The city released its fifth annual public high school progress report last week, and for the 2010-11 school year schools in Queens outperformed the citywide average, with 98 percent of schools either maintaining or moving up or down one grade from the previous year. One Queens school, Hillcrest High School, jumped two letter grades, from a C to an A.
The Jamaica Hills high school, at 160-05 Highland Avenue, increased the percentage of students completing their remaining Regents and graduation rates went up, resulting in the higher score.
Across the borough, 29 schools received the same grade they did in 2009-10, 16 schools improved by one letter grade and six schools fell by one grade. No school in Queens received an F on the city Department of Education report.
The DOE cited stricter Regents exam standards as the reason behind more grades declining than increasing across the city. The class of 2011 was required to pass four of the exams with a 65 to graduate. For the first year, the progress reports noted several college readiness metrics, which are being phased into the reports and do not count toward a school’s grade this year.
In Queens, 31.5 percent of schools had 50 percent or more of their graduating students score 65 or higher on their Regents — the score required to receive a degree.
But only 18 percent of schools had a 50 percent or higher college readiness index, which measures the percentage of graduating students to score high enough on their Regents to test out of remedial coursework at the City University of New York.
So while the DOE points out that schools have done a better job of graduating students since Mayor Michael Bloomberg came into office in 2002, the top officials recognize the shortcoming in preparing students for college.
“Our message to schools is clear: Students need to be meeting a higher bar and doing more rigorous work if they are going to be ready for life after high school,” said city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “It’s important that our principals, teachers, students and families are on the same page in this effort and understand the goal is not just graduating, but graduating college- and career-ready.”
Top performing schools such as Queens High School for the Sciences at York College in Jamaica and Townsend Harris High School in Fresh Meadows received A’s and had 100 percent of their graduating students pass out of remedial classes at CUNY.
On the other hand, a school like the High School of Applied Communication in Long Island City, which also received an A, had only 11.6 percent of graduating students pass out of remedial classes.
Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, which opened in 2006 and was graded for the first time this year (D), had the borough’s lowest college readiness index at 1.3 percent.
Borough President Helen Marshall said she and state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood), chairwoman of the state Education Committee, would be paying a surprise visit to a poor-performing school in the wake of the report.
“So many of our students are not prepared to go to college,” she said. “I don’t think, right now, the system is working for our kids.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2011 Community News Group
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