Elementary School Rankings: How Does Your School Measure Up?

By Julie Shapiro on September 21, 2011 7:50am | Updated on September 21, 2011 11:47am

A teacher in the classroom at the NEST+m school on the Lower East Side. NEST has one of the best pass rates on the fourth grade English Language Arts test of any school in the city.
A teacher in the classroom at the NEST+m school on the Lower East Side. NEST has one of the best pass rates on the fourth grade English Language Arts test of any school in the city.
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nestmk12.net

MANHATTAN — Elementary school test scores rose across the city this year, but each individual school saw its own ups and downs, some making major leaps and others falling behind.

To capture these school-by-school changes, Tom Goodkind, a Downtown accountant and community leader, weighed the test results to create his annual ranking of all 743 elementary schools in the city.

Specifically, Goodkind sorted the schools based on the percentage of fourth graders who received a passing grade — a 3 or a 4 — on the state's English Language Arts test, which is a key factor in competitive middle school admissions.

As in past years, the top schools in Goodkind's rankings are the ones that are highly selective about the students they accept into kindergarten.

The Upper West Side's Anderson School, which admits only gifted students, captured the No. 1 spot in the ranking, with every single fourth grader passing the English Language Arts test. In fact, not a single fourth grader at Anderson has failed the ELA test in the past five years.

Another gifted-and-talented school that has consistently done well is the Lower East Side's New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math.

This year, 101 out of NEST's 102 fourth graders passed the English Language Arts test.

NEST Principal Olga Livanis said she was pleased with her school's results.

"We work very hard to have our students succeed," Livanis said. "That's what it's all about."

However, Livanis said her teachers do not emphasize testing, but rather prepare students through creative, intensive lessons that consistently build their reading, writing and vocabulary skills.

"Our focus is about learning — it's not about teaching to the test," Livanis said.

Not all of the top-ranked schools required special admissions test.

The East Village Community School, which accepts a diverse mix of students, saw a dramatic improvement in test scores this year, with 86 percent of fourth graders passing the ELA, compared to just 46 percent last year.

Tom Goodkind, Downtown accountant, ranked Manhattan's elementary schools.
Tom Goodkind, Downtown accountant, ranked Manhattan's elementary schools.
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Tom Goodkind

Zoned neighborhood schools that have consistently done well — and ranked in the top 40 this year — include Chinatown's Shuang Wen School, Greenwich Village's P.S. 41, the Upper East Side's P.S. 6 and TriBeCa's P.S. 234.

At the other end of the spectrum, 11 Manhattan schools, mostly in Harlem, saw fewer than 20 percent of their fourth graders pass the English Language Arts test.

Goodkind advised that parents who live in those school's zones either consider moving or applying to gifted and talented programs, like the ones at Anderson and NEST, which accept children from all across the city.

"This ranking alone should not be used in choosing the right Manhattan neighborhood to raise children, but it is helpful," Goodkind said.

Robin Aronow, an educational consultant for the past 12 years, said some selective middle schools use fourth-grade test scores as a way of narrowing their applicant pool and deciding which candidates to interview.

Still, Aronow urged parents to consider many factors, including test scores, the school environment and the PTA, when deciding which elementary school is right for their children.

"The scores are important," said Aronow, founder of School Search NYC. "But I don't think they are the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to how schools are doing."

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