No More Letter Grades For Evaluating NYC Schools
A through F system has been in place since 2006.
New York City's schools chancellor announced a new system for evaluating schools Wednesday that will replace A-through-F letter grades based largely on test scores with a more complex system that includes a variety of measures.
Chancellor Carmen Farina told educators and officials at a Brooklyn school auditorium that schools have unique qualities that cannot be captured in a letter grade.
Instead of a grade, Farina said, parents will be given a "school quality snapshot" that will include measures like graduation rates and standardized test scores as well as answers to survey questions such as "How well do teachers work with each other?" and "How interesting and challenging is the curriculum?"
"We are looking beyond test scores and focusing on making sure that each school has what it needs for sustained and continuous growth," Farina said. "And we have developed a framework that mirrors the essential elements we see in schools that continually improve."
The letter grades, instituted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006, were based largely on performance on state tests. Schools were judged in comparison to other schools with similar student profiles.
The school "snapshots" will compare a school's performance to the citywide and districtwide averages rather than to demographically similar schools.
Farina said the system is designed to encourage collaboration rather than competition. "Competition among teachers and principals does not improve instruction," she said. "Collaboration does."
The first "snapshots" will be released by the end of the calendar year, school officials said.
The demise of the letter-grade system was expected, as Mayor Bill de Blasio was a longtime critic.
Wednesday's audience cheered when Farina said, "No more letter grades!"
United Federation of Teachers head Michael Mulgrew said, "We've asked for these types of changes for years."
But opponents of de Blasio's education policies including backers of charter schools said the new system represents a retreat from accountability.
"With more than 143,000 students trapped in failing schools, Chancellor Farina chose today to go backwards, refusing to acknowledge failure and rejecting accountability," said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of the education reform group Families for Excellent Schools.