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DOE evaluation threatens closure of legendary-name high schools

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 12/6/2012, 3:25 p.m.

The Department of Education (DOE) recently released its progress report for public high schools. As a result of the findings, a reported 60 schools are slated to close due to low grades. The list includes Boys and Girls High Schools in Brooklyn, Choir Academy of Harlem and the High School of Graphic Communication Arts.

The DOE awards letter grades to schools based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance, as well as surveys of parents, students and teachers about their schools. For the first time, the reports also measure how many students in each high school take and perform well in advanced courses, graduate ready for college and enroll in a college or other postsecondary program.

"Our high schools play an important role in student outcomes beyond K-12," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "By measuring how well our schools prepare students for college and careers, the progress reports shine a light on the importance of increased rigor as a bridge to future success."

According to the DOE, although individual schools' grades were generally stable, 7 percent more high schools earned As and Bs and 4 percent fewer schools received Ds and Fs compared to last year. The average score increased by 1.8 points, as over 5,000 more students received Regents diplomas.

This year, 34 percent of high schools, transfer high schools and Young Adult Borough Centers received an A; 38 percent received a B; 21 percent received a C; 5 percent received a D; and 2 percent received an F. In 2011, 33 percent received an A; 32 percent received a B; 24 percent received a C; 8 percent received a D; and 4 percent received an F.

"Our high schools are rising to the challenge of more rigorous standards and diploma requirements," said Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky. "The progress reports show that more students are taking rigorous courses in high school and graduating ready for college."

Grades remained stable for individual schools, as 95 percent of schools maintained the same grade or changed by one grade from 2011, just about all within two grades from 2011. In total, 142 schools received an A; 159 schools received a B; 88 schools received a C; 21 schools received a D; and 10 schools received an F.

"The 'engagement' process should mean a real attempt by Tweed to help these struggling schools improve," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. "But as history as shown, when it comes to sitting on their hands and watching schools fail, this administration has always gotten straight As."