2010-11-05 / Top Stories

Of 8 Rockaway High Schools, Only 3 Rated

By Howard Schwach

At one time, only a few short years ago, there were two comprehensive high schools – Far Rockaway High School and Beach Channel High School.

Then, the reign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and School Chancellor Joel Klein began. Today, there are eight schools that address high school-aged students. Some of them are in kindergarten to grade eight schools, others in smaller schools within what are now called the Far Rockaway and Beach Channel Educational Campuses.

When the city issued high school report cards on Wednesday, however, only three of those schools were rated.

Beach Channel High School, which is slated for a phase-out and closure program, received an F.

The Frederick Douglass VI Academy, a small school at the Far Rockaway Educational Campus, received a C.

And the Channel View School for Research, a grades 6 to 12 program inside the Beach Channel Educational Campus, received an A.

None of the other eight received a letter grade: Far Rockaway High School because it is on the last year of its phase-out program and will be closed in June; the high school component of the Scholars’ Academy and the others because new schools are not rated in the first two years of operation.

High school Progress Report grades are based on student attendance rates, progress toward graduation, graduation rates, and the results of parent, student and teacher surveys.

For the first time this year, families will have access to new, one-page summaries that make it easier to understand their school’s strengths and weaknesses. These Progress Report Overviews are designed to highlight clearly the key measures by which schools are graded: student progress, student performance, and school environment. The overviews also provide a brief explanation of how each measure is calculated and describe any additional credit earned by the school for success with English language learners, students with disabilities, and low-performing students.

Of the public schools that received Progress Reports on Wednesday, 133 received an A (40 percent), 97 received a B (29 percent), 69 received a C (21 percent), 23 received a D (seven perc and nine received an F (three percent).

Out of 422 high schools, 91 did not receive grades this year either because they are being phased out, or because they did not have a graduating class.

Progress Reports give each school an overall letter grade based on three categories: school environment (15 percent of the grade), student performance (25 percent), and student progress (60 percent). “School environment” includes the results of surveys taken by more than 920,000 parents, students, and teachers last spring, as well as student attendance rates. “Student performance” measures graduation outcomes and rewards schools based on the rigor of the requirements for receiving a diploma. “Student progress” measures how well schools are helping students progress towards graduation by amassing course credits and passing Regents exams. Schools that do an exemplary job closing the achievement gap can earn additional credit.

Three-fourths of a school’s Progress Report score comes from comparing the school’s results to the 40 or so other high schools in the City serving the most similar student populations. The remaining one-fourth of the school’s score is based on a comparison with all high schools citywide.

Schools that receive a grade of D, F, or a third consecutive C on the Progress Report and schools that receive a rating below “proficient” on the Quality Review are considered for intensive support or intervention or may be closed, according to a DOE spokesperson.

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