It will be interesting to see what kind of school grading and accountability system, if any, is re-introduced to New Yorkers in the days to come. The new administration has gone on record saying they will do away with the current system, which gives schools A-F grades. I, for one, would be shocked if the system is abandoned altogether. Interestingly, the administration has taken a hardened position against the current system, so it will be interesting to see how a “new, improved” system will be positioned once it’s released. And it will be. What a shame it would be to take a step back to the days when families had nearly no measures of school accountability.
Despite its problems, families throughout the city have come to rely on this system to provide a so-called reliable, apples-to-apples measure of a school’s performance and progress. I am not a school accountability expert, but I do know what families tell me, and I have a pretty good idea of what they find useful.
Middle school families, in particular, have come to rely on this system (and in my many discussions with them, refer to it all the time) for help with evaluating high schools as part of the daunting high school admissions process. In fact, I would argue that families, desperate for transparency and simple ways to compare and contrast schools, would call published school grades one of the few, “objective” barometers they have to go by. Thus their introduction – and enhanced detail over time – within the infamous but necessary high school directory. In my countless discussions with families over the years, I can’t tell you how many talk about school grades and use them as a basis for decisions.
Is the current system perfect? Of course not. Is some kind of transparent grading system necessary? Yes. Let’s hope that when a revamped version is introduced, it will not only be more effective for the city and its principals, but it will be simple and useful enough for families, as well. Otherwise, the city will miss a huge opportunity to seize its newfound “transparency” with parents.