Manhattan

District Planning

Choir Academy of Harlem

 Report to the Community on the Performance of Choir Academy of Harlem (05M469)

(to download a printable PDF of this report, click here)

 

Introduction

We want every community to have high quality school options for families. To accomplish this goal, we are committed to the constant improvement of our schools—from student achievement to school environment. Every fall, the Department of Education (DOE) reviews the performance of all schools Citywide. Over the past several years, despite the best efforts of the community and the DOE to support Choir Academy of Harlem (“Choir Academy”), the school has struggled to demonstrate the capacity to meet basic requirements for student success and to support the student achievement your school community deserves.

 

Staff and families have worked hard to improve the school and the DOE has provided considerable support to Choir Academy: supporting school leadership; providing resources to increase the rigor of student work; offering supports to strengthen classroom instruction; ensuring the school is organized to focus on student achievement; working to improve the learning environment and culture of the school; and fostering community relationships and partnerships. Unfortunately, our best efforts have not turned around the school.

 

We understand that students, families, and staff members of Choir Academy believe in the school’s potential and we know that this message is a difficult one. At the same time, we hope you share our view that we can—and must—do better for our students. We count on each of our schools to provide a high-quality education to our students—and we hold all of them to the same high standard. We must ensure our students don’t fall further behind.

 

This report provides an overview of the data and information we will review as we consider how to best serve current and future students of Choir Academy.

 

Performance Summary – Middle School Grades

 

Proficiency: % of Students on Grade Level

Progress Report Grades

Quality Review Rating

English

Mathematics

2009-2010

2010-2011

2011-2012

2010-2011

11%

18%

C

B

F

Proficient

 

  • The overwhelming majority of Choir Academy middle school students remain below grade level in English and math. Only 11% of students were performing on grade level in Englishputting the school in the bottom 4% of middle schools Citywide. Only 18% of students were performing on grade level in mathputting the school in the bottom 3% of middle schools Citywide.
  • The Progress Report measures the progress and performance of students in a school, as well as the school environment, compared to other schools serving similar student populations. Choir Academy’s middle school program earned an F grade on its 2011-2012 annual Progress Report, including an F grade for Student Progress, a D grade for Student Performance, and a C grade for School Environment. This year’s Progress Report marks a sharp decline in Choir Academy’s performance as compared with earlier years.
  • Safety issues have been a concern at the school. On the 2012 New York City School Survey, only 70% of middle student respondents reported feeling safe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms at the school—putting Choir Academy in the bottom 17% of middle schools Citywide. Furthermore, only 77% of middle school parent respondents reported that their child was safe at Choir Academy, putting the school in the bottom 4% of middle schools Citywide.

  

Performance Summary – High School Grades

 

Graduation Rates

Progress Report Grades

Quality Review Rating

2011-2012 (4 year rate)

2011-2012 (6 year rate)

2009-2010

2010-2011

2011-2012

2010-2011

61%

73%

B

C

F

Proficient

 

  • Graduation rates have declined over the past two years. Choir Academy’s four-year graduation rate for high school students (including August graduates) was 61% in 2012, which is below the most recent Citywide average of 65.5% (Citywide average is based on the 2011 New York State reported graduation results for NYCDOE students.)
  • First year credit accumulation is a key predictor of student success in high school because students who fall behind early often have trouble getting back on track to graduate. In 2011-2012, only 54% of first-year ninth-grade students at Choir Academy earned at least 10 credits with at least 6 of those credits earned across 3 of the 4 core subject areas. This rate of credit accumulation puts Choir Academy in the lowest 5% of schools Citywide.
  • The Progress Report measures the progress and performance of students in a school, as well as the school environment, compared to other schools serving similar student populations. Choir Academy’s high school program earned an F grade on its 2011-2012 annual Progress Report, including F grades for Student Progress, Student Performance, School Environment, and College and Career Readiness. This year’s Progress Report marks a further decline in Choir Academy’s performance after the school dropped to an overall C grade on the 2010-2011 Progress Report.
  • Only 36% of students in the Class of 2011 (all students who entered high school four years earlier) enrolled in a two- or four-year college, vocational school, or public service program by December 31, 2011. This is significantly lower than the Citywide average of 46%.
  • As mentioned above, safety issues have been a concern at Choir Academy. With only 70% of student respondents on the 2012 New York City School Survey having reported feeling safe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms at Choir Academy, the school is in the bottom 9% of high schools Citywide. With only 77% of parent respondents having reported that their child is safe at school, Choir Academy is in the bottom 6% of high schools Citywide.   
  • Demand for Choir Academy is low. Though all eighth graders have the right to remain at the school for high school, only 51% of 2011-2012 eighth-grade students who were promoted chose to enroll in the ninth grade at the school for the 2012-2013 school year.

 

 

Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance Remains Low

Over the past several years, the DOE has provided numerous supports to Choir Academy. Among those supports are:

 

·      Working with the principal to develop strong leadership skills;

·      Providing strategies for engaging students in rigorous assignments that will prepare them for success in future educational and professional pursuits;

·      Working to improve classroom instruction by giving teachers feedback that is aimed at strengthening their practice and providing professional development aligned with the Common Core Standards;

·      Recommending effective ways to organize the school;

·      Providing operational support for budget, enrollment, facilities, transportation, and health, among other areas, to allow school leadership to maximize support for student learning;

·      Helping the school to improve the learning environment and develop a culture that supports safety, respect, and socio-emotional development; and

·      Supporting the school in developing and maintaining strong ties to the community.

 

It is important to note that all schools identified by the DOE as “struggling” will receive an action plan. As we consider potential improvement options for Choir Academy, we will reflect on past efforts at the school to help us identify what has been working and what has not. This information will guide our thinking about how to best support students and the community going forward.

 
 

Next Steps and What You Can Expect

Over the coming weeks, we will talk to parents, students, staff, and members of the Choir Academy community as well as organizations that work with the school. We are particularly interested to learn about things that may not be obvious on paper: What do you think is working well at the school? What is not working?

 

Based on that feedback as well as a thorough review of multiple types of school data, we will propose one of the following courses of action that we believe will lead to the best outcome for current and future students:

 

Action Plan #1: Developing an action plan for the school that will focus support in areas where intensive assistance is required to improve student performance. The plan will be implemented over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. The plan may include a wide variety of supports, such as:

·         Providing leadership coaching;

·         Providing professional development on instructional strategies for struggling students;

·         Identifying grants aimed at specific needs of the school;

·         Introducing new programs;

·         Assisting with the development of a smaller learning environment; and

·         Changing leadership.

 

Action Plan #2: Providing new school options for students and parents that can better support student success by:

·         Phasing out the school or truncating a portion of the school’s grades over time by not accepting new middle and/or high school students;

·         Supporting current students at the school through graduation; and

·         Placing new district or charter school(s) in the building that will support student achievement and provide additional school choices for families.

 

As we move forward in this process and develop an action plan for the school, we will be able to provide additional details about how that plan would impact students and the broader Choir Academy community. Regardless of the outcome of this process, the DOE will work to ensure that all students receive the support they need and the excellent education they deserve. We appreciate and value your feedback and participation throughout this process.

 

Sharing Your Concerns and Questions

Parents, staff, and other community members who have questions or comments at any time are encouraged to reach out to the school’s Community District Superintendent and/or Office of Family and Community Engagement:

 

District Superintendent: Gale Reeves, D05proposals@schools.nyc.gov or 212-374-3466

Division of Family and Community Engagement (FACE): FACE@schools.nyc.gov or 212-374-4118

Office of Portfolio Management (OPM) website: http://schools.nyc.gov/community/planning/changes/manhattan/feedback?id=297

 

 

 

 

Opportunities for Feedback