allowing them to choose students based on their prior grades or test scores. A few — including Stuyvesant High School and Staten Island Technical High School — are “specialized schools” that admit students solely based on their scores on an entrance exam, which critics say has the effect of excluding many students of color.

This is the last year of the Reward designation, which was a feature of the previous federal education law. Under the new law, New York plans to identify “Recognition” schools, based on “high achievement or rapid improvement,” according to state officials. The exact method for identifying those schools is still being worked out.

Here is this year’s Reward schools:

New York City (64 school)

  • Academy of Finance and Enterprise
  • All City Leadership Secondary School
  • Baccalaureate School for Global Education
  • Ballet Tech/NYC PS for Dance
  • Baruch College Campus High School
  • Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn College Academy
  • Brooklyn School of Inquiry
  • Brooklyn Tech High School
  • East Side Elementary – PS 267
  • East Side Middle School
  • Eleanor Roosevelt High School
  • Fiorello H LaGuardia High School
  • High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • Leon M Goldstein High School for the Sciences
  • Manhattan Center-Science and Math
  • Manhattan Village Academy
  • Millennium Brooklyn High School
  • Millennium High School
  • MS 243 Center School
  • MS 255 Salk School of Science
  • MS 358
  • New Explorations Science, Technology and Math
  • NYC Lab High School for Collaborative Studies
  • NYC Museum School
  • PS 101 – The Verrazano
  • PS 11 Purvis J Behan
  • PS 110 Florence Nightingale
  • PS 130 Hernando De Soto
  • PS 134
  • PS 150
  • PS 163 Alfred E Smith
  • PS 173 Fresh Meadows
  • PS 184 Shuang Wen
  • PS 195 Manhattan Beach
  • PS 198 Isador E Ida Straus
  • PS 199 Jessie Isador Straus
  • PS 2 Alfred Zimberg
  • PS 212 Midtown West
  • PS 213 The Carl Ullman School
  • PS 247
  • PS 249 – The Caton
  • PS 25 Eubie Blake School
  • PS 26 Jesse Owens
  • PS 26 Rufus King
  • PS 28 – The Warren Prep Academy
  • PS 35 The Clove Valley School
  • PS 39 Henry Bristow
  • PS 397 Foster-Laurie
  • PS 41 Greenwich Village
  • PS 42 Benjamin Altman
  • PS 77 Lower Lab School
  • PS 89
  • PS 96
  • Queens College School for Math, Science and Technology
  • Queens Gateway to Health Science Secondary School
  • Queens High School Science at York College
  • Special Music School
  • Staten Island Tech High School
  • Stuyvesant High School
  • Tag Young Scholars
  • The Academy of Talented Scholars
  • Townsend Harris High School

Rest of the state (73 schools)

  • Akron High School
  • Amherst Central High School
  • Ardsley High School
  • Bayport-Blue Point High School
  • Bethpage Senior High School
  • Briarcliff High School
  • Brighton High School
  • Bronxville Elementary School
  • Caledonia-Mumford High School
  • Clarkstown South Senior High School
  • Clinton Senior High School
  • Colonial School
  • Columbia High School
  • Croton-Harmon High School
  • Dobbs Ferry High School
  • Earl L Vandermeulen High School
  • East Aurora High School
  • Eastchester Senior High School
  • Fayetteville-Manlius Senior High School
  • Garden City High School
  • Great Neck South High School
  • Haldane High School
  • Half Hollow Hills High School East
  • Half Hollow Hills High School West
  • Harborfields High School
  • Harrison High School
  • Hastings High School
  • Herricks High School
  • Honeoye Falls-Lima Senior High School
  • Iroquois Senior High School
  • Irvington High School
  • Jamesville-Dewitt High School
  • Jericho Senior High School
  • John F Kennedy High School
  • Keene Central School
  • Lansing High School
  • Locust Valley High School
  • Lynbrook Senior High School
  • Maine-Endwell Senior High School
  • Manhasset Secondary School
  • Maple Hill High School
  • Mt Sinai High School
  • Murray Avenue School
  • Nanuet Senior High School
  • New Hartford Senior High School
  • North Shore Senior High School
  • Owego Free Academy
  • Pelham Memorial High School
  • Penfield Senior High School
  • Pittsford-Mendon High School
  • Plainview-Old Bethpage/JFK High School
  • Pleasantville High School
  • Rebecca Turner Elementary School
  • Rhinebeck Senior High School
  • Ripley Central School
  • Roslyn High School
  • Rush-Henrietta Senior High School
  • Rye Neck Senior High School
  • Sayville High School
  • Shaker High School
  • Skaneateles Senior High School
  • Smithtown High School-West
  • Somers Senior High School
  • South Side High School
  • Spackenkill High School
  • Syosset Senior High School
  • Todd Elementary School
  • Vestal Senior High School
  • W Tresper Clarke High School
  • Walter Panas High School
  • Wantagh Senior High School
  • Williamsville East High School
  • Yorktown High School

Charter schools (18 schools)

  • Academy of The City Charter School
  • Achievement First Apollo Charter
  • Achievement First Bushwick Charter
  • Beginning with Children Charter II
  • Bronx Charter School Better Learning
  • Hellenic Classical Charter School
  • Icahn Charter School 2
  • Icahn Charter School 3
  • Icahn Charter School 5
  • Icahn Charter School 6
  • Imagine Me Leadership Charter School
  • Rochdale Early Advantage Charter School
  • South Bronx Classical Charter School
  • Success Academy Charter School – Bronx 2
  • Success Academy Charter School – Cobble Hill
  • Success Academy Charter School – Harlem 2
  • Success Academy Charter School – Harlem 4
  • Success Academy Charter School – Williamsburg

#NationalSchoolWalkout

Carranza discourages student participation in Friday’s gun violence walkout — which could come with consequences

PHOTO: Courtesy photo/P.S. 261
Students at P.S. 261 in Brooklyn walked out of class in March to honor the victims of the Parkland, Fla. shooting and call for stricter gun control laws.

Last month, 100,000 students streamed out of city classrooms to protest gun violence, demonstrations condoned by the mayor and education department officials.

Similar but scaled-down protests are being planned for Friday, but with a major difference — students are more likely to face consequences for walking out of their classes this time.

For the March 14 walkout, held on the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that killed 17, city education department officials laid out clear rules meant to facilitate student participation. Anyone who left school for the scheduled protest but returned immediately afterward would not be marked absent.

This week, students who are not in school will be marked absent, according to the education department.

At his first town hall meeting with students, Chancellor Richard Carranza implored them not to walk out of class this week.

“I supported it in March,” he said. “This one — I don’t think it’s the same thing.”

Instead, Carranza said, students should focus on having conversations about the issue inside their schools. “You don’t have to be out of school all day to make your voices known. You’ve already made your voices known.”

The department’s revised approach comes as activists planning the day of action worry that focus on gun control policy is diminishing as the Parkland shooting recedes into the past. That shooting has inspired a sustained protest movement led largely by students, but other topics have pushed it out of headlines in recent weeks.

Indeed, advocates are expecting a smaller turnout this time around, with about a dozen New York City schools registered on the national organizing page — including Bard High School Early College Queens and Stuyvesant High School.

One of the biggest demonstrations is expected to be an afternoon rally at Washington Square park, but other schools are opting for a day of action within their own buildings — and some students say they are prioritizing other ways of making a difference.

“We will be hosting a lunch and learn and creating kindness cards,” Urban Assembly School for Criminal Justice junior Robina Afzal said in an email. “We don’t feel the walkouts are most effective. Instead we can stay in school and create a change.”

PHOTO: Courtesy photo/P.S. 261
Fifth-grade students at P.S. 261 in Brooklyn are planning to walk out of school on April 20, marking the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting. They will head to borough hall and deliver letters to their local U.S. representative calling for stricter gun control laws.

At M.S. 51 in Brooklyn, students will take part in a day of assemblies where they will write letters to elected officials to demand action on issues that are important to young people.

“We want to balance our walkout and take real action that might influence policy-makers, rather than making another powerful public statement,” according to a press release sent by the middle school students there.

P.S. 261 in Brooklyn is one of the few elementary schools expected to participate on Friday. The fifth grade students have assigned themselves organizing tasks, with separate working groups dedicated to poster-making, writing original freedom songs, and even a media team. They plan to march to Borough Hall, where students will stand in a circle, sing, and chant to draw attention to young lives lost to gun violence every day across the United States.

“I think we should do it outside of the school because more people can see us walking out, because this is very important,” said Bayan Clark, a fifth-grader who is helping to organize the event. “Kids get shot every single day and it’s not just in school. It’s also outside.”

Principal Jackie Allen said such social actions are woven into the school’s teaching and learning.

When Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, students wore black armbands in solidarity with protesters who drew attention to racial profiling and bias. When President Trump proposed an immigration ban on majority-Muslim countries, they marched around their school and created posters to signal that everyone is welcome at P.S. 261.

Ever since the Parkland shooting, students have been tackling issues around gun violence, writing letters to local elected representatives and making connections to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We try to make sure the curriculum is relevant,” Allen said. “What’s happening in the world, it does make our way into the classrooms and kids want to talk about it.”

“We want to reflect democratic values,” she said. “We want kids to take social action and develop social awareness.”

Future of Schools

What it could mean for Indianapolis Public Schools if Ferebee takes a new job

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
Lews Ferebee

The revelation that Superintendent Lewis Ferebee was a finalist for the top job in the Los Angeles school district will have broad implications at a critical moment for Indianapolis Public Schools — even though he decided not to pursue the job.

Although Ferebee has withdrawn his name from contention in Los Angeles, he still could be an option for other districts. As U.S. News and World Report’s Lauren Camera reported earlier this month, about a dozen cities are on the hunt for new leaders, including large districts such as Houston and smaller districts such as Washington, D.C.

Five years into his tenure as superintendent of Indiana’s largest district, Ferebee’s agenda has been ambitious, potentially making him a desirable candidate for other school districts. He has spearheaded a radical new approach that is transforming the city’s schools by creating innovation schools, which are considered part of the district but managed by charter or nonprofit operators.

In Indianapolis, Ferebee has faced many of the same issues that urban districts across the country are grappling with, such as declining enrollment, pressure to improve academic results, and severe budget crunches.

But while he may have an itch to move on from Indianapolis, his administration is in the midst of closing nearly half of the district’s high schools, and the district is pursuing plans to ask voters for a dramatic boost in school funding.

Here’s how all those changes could be altered by the news that Ferebee is at least weighing other job opportunities.

It’s not a surprise that he was considering a new job.

Urban superintendents don’t often stay for long — the average tenure is just over three years, according to the Council of Great City Schools — so it’s not surprising that a relatively young superintendent who is drawing national attention might be interested in other jobs.

For superintendents to move up in their careers, hopping to new cities is fairly typical.

A native of South Carolina, Ferebee, 43, spent most of his career in North Carolina before moving in 2013 to take the helm in Indianapolis. He has few ties to the city, and critics and supporters alike have long recognized that Indianapolis is likely just one rung on his career ladder.

For school districts where leaders are interested in offering a portfolio of school options, Ferebee’s track record in Indianapolis — and his increasing national prominence — could be particularly appealing.

In 2016, Ferebee was profiled in Education Week as a leader to learn from, and last year, he was chosen as a fellow by The Broad Academy, a leadership development program supported charter advocate and philanthropist Eli Broad.

But his tenure in Indianapolis hasn’t gone perfectly.

Ferebee’s administration has also had some significant stumbles that cast doubt on whether he would be ready for a larger district. Last year, he announced plans to appeal to voters to increase local taxes and school funding. In the face of pushback, however, the district first reduced its request and then suspended the campaign. Now, leaders are hoping that the Indy Chamber will be able to help them craft a plan that will win voter support.

If he left, it might put Indy in a bind — temporarily.

If Ferebee took another job, it would put Indianapolis leaders in a tough position. The school board would need to find his replacement at the same time the district is facing a host of pressing issues, including high school closings, a school board election, and a campaign to convince taxpayers to increase local school funding.

And he could take some of his top deputies with him, as he did when he came to Indianapolis, leaving the district short-handed at a particularly challenging time.

The current board has largely been on the same page with Ferebee when it comes to the most controversial initiatives in the district, such as creating innovation schools and closing high schools. Board members would likely choose a candidate who would sustain those policies.

But a lot of his most controversial changes could stay in place.

A new superintendent would have huge sway over the district’s future direction. But many of the changes Ferebee has led would be difficult to unwind. Innovation schools, for example, have contracts that last several years, and many of them are also authorized as charter schools, so the district would not immediately be able to back away from the innovation strategy.

Plus, innovation schools have strong support from other players in Indianapolis, such as lawmakers and The Mind Trust, a nonprofit that led the push for the hybrid model.

It is also unlikely that the district would change course on its plan to close high schools because the new superintendent would almost certainly take the helm after the painful process of closing schools was already complete.

It would make the November election of the school board more important.

Three of the seven school board seats are up for election in November, and it is likely that the newly elected board would choose Ferebee’s replacement. It’s not yet clear who is running and how strong the competition might be, but the outcome would be especially important if Ferebee leaves.

If he does take another job, it could be an opportunity for critics of his administration. In recent elections, supporters of Ferebee have dominated. But there is a nascent opposition movement that could be influential in the fall election.

Even though he is staying, the honeymoon is over.

Even with Ferebee withdrawing his name from consideration, the revelation that he was interested in the job in Los Angeles could have a ripple effect. It raises questions about how long he plans to stay in Indianapolis and whether he is applying for other positions.

The new uncertainty about Ferebee’s commitment to Indianapolis comes at a particularly tough moment. In the face of a budget deficit of about $26 million, the administration could soon impose cuts across the district. Earlier this month, the district offered $20,000 buyouts to teachers who retire, and Ferebee has said they are considering other cuts, such as hiring freezes and furloughs for administrators. Those cutbacks will be extra painful if school staff and parents lose faith in the administration.

It also could have broad implications for the campaign to raise more money for schools. After district leaders initially fumbled plans to ask voters for additional money, they are planning to put a referendum on the ballot in November. For that measure to succeed, they must convince community members to vote in favor of raising their own taxes, a difficult sell that will also be made harder if the superintendent loses trust from the community.