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Is my school a B? Or a D? I'm confused!

At PS 3, there is more focus on learning through play than on test prep. Does that make the school mediocre...or proficient? At PS 3, there is more focus on learning through play than on test prep. Does that make the school mediocre...or proficient? (Photo by Aryn Bloodworth)

PS 243 in Brooklyn got a big green B on its Progress Report which seems good. But right next to it is a mustard-colored D which seems not so good.

PS 234 in Tribeca, one of the city's top-performing elementary schools, got a C, a mediocre grade. But right next to the C is a bright green WD. So is the school crappy or squeaky?

PS 3 in Greenwich Village is another favorite with parents. It also got a C. But next to the C was a green P. What's that about?

Too many ingredients in this alphabet soup?

When the elementary and middle school reports were released yesterday, no one mentioned a change in format which has the school's most recent Quality Review "score" posted alongside the Progress Report grade. Quality Reviews are written by Education Department officials who visit classrooms to judge how well the schools are educating the students. Unlike the Progress Reports, they don't focus on test scores in their evaluations.

But, you have to read the small print on the Progress Report to find out that a D on the Quality Review means a school is still "developing" (or at least it was when the last reviewer visited.) WD, the top mark, means a school is "well-developed" and P stands for "proficient". The worst grade is UD for "underdeveloped."

Parents looking at their child's school scores might ask, as a Spanish-speaking parent asked us, "entonces, es bueno?" (So, is that good?).

No wonder parents are confused. Especially when schools like PS 234 get a bright red F on student performance even though more than 80 percent of the students ace the state exams.

For parents who like to dig deep into the data, and aren't afraid of information overload, Quality Reviews are a good resource. But seemingly contradictory data displayed side by side makes the information less useful to parents.

We noticed another quirk: some schools, like PS 189 in Brooklyn, do not have the most recent Quality Review scores posted. The score on the 2012 Progress Report is a WD, well-developed. But that is from a 2007-2008 Quality Review visit. The 2011-2012 Quality Review found the school to be developing (D) which is a lower score. 

Our advice (once again): Don't get too hung up on these letter grades. Take a look at the Learning Environment Survey which tells you whether teachers, parents and students are satisfied with the school. Oh, and better yet, spend some time at the school to form your own opinion.

Last modified on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 11:17

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