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Critics Question High Marks for New York City Schools

It's report card time again in New York City and this time, the controversial grading system for individual schools is drawing criticism for the overwhelming number of As and Bs that were issued.

In a news conference yesterday, Chancellor Joel I. Klein got a little testy when reporters asked him if the report cards had lost some of their value since 97 percent of elementary and middle schools received either an A or B, compared to 79 percent last year. Only five schools got a D, while 2 received an F.

“We want to make clear that that means that they met their progress targets,” said Mr. Klein, according to the New York Times account of the news conference. “Not by any stretch of the imagination that those schools don’t have a lot of improvement ahead of them.”

The report cards, introduced by Klein two years ago as a marquee piece of his push for more accountability, are meant to inform parents about how well their children are being taught and to allow them to compare performance to other schools. The results are also used to determine whether principals keep their jobs and whether schools will receive bonuses for good performance.

GothamSchools points out that the sharp increase in high-scoring schools could complicate things for Mr. Klein when he makes decisions about closing schools this year. Apparently, several schools that have been on his chopping block got As.

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