Letter from Chancellor Farina

posted Nov 12, 2014, 12:00 PM by Sylwia Jasinski



November 10, 2014

N-18, 2014-15


New School Quality Snapshots and School Quality Guides Offer a More Complete Picture of Schools Based On Multiple Measures and Show continued Increases In College and Career Readiness of Students


NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today released the 2013-14 School Quality Snapshots and School Quality Guides for elementary, middle, and high schools. A result of months of consultation with over a thousand school leaders, parents, and experts throughout the country, these reports are tailored to specific audiences and are designed to provide a more complete picture of school quality based on multiple measures.

“These reports are finally communicating to students, families, and educators real information about their schools and how to move them forward to improve student outcomes. We know that there are many measures beyond State test scores that must be considered to provide an accurate picture of school quality,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “The School Quality Snapshot and School Quality Guide give school communities deep and thoughtful information so they can best engage in a meaningful dialogue about every aspect of their school. 

Overview of the School Quality Reports

The School Quality Snapshot is a family-facing report designed to give families a concise and accessible picture of the quality of each school. The School Quality Guide provides a more robust set of information about each school across a diverse set of measures that schools can use to inform their planning efforts.


The School Quality Reports mark a significant departure from the previous accountability system. These reports do not include an overall letter grade, which painted an oversimplified and inaccurate picture of school performance based primarily on State test scores. The more complete and nuanced reports empower families to better understand each school’s characteristics, and allow schools to identify and address specific strengths and weaknesses.

Instead of overall grades, the School Quality Snapshot and School Quality Guide include information about school quality in several key areas:

·       Quality Review: a formal evaluation of the school by an experienced educator 

·       Student Progress: student improvement on the State tests in English and math for elementary and middle school students, compared to other students who scored at the same level last year, as well as progress high school students make towards graduation by accumulating credits and passing Regents exams

·       Student Achievement: student performance on the State tests in English and math, course pass rates, and graduation rates after four and six years

·       School Environment: parent, student and teacher satisfaction levels with the school’s learning environment, as reported in the NYC School Survey

·       Closing the Achievement Gap: significant gains with English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students who scored in the lowest third citywide on State tests last year

·       College and Career Readiness: for high schools, student readiness for college and careers, based on their achievements in high school and their outcomes after leaving high school

The School Quality Guide also introduces a new rating system based on unique school-specific targets set for each school that connect to how a school is rated the following school year. These targets provide clear and realistic goals for schools and support school leaders in planning and improvement efforts.


2013-14 School Quality Report Results


This year’s results show that more students are ready for college and careers than ever before:

·       The percentage of students who graduated with a Regents Diploma and met CUNY’s standards for college readiness in English and math is up 1 point since last year, from 31 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2014.

·       46 percent of the class of 2014 successfully completed courses and exams that will prepare them for college and careers, like Advanced Placement and the SAT, compared to 44 percent in the previous year. 

·       51 percent of the class of 2013 enrolled in a two- or four-year college, vocational program, or public service program after graduation, compared to 50 percent of the previous cohort.


The results for elementary and middle schools also showed significant gains in both student achievement and student progress: 

·       In 2014, 34 percent of students met proficiency standards in math, up from 30 percent last year, while 28 percent of students met the standards in English, up from 26 percent last year. 

·       The percentage of students scoring at level 1 (the lowest level of proficiency) in both math and English also decreased from 37 percent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2014 for math and 36 percent in 2013 to 35 percent in 2014 in English.

“These results highlight the rigorous and complex work of our schools,” said Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg. “I urge school communities to use the rich and nuanced data available in these reports in their planning processes. These conversations will enable us to build upon the progress we are already making in our school system.”


“We’re encouraged that the DOE is finally moving away from letter grades. This one-dimensional measure, based largely on a single test score, gave parents a grossly imprecise picture of school performance,” said Felicia Alexander, a parent leader from Brooklyn Movement Center and member of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice. “Parents need a range of information in order to make the best decisions for their children. The Snapshot begins to do that by documenting parent and teacher satisfaction, student preparation, and how well a school supports high-need students.  We look forward to working with the DOE to further improve the comprehensiveness of the Snapshot and its usefulness for families.”


“The School Quality Snapshot gives a holistic picture of a school, and that's what parents and educators need to be informed,” said Paula Cunningham, principal of P.S. 117 J. Keld/Briarwood School. “Our schools are there to meet the whole educational needs of every child, and it just didn't make sense for school communities to have access to a single letter grade but not understand how the school was doing in meeting important needs of their children. Now, our schools can demonstrate important elements of a good school like progress, parent satisfaction, emphasis on teacher quality, and professional development. This new document is going to benefit parents, students, and educators alike.”


“Educators have long known that there's more to schools than a single letter grade, and the new School Quality Snapshot really captures that,” said Beth Grater, principal of P.S. 205 Clarion. “Finally, parents are getting to learn about the important strengths of our schools that go beyond a single letter grade and test scores – how  challenging and engaging our curricula are, how much we help all our students improve. This is a real victory for educators, parents, and students and is going to help us all better understand our schools and make decisions in the future.”


This school year, the NYCDOE will continue its work to improve upon the School Quality Reports by seeking feedback from families and educators in order to ensure that, going forward, the reports continue to provide useful information in a user-friendly and digestible format. Already, reflecting its commitment to engaging parents and families, the NYCDOE has begun to conduct trainings for parent coordinators, parent leaders, and families about the Snapshot and will continue these efforts in the upcoming weeks through workshops and presentations available at the Chancellor’s parent conferences this month and in December, and at the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council meeting this month. The NYCDOE will also continue to align the School Quality Snapshot and School Quality Guide to the Capacity Framework.


More information about the School Quality reports, including reports for individual schools and training materials, can be found at: http://schools.nyc.gov/Accountability/tools/report/default.htm




Contact:  Chancellor’s Press Office (212) 374-5141