News and Speeches

Chancellor Walcott Releases 2011 High School Progress Reports

Reports Measure How Many Students are Ready for College and Enroll After Graduation

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today released the fifth annual Progress Reports for 495 New York City high schools, transfer high schools, and young adult borough centers. The reports award letter grades to schools based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework, and student attendance, as well as surveys of parents, students, and teachers about their schools. For the first time, the reports measure how many students in each high school take and perform well in advanced courses, graduate ready for college, and enroll in a college after graduation. As in previous years, schools received additional credit for progress made with students with disabilities and English Language Learners. Also new this year as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, schools were awarded points for high graduation rates by black and Latino males who entered high school struggling academically.

“Our message to schools is clear: students need to be meeting a higher bar and doing more rigorous work if they are going to be ready for life after high school.” said Chancellor Walcott. “It’s important that our principals, teachers, students and families are on the same page in this effort and understand the goal is not just graduating, but graduating college and career-ready.”

“As we continue to raise classroom standards and prepare schools for tougher graduation requirements, it looks like our students are rising to the challenge,” said Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky. “We can’t wait for the State to toughen its tests or align its policies to college-readiness standards—our work has to begin right away.”

Although individual schools’ grades were generally stable, with increases in graduation requirements and tighter standards for measuring credit accumulation and scoring Regents exams, fewer schools received an A this year than last year. This year, 32.7 percent of high schools, transfer high schools, and young adult borough centers received an A, 31.6 percent received a B, 24.0 percent received a C, 8.2 percent received a D, and 3.6 percent received an F. In 2010, 38.3 percent received an A, 29.7 percent received a B, 21.6 percent received a C, 6.9 percent received a D, and 3.6 percent received an F. Other highlights include:
  • 128 schools received an A, 124 schools received a B, 94 schools received a C, 32 schools received a D, and 14 schools received an F. 103 new schools, schools that did not yet have a graduating class, and schools phasing out received reports with no grades.
  • Grades remained stable for individual schools, as 90 percent of schools maintained the same grade or changed by one grade from 2010; 99 percent of schools were within two grades.
  • Among all City schools that received grades this year, including early childhood, elementary, middle, high, District 75, transfer schools, and young adult borough centers, the grade distribution was: 26 percent As, 34 percent Bs, 30 percent Cs, 7 percent Ds, and 4 percent Fs.
  • 6 of the 11 Staten Island high schools receiving grades earned an A; a lower percentage of high schools in Brooklyn (28 percent) and the Bronx (29 percent) received an A than those in Queens (34 percent) and Manhattan (38 percent).
  • High schools opened since 2002 continue to outperform older high schools, and the trend is more pronounced when comparing schools with unscreened seats. This year, 39 percent of high schools with unscreened seats opened in 2002 or later received an A, compared to 23 percent of schools with unscreened seats opened before 2002.
For the first time, Progress Reports include new information on how many students pass rigorous college preparatory courses in high school, how many students graduate having met the requirements for passing out of remedial coursework according to the standards set by the City University of New York (CUNY), and how many students go on to enroll in college. Results are reported on the Progress Report this year and schools will be held accountable for these measures next year.

To help address the lagging academic performance of black and Latino male students, in August Mayor Bloomberg announced new accountability measures as part of his citywide Young Men’s Initiative. This year, schools earned points for making significant gains with black and Latino males whose 8th grade math and English performance was within the lowest third citywide. Another new measure rewards schools that moved students with disabilities to more inclusive settings.

After gathering feedback from families and school communities, the Department of Education redesigned the Progress Report layout to provide a better explanation of its methodology, and make the results clearer and more useful to schools and the public. Progress Reports for high schools, transfer high schools, and young adult borough centers are now available on the Department of Education’s web site, along with Progress Report Overviews, designed to explain highlights of each school’s report to families.

Progress Report Methodology

The Progress Report measures students’ year-to-year progress, compares a school to other schools with similar students, and rewards success in moving all students forward, especially those with the greatest needs. The Progress Report is designed to differentiate among schools in a way that provides educators with performance data, supports parents in choosing schools, and informs DOE school intervention and support decisions. The methodology takes into account the different challenges schools face so that the evaluations are a reflection of what the school contributes to the student, not what the student brings to the school.

Progress Reports give each school an overall letter grade based on three categories: student progress (60 percent), student performance (25 percent), and school environment (15 percent). The student progress component measures how well schools are helping students progress toward graduation by earning course credits and passing Regents exams. The student performance component measures graduation outcomes and rewards schools based on the rigor of the diplomas students receive. The school environment component compiles the results of surveys taken by parents, students, and teachers at each school last spring, as well as student attendance rates. Schools can also earn additional credit by achieving exemplary gains with high-need students.

Seventy-five percent of a school’s Progress Report score comes from comparing the school’s results to the 40 or so other schools in the City that serve the most similar student populations. The remaining 25 percent of a school’s score is based on a comparison with all schools citywide that serve the same grade levels. High schools are graded based on scoring thresholds that are communicated to schools during the school year.

The Progress Report is one of several measures that make up the City’s accountability system for schools. The Quality Review consists of an observation conducted by an experienced educator, evaluating how well a school is organized to educate its students. The annual School Survey, which factors into the Progress Report, received responses from over 960,000 parents, students, and teachers about the academic expectations, communications, level of engagement, and degree of safety and respect at their schools.

Learn more about the Progress Report at: Information about other aspects of the City’s accountability system is available at: