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Three UWS Schools Receive F Grades on DOE Progress Reports

By Emily Frost | November 21, 2013 5:11pm
 These schools will not be closed, however, said the district's principal. 
Three UWS Schools Get F Grades from DOE
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A trio of Upper West Side public schools received failing grades on their most recent progress reports from the Department of Education.

An elementary school, P.S. 145/The Bloomingdale School, and two high schools, Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts and the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, received F grades in their 2013 progress reports, the DOE said.

The progress report measures schools against their peers in terms of student performance and progress, as well as college readiness. 

For P.S. 145, the report showed a drop of two full letter grades from its 2012 progress report. The West 105th Street school has received a federal magnet grant since 2010 and used it to build a multimedia focus. Students as early as pre-K participate in computer classes there, parents said.

The arts-oriented Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts — which shares a building with the combined middle and high school Frederick Douglass Academy II, as well as the charter middle school Success Academy Harlem West — also dropped from a C in 2012 to an F this year.

The Urban Assembly for Green Careers' failing grade is its first grade from the DOE since opening in 2008 on West 84th Street in the Brandeis Campus.

The school is focused on preparing students for college and moving them directly into careers in "design, construction and operation of green buildings, or development and maintenance of green spaces," according to the school's site.

"Schools that received an F are having what’s called 'quality conversations,'" District 3 Superintendent Ilene Altschul told the district's Community Education Council Wednesday.

These conversations involve the entire staff and school community "talk[ing] about what is working and what isn’t," she said.

The conversation within the school and at the DOE "is not about closing," Altschul said.

"It is purely to make progress and to identify areas where they can improve."

Joe Fiordaliso, CEC president, said he was happy with framing the progress reports as looking to the future.

"I was encouraged to hear [Wadleigh Principal Tyee Chin] say that the conversation with the DOE is moving toward improvement rather than closure," he said. "It’s especially poignant coming from one of our principals… that’s definitely the preference of this council."

At P.S. 145, Altschul said she believed the introduction of Natalia Garcia as the new principal would help its performance.

"We’re very hopeful because there is new leadership," she said. "We are feeling very confident."

But board members wanted to pinpoint why P.S. 145 had suffered such a shift in its grade.

CEC member J. Conrad Fagan wondered why the school had dropped despite receiving a federal grant, while acknowledging that its principal did retire in the middle of the year.

"Why such a dramatic shift?" he asked.

Altschul admitted that the "drastic decline" could have resulted from "a need to have a leadership change."

Fagan said he worried about the ability of schools to recover and do better on state tests now that they are known as failing schools.

"What happens when schools get these bad reviews is that they become dumping grounds," he said.

Principals at all three schools did not respond to requests for comment.