Grading New York

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Our old friend and colleague Marcus Winters has just released a study on New York City’s school grading program:

In 2006-07, New York City, the largest school district in the United States, decided it would follow several other school systems in adopting a progress report program. Under its program, the city grades schools from A to F according to an accumulating point system based on the weighted average of measurements of school environment, students’ performance, and students’ academic progress.

The implementation of these progress reports has not been without controversy. While many argue that they inform parents about public school quality and encourage schools to improve, others contend that grades lower morale at low-performing schools. To date there has been too little empirical information about the program’s effectiveness to settle these questions.

Schools that recieve D and F grades repeatedly are subject to takeover by the city. A previous study (Rockoff and Turner 2008) found positive results from the program but lacked student-level data. Marcus’s study has got student-level data, regression discontinuity – the whole smash. Tale of the tape:

Students in schools earning an F grade made overall improvements in math the following year, though these improvements occurred primarily among fifth-graders.

Students in F-graded schools did no better or worse in English than students in schools that were not graded F.

Whatever problems NCLB may have, school accountability does work in places where state and local government have the political will to do it seriously. Even in places where the problems seem intractible, like New York City.

EMTs are standing by in case certain people’s heads explode.

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