High marks in final Bloomberg progress report

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Infographic </a><figcaption id=Infographic by Yash Sharma.

THHS ranked in the 97th percentile among New York City public high schools for its 2012-2013 Progress Report, which was the highest percentile it has yet achieved. The school received an overall score of 88.5 out of 100, scoring an “A” in all categories.  Compared to last year, THHS scored 5.7 points higher in Student Progress, 1.3 points higher in School Environment, and 5.2 points higher in its overall score.

Principal Anthony Barbetta attributes this success to the students’ and staff’s commitment to learning.

“Parents are very instrumental also,” he adds.

The evaluation was based largely on standardized test scores, school surveys, graduation rates, and course credit accumulation. For the first time, however, the percentage of students from the high school still enrolled in college after three semesters was also a component of a high school’s College and Career Readiness grade.

Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski both agrees and disagrees with this addition. Although he is confident that THHS prepared its students for college and feels a school should be held accountable for this factor, he does not think a high school should be judged for a student’s future personal decisions.

“You are judging how a kid does in college and we don’t have control over it,” he said.

He adds that there might be legitimate reasons why a student may drop out of college, which the high school will then be negatively affected by.

“I’m not sure whether the [progress report’s] metrics are a good way to measure what ways [students] are ready for careers and college,” adds Mr. Barbetta.

However, as Bill de Blasio steps into the shoes of Mayor Michael Bloomberg next month, the A through F letter-grading system, which was established in 2007, is likely to come to an end. Although Mr. de Blasio said he would continue producing school progress reports, he plans to end the system of giving overall letter grades to a school, claiming that they don’t accurately represent a school’s performance and should be more refined.

There are pros and cons to ending the system.

Ellen Fee, Assistant Principal of Organization, Health, and Physical Education, likes the letter-grading system for organizing the data into different categories under one grade.

Mr. Barbetta notes that a positive result of ending the letter grading system is that schools can focus on themselves without having to worry about competition.

“We won’t be so heavily reliant on data,” he adds. “Hopefully there will be an easier way for the public to view a school’s success.”

Mr. Olechowski agrees, and feels that assigning a single letter grade to a school is not a sufficient representation of it.

“[The letter grading system] is oversimplifying a very complicated system of metrics,” he said.

He adds that another con of the letter-grading system is the fact that the data represented by the letter grade is “stored in a very obscure place on the Internet,” making it inaccessible for many parents

“In short, it’s better to have a very compromised abbreviation of this complex system than have none at all,” concluded Mr. Olechowski. “There’s got to be a better option.”

Mr. Barbetta also notes that with the end of THHS may lose the “visible success” represented by the letter grade.

Despite these changes, Mr. Barbetta praises the students for making this improvement possible. “We’ve had a great chemistry of students that really excel,” he said.