Making Sense of the High School Progress Reports

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The inclusion of a college readiness category in the latest high school progress reports prompted online discussion about whether it should be considered when grading a school’s improvement over the previous year, as well as some feisty debate about individual schools' performances.

“The purpose of high school should primarily be to produce skilled and ready workers, not just academics,” wrote jgarbuz of Queens on the website of The Brian Lehrer Show. “'College prep’ should be for a minority of HS students – those who show the desire to read, research, do higher math and science and rigorous academic work."

The listener commented on a segment about the high school progress reports that aired today on WNYC. SchoolBook’s Beth Fertig explained the results of the progress reports and took questions from listeners. The full segment can be heard above.

In addition to questions about the college readiness indicator, used for the first time in the high school reports, listeners also asked about the weight placed on standardized testing and whether grades assigned to high schools were believable.

According to the reports released Monday for the 2011-2012 school year, some improvements were recorded over the previous year. Slightly more city high schools got A’s and B’s on their report cards this year, and fewer got failing grades. Most schools kept the same grade.
For the first time this year, the scores take into account college readiness. The Department of Education said 29 percent of students who graduated in four years were deemed college ready, meaning they scored at least a 75 on the English Regents and at least 80 on the math exams.

Here’s some other coverage about the progress reports that SchoolBook found interesting:

AOL’s local Patch website in Bed-Stuy reported on the Boys & Girls High School in that neighborhood receiving its second F in a row. The principal Bernard Gassaway defended his work, saying his plan to turn around the school needed more time. Many parents, however, posted strongly-worded comments that criticized the management of the school.

Also the New York City Charter School Center posted a blog post in which it compared the results for charter high schools to the citywide results.

And The Daily News looked at the schools that had been slated for closure last year and how they fared this year. According to the News, 10 of the schools on last year’s list improved enough to be taken off the list for possible closure this year. The D.O.E. said it is in discussions with 24 struggling secondary and high schools about ways to improve and avoid closure.