Proposed Phase-out and Replacement Scenario for Performance Conservatory High School
■ Based on an extensive review of data and community feedback, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) has determined that Performance Conservatory High School (Performance Conservatory) is unable to turn around and cannot provide a high-quality education to its students. The DOE is proposing that Performance Conservatory be phased out.
■ Proposing to phase out a school is the most difficult decision we make. We are proposing this action because we think it’s the right thing for current and future students in this community.
■ The phase-out process would be gradual and happen over the next several years. Performance Conservatory would complete phasing out in June 2014.
■ The replacement process would also be gradual. A new high school would be proposed to open in the building where Performance Conservatory is located and would begin enrolling ninth grade students. The new school would gradually grow as Performance Conservatory’s enrollment decreases.
■ We hope you share our view that we can—and must—do better for students. The DOE will continue to work closely with Performance Conservatory staff and families to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed in school.
Educational Impact Statement
Read the full description of the phase-out proposal here.
Read the full description of the replacement co-location proposal here.
Sharing Your Concerns and Questions
The DOE is seeking your feedback on the proposal. We will record your comments and include them in our analysis of public feedback, which is presented to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) prior to their vote on the proposal. Please submit any comments you have at:
Joint Public Hearing
Date: January 28, 2011
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Performance Conservatory / Explorations / J.H.S. 098, 1619 Boston Road, Bronx, NY 10460
Archive: Read a transcript of the hearing
Panel for Educational Policy Vote on the Proposal
Date: February 3, 2011
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217
For more information, see the PEP website .
■ Last year, the four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) at Performance Conservatory was 49%, well below the citywide average of 63% .
■ Last year, Performance Conservatory earned an overall F grade on its Progress Report, with F grades on the Student Performance, Student Progress, and School Environment sub-sections. The Progress Report results for Performance Conservatory put the school in the bottom 1% of all high schools that received a 2009-2010 Progress Report.
■ Performance Conservatory staff and families have worked hard to improve the school. The DOE also offered considerable support to Performance Conservatory, including extensive training for school leadership and teachers and working with the school’s administration to use school funds most effectively. Unfortunately, these efforts have not turned the school around.
What would the proposal mean for current students?
If this proposal is approved, Performance Conservatory would be phased out gradually over the next several years. Below are enrollment plans for current Performance Conservatory students, if the school is phased out.
■ Current first-time ninth grade students would have the option of completing high school at Performance Conservatory or may participate in the High School Admissions Process and apply to attend a different school as a 10 th grader in September 2011.
■ Current repeat ninth grade students will complete high school at Performance Conservatory if they earn credits on schedule. As the school would become smaller, students would receive more individualized attention through graduation to ensure they are receiving the support they need to succeed. Students are also encouraged to meet with their guidance counselor to review their progress toward graduation and discuss their options, which may include applying to a transfer school.
■ Current 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students who are on track to graduate will complete high school at Performance Conservatory if they continue to earn credits on schedule. As the school would become smaller, students would receive more individualized attention through graduation to ensure they are receiving the support they need to succeed. Students are also encouraged to meet with their guidance counselor to discuss all of their options.
■ Current 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students who are not on track to graduate should meet with their guidance counselor to discuss options. Students could complete high school at Performance Conservatory or consider applying to a transfer high school.
If Performance Conservatory is phased out, the school would no longer admit new ninth grade students after the end of this school year. Performance Conservatory would continue to serve students currently enrolled in the school until the school completes phasing out in June 2014.
Performance Conservatory Has Struggled for Years
■ Last year, Performance Conservatory’s four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) was 49%, well below the citywide average of 63%. Performance Conservatory’s graduation rate ranks in the bottom 7% of high schools citywide and in the bottom 10% of high schools in the Bronx. This is a decline from the prior year when Performance Conservatory had a four-year graduation rate of 56%, which placed the school in the bottom 20% of high schools citywide and in the bottom 25% of high schools in the Bronx.
■ If Regents diplomas alone counted toward graduation—as will be the case next year—the 2009-2010 four-year graduation rate at Performance Conservatory would drop to 17%, well below the citywide average of 46%.
■ Performance Conservatory earned an overall F grade on its Progress Report last year, with F grades on the Student Performance, Student Progress, and School Environment sub-sections. Performance Conservatory’s Progress Report score ranks in the bottom 1% of high schools receiving a 2009-2010 Progress Report. Performance Conservatory earned an overall C grade on its 2008-2009 Progress Report, with a D on Student Performance, a C on Student Progress, and a C on School Environment.
■ Last year, only 51% of first-year students at Performance Conservatory earned at least 10 credits. Performance Conservatory ranks in the bottom 3% of high schools citywide and in the bottom 4% of high schools in the Bronx in credit accumulation. That same year, an even smaller percentage of students in their second and third years accumulated 10 credits. Earning at least 10 credits is a key predictor of future student success because students who fall behind often have trouble getting back on track to graduate.
■ The school’s attendance rate continues to be extremely low. Last year, the attendance rate was 76%, ten points below the citywide average of 86% for high schools. In fact, this attendance rate is among the very lowest for any high school in New York City, placing Performance Conservatory in the bottom 5%. In 2008-2009, the attendance rate was 80%, placing the school in the bottom 15% citywide.
■ Performance Conservatory was rated “Proficient” on its most recent Quality Review in 2008-2009. During Quality Reviews, experienced educators spend several days visiting a school, observing classrooms, and talking to staff, students, and parents. Schools are rated on a four-point scale, with “Well Developed” as the highest rating. “Proficient” is equivalent to a score of three out of four.
■ Safety issues have been a concern at Performance Conservatory in recent years. On the 2009-2010 NYC School Survey, 20% of students reported feeling unsafe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms. That same year, 20% of parents expressed concerns about their children’s safety. In addition , 83% of teachers reported that discipline and order were not maintained at the school.
Demand for the School is Declining, Suggesting that Families Are Seeking Better Options 
Demand for Performance Conservatory has fallen in recent years. Performance Conservatory has one limited unscreened program to which students may apply through the High School Admissions Process. For September 2008 enrollment, Performance Conservatory received 8.7 applications per seat. This number dropped to 7.6 applications per seat during the following year. Then, for September 2010 enrollment, Performance Conservatory received 3.3 applications per seat.
Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance at Performance Conservatory Remains Low
We recognize that Performance Conservatory staff members have worked hard to improve the school, but the school has not turned around. Over the previous years, the DOE has offered numerous supports to Performance Conservatory including:
■ Helping the principal develop the school’s Comprehensive Education Plan and set school goals.
■ Connecting administrators with other schools to learn effective practices that could be replicated at Performance.
■ Training and on-site support for teacher teams to foster collaboration, explore effective teaching practices, and use data analyses to improve instruction for targeted student populations such as English language learners, special education students, and students performing below grade level.
■ Offering training for staff on individualizing instruction, using data to make instructional decisions, new state standards, and curriculum development.
■ Guiding the school in working with other schools on campus to ensure efficient and coordinated use of facilities and shared spaces.
■ Providing one-on-one support to principal and school staff on budgeting, human resources, recruiting and retaining talented teachers, and compliance issues.
■ Training for guidance counselors on how to use scholarship reports and graduation tracking systems.
■ Helping the school identify strategies to improve student attendance and reduce.
We Know That We Can Do Better
Like most New York City public schools, Performance Conservatory serves a high-need population: 23% of students require special education services and 9% are English language learners. But other schools serving similar students have achieved far better results.
■ At Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies, a Bronx school, 25% of students require special education services and 19% of students are English language learners. That school achieved a 67% four-year graduation rate in 2009-2010, with 35% of students earning Regents diplomas.
■ At High School for Violin and Dance, a Bronx school, 24% of students require special education services and 9% of students are English language learners. That school achieved a 83% four-year graduation rate in 2009-2010, with 70% of students earning Regents diplomas.
■ While all students are still not where we’d like them to be, these schools are getting better results while serving a similar mix of students to Performance Conservatory.
On November 23, 2010, High School Superintendent Geraldine Taylor-Brown held meetings with the School Leadership Team and parents at the school to discuss what is working at Performance Conservatory, what isn’t working, and how to work together to better serve students. Approximately 10 parents attended. They had positive feedback about the school’s new leadership and said that communication between the school and families has improved as a result. However, we do not believe these improvements are enough to move Performance Conservatory in the right direction.
Supporting Current and Future Students
We Remain Focused on Helping Performance Conservatory Students to Succeed
During the proposed phase-out, the DOE will build on our past efforts to help the school by:
■ Providing teacher training around issues including curriculum planning, improving teaching practices, and tailoring instruction to individual student needs.
■ Fostering opportunities for teachers and administrators to connect with colleagues in other more successful schools, allowing them to learn from one another, improve teaching, and better support students.
■ Facilitating partnerships with community-based organizations to support youth development initiatives at the school.
Plans for New Schools for the Performance Conservatory Community
As we work together to create better options for the Performance Conservatory community, we will keep in mind what had worked at Performance Conservatory and do our best to incorporate those positive elements into replacement plans. For example:
■ We will work with the community to retain partnerships with community based organizations that are offering valuable services to the school community; and
■ We will consider what elements of the school structure are working and do our best to include those features in a replacement school, if Performance Conservatory is phased out.
What You Can Expect
Within the next two weeks, you will receive a letter notifying you that the formal proposal to phase out Performance Conservatory has been published and that a joint public hearing to be held at the school has been scheduled. Replacement plans will be published in a separate proposal. The joint public hearing will be held in January 2011 by the DOE, District 12 Community Education Council and the Performance Conservatory’s School Leadership Team, among others. The Citywide Council for High Schools will be invited to participate in the joint public hearing. During this hearing, community members, including parents and students, will be able to share their thoughts on the phase out proposal.
The proposal to phase out Performance Conservatory will be voted on by the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which is composed of members appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and the five Borough Presidents, during a public meeting scheduled for the first week of February 2011. During this meeting, the public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposal. If the PEP approves the proposal, Performance Conservatory will not accept new 9th grade students next school year.
 The graduation rate cited here represents the City’s calculation of the four-year graduation rate on the school’s 2009-2010 Progress Reports. It is similar to the State method, and typically there is only modest deviation between our calculation and the State rate. Citywide four-year graduation rates for the Class of 2010 are still being audited by the New York State Education Department and will not likely be available until Spring 2011. The most recent available four-year graduation rate (including August graduates) for New York City was 63% for the Class of 2009 and the citywide Regents graduation rate for the same year was 46%.
 Audited enrollment data are not yet available for the current school year. Enrollment data are from the 2009-2010 school year, audited as of October 31, 2009. Demand data reflect high school admissions applications submitted in early December 2009 for students beginning high school in September 2010.