High School Progress Reports Due Monday

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The Department of Education is planning to release this year's A through F report cards for hundreds of city high schools Monday, and for the first time those grades will be based partly on how well students are prepared for college and careers.

Last year, the college and career readiness score was noted on schools' progress reports but they weren't counted. This year those scores count for 10 percent of each high school's overall grade which is also based on test scores, how many credits students accumulate each year, school environment and student progress.

The change is part of the state's push toward higher standards. New York State has documented a large discrepancy between high school graduation rates and the number of students deemed ready for freshman year in college. Last year, about 60 percent of city students graduated high school in four years. But less than 30 percent were considered ready for college based a few factors including whether they scored 75 or higher on their English Regents and 80 or higher on their math Regents.

The progress reports state, "The College and Career Readiness section measures how well students are prepared for life after high school on the basis of passing advanced courses, meeting English and math standards, and enrolling in a post-secondary institution."

Brian Rosenbloom, principal of Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School in Manhattan, said his school went from a low B last year to a high B in 2012. His graduation rate has been going up steadily since he received federal "transformation" funds and is now over 70 percent.

But when he burrowed into the college and career readiness section, Rosenbloom said 20.5 percent of his graduates met the readiness threshold. That was higher than average for schools with similar demographics but a little lower than the citywide average.

"I think it's probably accurate," he said. His school has been pushing more students to take Advanced Placement tests. But few students pass them. And fewer than half of his students scored at or above 75 on their English Regents and 80 or higher on their math Regents.

Rosenbloom said he didn't feel penalized by the new scoring system.

"Rather it opens our eyes," he said. "Maybe we're not doing as good a job as we should be doing. Maybe we need to put more emphasis on the higher level classes and push our students to take those courses."

The progress reports for the city high schools initially were scheduled for release at the end of October but the storm and subsequent turmoil in the school system pushed the date a month later. It is unclear if the delay will affect the process of closing some of the lowest performing schools.