By Nicole Bode and Mariel Clark
Close to half of Manhattan’s public high schools earned an A on overall performance this year, according to new rankings released Monday by the city’s Education Department.
Forty-five of the borough’s 94 public and charter high schools included on the 2008-2009 annual School Progress Reports earned the top score, followed by 15 schools that received Bs and 13 with Cs. No Manhattan high schools failed on the report.
Some schools made significant jumps, including the Manhattan Theater Lab, on the Upper West Side, which leapt from an F in 2007–2008 to a B this year.
Washington Irving High School, near Union Square, also made a jump - from an F to a C, as did Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School in Chelsea.
Other schools slipped, including the University Neighborhood High School, on the Lower East Side, which slid from a B to a D.
The Academy of Environmental Science Secondary High School in East Harlem dipped from a C to a D. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School in Hell's Kitchen went from a B to a C.
Fifteen high schools earned no grades, because they were too new to have a graduating class — the basis for the rankings, according to a DOE spokesman. Bayard Rustin Education Complex, in Chelsea, earned an F last year, but got no grade this year because it's slated to close, the spokesman said.
“We continue to see more high school students making progress toward graduation and more students meeting the milestone of graduation, which is exactly what we want to see and exactly what the high school Progress Reports are intended to reward,” Education Department Chancellor Joel Klein said in a statement.
“High school Progress Reports continue to serve as a useful tool for parents and other stakeholders—especially for families of eighth graders who are deciding where to apply to high school.”
The Education Department has come under fire in the past for ranking too many schools with top grades. Last year, 82 per cent of secondary schools citywide earned As or Bs.
This year, the DOE and the principal's union said they raised the bar.
“The criteria for the high school progress reports are very complex and were made more stringent this year. We’re proud of our school members for trying so hard to meet this new challenge,” Council of School Supervisors and Administrators Executive Vice President Peter McNally said in a statement.
Some school experts cautioned against reading too much into the rankings.
“It’s alarmist on both ends, both sides,” said Pamela Wheaton of Advocates for Children, which runs the school-grading website InsideSchools.org.
“I think it’s too simplistic to give a school a grade, it could be a statistics thing. I don’t know how many parents read the fine print.”