New, small high schools fared the best in the annual release today of the Department of Education's Progress Reports which grade the city's schools according to progress students make toward passing state exams, or meeting graduation targets.

Four of the five The five top-ranked schools - Theatre Arts Production Company (TAPCO), Brooklyn International, Williamsburg Prep, Marble Hill High School for International Studies, and Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design were all created under Klein's administration. Over-all, schools founded after 2002 scored about eight points higher than older schools.

What do these school grades and Progress Reports mean for students and parents now in the thick of high school admissions season? Our advice, as with the lower grade reports is, take them with a large grain of salt.<!--more-->

Consider that some of the top-rated schools get low marks from parents, students, and teachers. According to the Learning Environment Survey, at TAPCO only 52% of the teachers said that "order and discipline were maintained at the school," and, according to parents, there is no functioning Parents Association.

William H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School, one of the schools that the city is trying to close for poor performance, ranked just below Bard High School Early College, one of the city's most challenging and sought-after schools.

Central Park East High School, which does a good job moving struggling students to graduation, ranks above Stuyvesant High School, the city's most selective school. The city compares schools to others with similar demographics, and gives extra points to schools that are successful with low-achieving students.

Unlike the results of the elementary and middle school grades on Progress Reports, which took a nosedive this year after the state raised the bar for passing standardized exams, the high school grades remained consistent with last year: 180 high schools had the same grade and 40% of them received A's (as compared to 45% last year.) Of the total 1471 city schools receiving Progress Reports, 422 received A's.

In future, in recognition of the State Board of Regents new emphasis on college readiness as a mark of proficiency in high schools, the Progress Reports will also look at how many students pass college prep classes such as AP courses, whether they meet CUNY standards and don't require remediation classes in colleges, and how many graduates actually enter college.

Download a ranking of high schools Progress Reports by score here(Excel file).