The New York City Progress Report Grades were developed by the New York City Department of Education to show how each New York City school is performing. The Progress Report Grades help parents compare schools to similar schools, identify the areas in which schools excel, and pinpoint what needs to be improved. The purpose of the reports is to hold schools accountable for student achievement and help schools chart a course of action to improve student learning. The Progress Report Grades were piloted for the 2005-2006 school year and are now released annually.

What is included in the Progress Report Grades?

Schools receive a letter grade of A through F based on the school’s contribution to student learning in the areas of School Environment, Student Performance and Student Progress. Schools can receive Additional Credit for helping their high-needs students make exemplary gains.

The Progress Report Grade measures each student’s progress from year to year. It rewards success in moving all children forward, especially children with the greatest need, regardless of where they started.

What is included in School Environment?

The School Environment score reflects how well schools have set the stage for learning. It includes attendance rate and the results of the Learning Environment Survey taken by parents, students and teachers.

What is included in Student Performance?

For elementary and middle schools, Student Performance includes the percentage of students who scored at or above the proficient level on the New York State Assessment (NYSA) English language arts and math tests, as well as the median student proficiency. Median student proficiency is the middle point in the list of all of the students’ scores and shows the average performance level of the school’s students.

For high schools, Student Performance includes the percentage of students who graduated in four years and the percentage of students who graduated in six years. Schools are also measured by the type of diplomas that students receive within four years and within six years, with more credit given to diplomas that indicate a higher level of proficiency and college readiness. For example, a Regents diploma counts twice as much as a Local diploma.

What is included in Student Progress?

Student Progress compares students’ performance levels in the current year to their performance levels from the previous year to measure how much schools help students progress during the school year. For elementary and middle schools, this includes the percentage of students making at least one year of progress on the NYSA English language arts and math tests, the average change in student proficiency and average change in proficiency for the school’s lowest-performing students.

For high schools, Student Progress includes the percentage of students earning at least 10 credits in their first, second and third years. Schools are given credit for helping students progress toward passing five Regents exams, which is required by the state for graduation. Regents exam pass rates, and pass rates for the lowest-performing students, are also included.

How does a school earn Additional Credit?

To increase their total score, schools can receive Additional Credit for helping their high-needs students make exemplary gains. There are five high-needs student groups:

  • English language learners
  • Special education students
  • Hispanic students who perform in the lowest third citywide
  • Black students who perform in the lowest third citywide
  • Other students who perform in the lowest third citywide

Do all criteria count equally toward the Grade?

The School Environment Score contributes 15% to the total score, the Student Performance Score counts for 30% of the total score, and the Student Progress Score garners 55% of the total score. Since Additional Credit is added after these three criteria are totaled, the gains of high-needs students count more than any of the other three criteria.

The school’s score in each of these categories is compared to all schools in the city and to Peer Schools. How a school performs compared to Peer Schools counts twice as much as how it performs compared to the citywide results. Therefore, schools that score higher than similar schools are awarded more points toward a higher grade.

What are Peer Schools?

Peer Schools are schools with similar characteristics, which are determined by a set of ranked lists. Elementary schools are ranked by the percentage of students eligible for free lunch, student demographics, the percentage of special education students, and the percentage of English language learners. Middle schools are ranked by the scores their students received when they took the NYSA English language arts and math test in grade 4. High schools are ranked by grade 8 results. The 20 schools above and the 20 schools below each school in the ranked list are a school’s Peer Schools. Specialized High Schools are an exception to this rule and serve as their own peer group. A small number of schools do not have peer groups and will therefore not have any peer group calculations.

Do schools know what targets they should aim to meet?

Benchmarks have been set based on results for the school years of 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07. These reference points will remain the same for several years, so that progress can be measured against a fixed target.

What else is included in the Progress Reports?

In addition to the Grades, the Progress Reports include a Quality Review Score and the NCLB Status. Both are reported separately and are not included in the Progress Report Grade. The Quality Review Score is assigned following an onsite Quality Review of the school. Schools receive a score of Well Developed, Proficient or Underdeveloped based on the quality of the school’s efforts to:

  • Track performance and needs of each student
  • Set rigorous goals for improving each student’s learning
  • Focus the school’s teaching and leadership development around reaching those goals
  • Continually assess and refine the school’s plans and practices to ensure success

The Progress Reports also report the school’s status under the New York State accountability program, as determined by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). The New York State accountability program measures the school’s progress toward all students attaining academic proficiency under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The NCLB Status indicates whether the school is in good standing, needs improvement or is restructuring after several years of failing to make adequate yearly progress. It is reported separately and is not included in the Progress Report Grade.

Why do the Progress Reports matter?

Schools receiving an A or B are eligible for rewards. Schools receiving an “A” grade may become demonstration sites to help other schools improve. Schools receiving a D or F, or who receive a C for three years in a row, must implement school improvement measures and may eventually face leadership change, restructuring or closure.

If your child’s school receives a low grade, ask what steps the school is taking to improve and what you as a parent can do to help.

Why do some schools not receive a Progress Report?

Schools in their first year of operation or slated for closure do not receive Progress Reports.

What changes to the Progress Reports are planned for the future?

The percentage of students taking the PSAT, SAT and ACT in preparation for college will be added to high school reports in the near future. There are also plans to add measures of student performance and progress in grades K-2.

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