Friday, September 12, 2008

Brooklyn Heights P.S. 8 Caught in DOE Statistical Nightmare

Those who have been protesting the Department of Education's arcane method of computing a school's "report card" now have something new to howl about -- and it's a doozy.

P.S. 8, the little school in Brooklyn Heights which has transformed itself from a failing school into one of the hottest schools in Brooklyn, is about to get an "F" on its school report card, according to a report in the New York Times.

Apparently, the letter grades are based on a complicated formula that gives the most weight to students’ progress from one year to the next. There were many complaints last year when high performing schools got low marks, but P.S. 8 could be "the most highly regarded and popular school to receive an F," the Times said.

The Mayor and the Chancellor have praised P.S. 8 to the hilt since a gargantuan effort by Principal Seth Phillips and his staff, the parents, the community and the Brooklyn Heights Association made the school into a place where kids love to learn. P.S. 8 is so popular now that an annex has to be built.

UPDATE: According to the Brooklyn Eagle, a quirk of the DOE's methodology may have made the school's score appear to be worse than it was.

"One particular quirk of the grading system, in addition, may have been disadvantageous to P.S. 8. DOE’s scoring method compares school performance to their 'peer groups.' . . . P.S. 8, being a school in transition, actually has two demographic groups: the older students who took the tests, and the younger students who flocked to the school after its change of administration several years ago . . . This unusual demographic may indicate that the scores of P.S. 8’s high-needs children were being unfairly compared to the scores of a peer group made up of more affluent children."

In Brooklyn, Low Grades for a School of Success NY Times

Heights School: Well Liked by Neighbors, F From City Brooklyn Eagle

- Brooklyn Heights' P.S. 8 Gets Its Porta-Classroom
- Put Middle School in Brooklyn Heights' P.S. 8, Says Yassky
- Brooklyn Heights' Booming P.S. 8 to Get a New Building

Photo (showing preparations for a mobile classroom in overcrowded PS 8 schoolyard) by MK Metz

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