A popular Brooklyn Heights school went from an F to an A grade in just one year — and that has parents questioning the validity of the city’s school report cards.
“Certainly it’s confusing as a parent when grades swing so widely from one extreme to another,” said Nancy Webster, who has three children at P.S. 8, 37 Hicks Street. “I have a long history with P.S. 8 so I’m very comfortable in the knowledge that P.S. 8 deserves an A grade. But if I were a new parent that did not have a history with the school, it would be hard for me to evaluate what the [city Department of Education (DOE)] is trying to say about the school.”
“I didn’t see a difference in the school from anything that happened last year to this year. It was an A school in my mind when we got that F last year,” said Diane Miller, who has two children at P.S. 8.
Last year, the DOE said P.S. 8 received an F because it “performed near the bottom of all schools citywide, particularly in the amount of progress made by its students over the course of the year.”
This year, “three-quarters of students made at least a year’s worth of progress” on English and math standardized exams, according to a department spokesperson.
Many of the city’s public schools recorded significantly higher grades this year than last. According to the DOE, 84 percent of city schools earned an A, a 38 percent increase from last year. Approximately 13 percent of schools earned a B this year.
P.S. 8 Principal Seth Phillips, who was unavailable for comment for this story, reportedly discussed the validity of the school report cards, saying, “You fundamentally have to question any system that gives 98 percent of schools A’s and B’s.” He credited the high grades to “absurdly easy” standardized tests, the report notes.
The DOE says it set the criteria for A, B, C, D and F grades last fall. Many schools received an A because their students excelled on English and math exams and “really blew away a lot of the targets that we set,” according to a rep.
Regardless of their concerns about the progress reports, parents were glad to see P.S. 8 finally get the A they believed it deserved last year.
“We felt like we deserved an A all along,” Miller said. “It’s a fantastic school.”
“I’m proud of the school when it gets a top grade but what’s more important is the day-to-day interaction, the reports that my children give back to me, the progress that I see them making, and the conversations I have with their teachers,” Webster said.
©2009 Community News Group
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