Grading the System
The release of this month’s New York City school report cards and the threatened teacher witch-hunt, as reported earlier, has principals questioning the system as well, reports the New York Times. The report cards graded schools on how they fared citywide, as well as against schools with similar demographics. To further complicate matters, the grading system focused on rewarding improved student performance, which ironically occurs more often in low-performing schools. After receiving complaints from leaders of top-tier schools who had their own suggestions for equalizing the system, the city decided to factor in bonus points for strong scores on the state's Regents exam.
Randy Asher, principal of B-rated Brooklyn Technical High School, says the decision to add extra points is ridiculous. “I think we all really came to the table saying, let’s find something fair for schools like ours,” he said. “And I don’t think we succeeded.”
Others have complained about the oversimplification of the grading process. “It is reductive to give a school, which is a complex organism, a single letter grade,” said New York City school historian Diane Ravitch.
The schools' chief accountability officer James Liebman sees the grading process as imperfect, but "evolving." Giving schools grades, he says, "does concentrate attention, and that's what this is about."