Monday, August 30, 2010

The "top" NYC high schools, with SAT scores, class sizes, and caveats

Check out the NY Post listing on the "top" 50 NYC high schools here: The top 10, 11 - 20, 21 - 40, 41 - 50. The data for all 400 plus high schools, including graduation rates, average SAT scores, etc. is available here.


The Post used the DOE progress reports, plus other relevant outcome data, to calculate this list. Like all such rankings, they have to be taken with a heavy grain of salt. In this case, the salt pile is immense, since so much of the DOE data are either unreliable or incomplete. For example, high school NYC graduation rates are often inflated, because they don't taken into account the numbers of discharged students, a huge loophole that many high schools use to boost their grad rates.


The Post says that the graduation rate in their listings reflects the percent of 9th graders who end up graduating after four years plus a summer; but that is not true. Many high schools discharge significant numbers of students before they even reach the 12th grade, and many if most of these students end up dropouts, but are never counted as such.


Even in the case of one of top schools on the list (Bard), the reporter notes that “about 20 students in each class transfer out.” In the case of Bard, a highly selective school, they probably enroll in other regular high schools, but for other schools, discharged students often end up in alternative high schools, GED programs or sometimes nowhere at all. The DOE used to make the discharge data by each individual school available in their graduation reports, but no longer does, ever since Jennifer Jennings and I produced a report on the rising discharge figures under Bloomberg and Klein.


[Correction! Updated reports for the classes of 2008 and 2009 do contain discharge data by school, at least for general ed students; see Appendix B at the links above, which reveal egregiously high discharge rates at many schools, with twice the number of official "dropouts" in many cases. What the city no longer seems to report on are discharge rates for D 75 and self-contained students.]


The NY Post's listing does not include any data on the growing practice of credit recovery, which is another manner in which many schools are artificially inflating their grad rates, (see this article by the same Post reporter on the phenomenon.) The DOE refuses to release any data on credit recovery, so it is impossible to know just how widespread this practice is. The class size data are also are not fully reliable; and tend to underestimate the actual size of classes in many high schools, since inclusion (CTT) classes are commonly reported as two separate classes.


I also don't trust the college-going rates in the listings; and the SAT scores don't include information as to what percent of the class actually took the SATs. Finally, the ratings may reflect more than anything else the socio-economic background of the students rather than what the schools actually bring to the table.


Nevertheless, as parents have a right to see this information, I have now posted a spreadsheet with SAT average scores for every school, for 2008 and 2009, as well the schoolwide class size averages for 2009-10 school year, as calculated by the DOE (as opposed to class size averages in each school by grade and subject, that are available here.). Neither of these files are on the DOE website, as far as I know.



7 comments:

rashida said...
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Claudia said...
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One of the Many said...

Thank you for your vigilance, expert analysis and the posting of new spreadsheets on the data.

No mater how much I learn about the DoE, I am still amazed by the spin, smoke and mirrors delivered to the public, and especially to parents. As a former parent nuisance at the Henry Street School, I’ve kept track of how they are doing ever since my son graduated in their first class of 2008. All through his miserable 3-1/2 years there, I was told to just give the school time-- "we're new, be patient" they said. Well, they lied. And so has the Asia Society, the school's business partner. Their website boasts that Henry Street School, serving low income children of color on the Lower East Side, has an 80% graduation rate. (No doubt, that spin allowed them to be contracted to open more new schools here in NYC.)

What I know is that Henry Street's 9th grade, 2004 cohort had 78 students in it. At graduation, there were 43 students and only 16 of them, had by the day of the 2008 commencement ceremony passed all five Regents exams and required course work in order to get their diplomas. I know this because I designed the graduation invitations and typeset the names in the graduation program. I saw the teachers and principal scrambling to find ways to add more names to the list of graduates up until the very last minute.

What of the rest of that 2004 cohort? They and their parents were made many promises. Upon the schools’ opening, there had been photo ops with the Directors, and speeches made by the Chancellor and the head of the Asia Society. All for naught since from the onset, failure on every level was rampant. Henry Street was finally added to the State’s list of Schools in Need of Improvement in 2009. From the first, to the second and now third graduating class-- students have been short shifted and there is no justifiable excuse for it.

Not from the NYC DoE, and certainly not from this school's multi-million dollar, Park Avenue based, education coach and business partner.

I sincerely believe that Henry Street School (with a current graduation rate as per the Post of 61.4%) was destined to fail from the start. All one has to do is compare the support to, and data from the Asia Society's other High School on the College of Staten Island’s campus to recognize that the students at Henry Street School were all human subjects in a well orchestrated and very costly, experiment.

Sadly, this "new" small school, and the mess they made in teaching, learning and administrative cover-ups, not to mention the money wasted and impediments to young futures, is in no way an anomaly in NYC under this horrible system of public education and mayoral control.

For shame.

james said...
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ASA said...
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Anthony-James Green said...

I'm not sure anyone has seen the new scores, but the New York Post just published them for 2011 here:
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/sat_scores_revealed_cbZJZbADfCdwKwFy6yq1BP
You can download a spreadsheet with SAT scores for all public schools across New York City. This news is appalling - New York is doing NOTHING to improve the test prep education of our students. My company, Test Prep Authority, has been working with community centers and school leaders to address the situation, and what we've found so far has been incredibly shocking. In short, no one seems to feel that test prep deserves very much attention.
Considering the internet resources we have, which would be able to provide mass-scale SAT prep (as well as education in general) to students across NYC and the country, I don't know why we aren't doing anything to rectify this situation using readily available, affordable resources. If you're interested in getting together to join forces and petition the DOE to do something, please get in touch via my website. Also, does anyone know if there are any nationwide trend charts that are readily available?

Gina Smith said...

I sincerely believe that Henry Street School (with a current graduation rate as per the Post of 61.4%) was destined to fail from the start. All one has to do is compare the support to, and data from the Asia Society's other High School on the College of Staten Island’s campus to recognize that the students at Henry Street School were all human subjects in a well orchestrated and very costly, experiment.


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