As parents peruse the latest official listing of the city’s high schools, they will find new statistics about the share of students at each school who feel satisfied or who are on track to graduate. But unlike past years, they won’t find one much-debated metric: a school’s A-to-F letter grade.
The Department of Education’s 2014-15 grade-less high school directory is the first clear sign of the new administration’s progress toward solving a high-stakes puzzle: How to distinguish among the system’s 1,800 schools with enough nuance to capture each one’s strengths and weaknesses and account for factors its control, while still offering useful judgments for educators and parents.
The question is a crucial one, since families use the city’s school reports to decide where to enroll and the city has used the reports when deciding which schools to single out for special support or for closure. Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for the removal of the overall letter grades from schools’ annual progress reports, echoing critics who call the grades overly simplistic and unreliable.