Dept of Ed eliminates letter grades for schools

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Schools in New York City will still be giving out letter grades on their report cards this year, but they will not be receiving them. 

On Oct. 1, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that the Department of Education (DOE) is overhauling its system for measuring the success of city schools. 

Under the Bloomberg administration, the DOE issued annual progress reports that assigned public schools grades ranging from A to F in categories that included student progress, student performance, school environment and an overall progress grade. Parents and educators could view the data on the DOE’s individual school websites. 

But Ms. Fariña, who left her position as a deputy Chancellor under Bloomberg due in part to their divergence on the issue of test score emphasis, said in her experience, the progress report grades often misrepresented and oversimplified individual schools’ successes or failures. 

“In my first years as a consultant, I walked into an A school with a progress report pasted on every door and I was horrified when evidence of good classroom instruction and collaboration was missing,” she said. “In 100 subsequent school visits throughout the city, I was consistently amazed that my evaluation often did not match the progress report.” 

Schools that received poor grades, she said, were often unfairly slated for closure, despite promising steps being taken by educators and parents at those locations. 

The “School Quality Snapshot” Ms. Fariña announced will emphasize qualitative, rather than quantitative, information about each school in the public school system based on both a formal school visit from the DOE and feedback from parents, students and teachers. 

That snapshot will be released alongside a “School Quality Guide,” which will provide a more data driven analysis of the school — but one without the inflexible letter grades of past years. 

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