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

Hello Again

Debora Scheffel chosen by acclamation to fill State Board of Ed vacancy

State Board of Education member Debora Scheffel at a campaign event in 2016. (Photo by Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)

A Republican vacancy committee unanimously selected Debora Scheffel to fill the opening left by Pam Mazanec on the State Board of Education.

Mazanec, a staunch defender of parental rights and school choice who represented the 4th Congressional District, resigned at the end of January to focus on her other obligations. Scheffel previously represented the 6th Congressional District on the board but lost that seat in 2016 to Democrat Rebecca McClellan.

McClellan’s narrow victory gave control of the board to Democrats for the first time in 46 years. Scheffel, who serves as dean of education at Colorado Christian University, moved to Douglas County, and ran unsuccessfully for school board there in 2017.

Scheffel’s selection does not change the balance of power on the state board because she replaces another Republican. Scheffel faced no opposition at the vacancy committee meeting, which took place Saturday in Limon.

Scheffel has said she wants to continue Mazanec’s work on behalf of rural schools and in support of parent and student choice, as well as work to protect student data privacy, a cause she previously championed on the board.

The district takes in all of the eastern Plains, as well as the cities of Longmont, Greeley, and Castle Rock.

Future of Schools

Indianapolis struggles to balance how much money schools need with what people will pay

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Lewis Ferebee

Without a massive influx of cash from taxpayers, Indianapolis’ largest school district could be in dire financial straits. But the fate of the referendums asking voters for more money is in limbo.

Even as the Indianapolis Public Schools board revealed plans to reduce how much money it is seeking from voters, the administration portrayed the district’s financial future as precarious. During a board discussion Thursday, officials underscored how critical it would be for the tax increase to pass. It’s unclear, however, whether the district will get the extra cash it needs to avoid making painful cuts.

Critics have suggested the request — $936 million over eight years — is too high and that the district has not offered enough detail on how the money raised would be spent. With only tepid support for the tax plan, district leaders appear poised to reduce the amount they are seeking. That move could win over new allies, but it could also undercut their efforts to gain support.

Next year, the administration is expecting spending could outpace income by more than $45 million. The plan for filling that gap hinges on raising more than $46 million from a referendum that will go before voters in May.

Without that extra money, Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said, the district would have to burn through its savings or make vast cuts that could include freezing teacher pay, cutting school budgets, and reducing transportation.

The district would need to begin making cuts immediately, said board member Kelly Bentley. “It’s just going to get worse the next year, and the next year,” she added.

The district’s future will look brighter if leaders are able to win public support for more funding, although it’s no longer clear how much money they will ask for. The original plan, which was approved by the board in December, includes two referendums to raise property taxes. One would ask voters to give the district as much as $92 million more per year for eight years for operating expenses such as teacher pay. Another measure, which the district is not expected to change, would pay for $200 million in improvements to buildings.

Ferebee said the amount he originally proposed was based on what the district needs rather than what would be politically feasible. In the face of community feedback, however, the district is crafting a plan that would have a lower price tag. Next, the district will need to explain what services will be cut to keep down costs, he said.

“I anticipate people will want to know, ‘what are the tradeoffs?’ ” Ferebee said. “We owe it to the community to provide that explanation, and we will.”

Indiana districts have pursued more than 160 property tax referendums since 2008, when state lawmakers created the current school funding system. About 60 percent of those referendums have been successful, according to data from Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

Stephen Hiller, who has been studying referendums with the center for nearly a decade, said that it’s likely that many districts have had to reconcile how much money they would ideally want with how much taxpayers might be willing to pay. But that conversation likely happens before a referendum is announced and approved by the board.

“I think IPS has it a little more difficult here that it’s happening in the open after they’ve approved it in a very public way,” he added.

School board president Michael O’Connor said that the district’s willingness to change the plan is a sign that local government works.

“We live in the community within which we serve, and all of us have heard pretty plainly and clearly, ‘we think that number might be too big,’ ” he said. “We are being responsive to our constituents.”

Reducing the referendum could be enough to win over many supporters. Several groups that have supported the current administration in the past have not yet taken a stand.

Tony Mason of the Indianapolis Urban League said in a statement that the district needs more money to pay high-quality teachers and meet the needs of its diverse students. But he raised concerns about the potential impact of the tax increase on residents with fixed- or low-incomes.

“IPS will still need to continue in its efforts to make the case for the substantial amount it is requesting,” Mason said. “The IUL is an avid supporter of education, particularly for urban schools that struggle with unique challenges.”

Chelsea Koehring, who taught in the district and now has two children at the Butler Lab School, shares the view that the district needs more money. But leaders have not offered enough details about how the money would be spent, she said, and changing the request raises red flags.

“People, you should’ve had this together before you asked,” she said. “Lowering it at this point — I don’t know that that’s going to instill confidence in anyone that they have any clue what they are doing.”

Correction: February 17, 2018: This story has been corrected to reflect that Indiana districts have pursued more than 160 property tax referendums since 2008. Some districts have held multiple referendums.