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Thursday, November 13, 2008

NYC Now the Harvard of Public School Systems!

Several years ago, the Boston Globe published a story about Harvard’s “quiet secret” – rampant grade inflation. At that time, over 50% of all grades awarded were A or A-, and 91% of all students were graduating with honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude). The article notes that, “Harvard honors has actually become the laughingstock of the Ivy League. The other Ivies see Harvard as the Lake Wobegon of higher education, where all the students, being above average, can take honors for granted.” One senior student described the school’s grade inflation as “scandalous.”

With the DOE’s release yesterday of the 2007-08 Progress Reports for high schools, we can now assert that the NYC public school system is fast approaching Harvard’s level of extraordinary accomplishment after just two years of report cards. As measured by the DOE’s scoring system, the amount of progress is simply breathtaking. At a time when mayoral control of schools is up for reconsideration by the State Legislature, what evidence could possibly be more compelling in favor of the continuance of Mayor Bloomberg’s guiding hand? Consider the following numbers.

In 2006-07, 61.7% of NYC public schools received an A or a B. This year, the DOE reports a remarkable jump to 79.3% of all schools earning an A or B grade, a gain of 18.4 percentage points in high achieving schools. At the elementary/middle school level, the increase went from 60.9% with A or B grades to 78.3%, and in high schools from 65.5% to a simply astonishing 83.1%. NYC public school parents can now rest assured that some 80% of their children are attending A or B schools, with high school parents even more comforted by their 83% level of quality performance.

Looked at a different way, under a 4.0 grading system (4 points for an A, 3 points for a B, 2 for a C, 1 for a D, 0 for an F), the DOE rated 1,238 schools in 2006-07 and gave itself a net grade of 2.68 (2.67 for elementary and middle schools, 2.77 for high schools). This year, 1,326 schools have been rated so far to the tune of a 3.10 average, a whopping 15.7% increase in city schools’ overall GPA. For elementary and middle schools, the jump went from 2.67 to 3.10, for high schools from 2.77 to 3.16.

As widely scorned as last year’s initial report cards were, this year’s results are laughably worse. No rational adult in NYC, public school parent or not, will believe that 80% of the schools citywide deserve an A or B. The notion that the DOE can somehow grade itself in anything other than a self-serving manner is ludicrous, wishful thinking for the delusional true believers but utter nonsense to anyone grounded in the reality-based world. We all know the line by now. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

I’ve added some additional analysis. Schools that have Progress Report grades for both years can be divided into three groups: letter grade rose, letter grade stayed the same, or letter grade dropped. Here are the breakdowns:

Letter Grade Rose (524 schools)

B to A -- 182
C to A -- 72
D to A -- 17
F to A -- 9
C to B -- 149
D to B -- 45
F to B -- 21
D to C -- 18
F to C -- 9
F to D -- 2

Letter Grade Stayed the Same (470 schools)

A to A -- 181
B to B -- 207
C to C -- 70
D to D -- 10
F to F -- 2

Letter Grade Fell (227 schools)

A to B -- 84
A to C -- 19
A to D -- 3
A to F -- 1
B to C -- 65
B to D -- 18
B to F -- 4
C to D -- 22
C to F -- 8
D to F – 3

Note that of the 43 schools in this group rated F last year, 32 are now A or B schools after just one year!!! Similarly, of the 93 schools rated D last year, 62 of them are now A or B graded. No doubt about it - Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein are turnaround experts extraordinaire!

1 comment:

proofoflife said...

This is absolutely correct! My principal bought the Londonaires bagels and a host of little gifts. Needless to say, we had a great QR. The principal handpicked the staff members who she knew would sing her praises. The entire process was a farce. I can't imagine the DOE being objective. I am sure the DOE QR's will be even more full of you know what!