Though Others Maintain The Bloomberg Approach With Letter Grades Should Remain

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is overhauling the way it rates schools.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina announced a new ranking system that will de-emphasize test scores and do away with the letter grades imposed by the Bloomberg administration.

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“Schools have unique qualities that cannot be captured in a letter grade. They are not restaurants,” Farina said during a press conference Wednesday in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, teachers union president Michael Mulgrew, as well as many parents, have called the old system too simplistic.

“The letter grade was not telling you what the school really was about. (It) was just telling you about performance on a standardized test score and nothing else,” Mulgrew told reporters, including CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

“It wasn’t very helpful. Some schools were doing great work, but it may not have been reflected through test scores,” parent Natasha Capers added.

De Blasio has long criticized the letter grade system and said the new system will “support schools and raise achievement.”

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“This is the change we need to hold our schools accountable and help every student excel. And it shows that when you have a life-long educator at the helm of our schools, we get policies that work for students, families and teachers,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are proud to be moving City schools in this new direction.”

The trend in society has been to help people separate the good from the bad. You can “like” something on Facebook or “favorite” it on Twitter. City restaurants, of course, have letter grades posted right near the front door. So, not everyone is against the Bloomberg administration approach.

“It puts pressure on the principals and the teachers to make sure that their schools are graded properly,” said restaurant owner Prakash Hundalani, whose establishment received an “A” grade from the city.

“It got straight to the point,” added parent Mary Melendez of Washington Heights, “It might not be the best way, but it is a simpler way for us to know.”

Instead of basing progress almost solely on test scores, Farina said the new school quality guide will provide a comprehensive analysis of each school and its curriculum.

“We will create a school culture where value and respect exist across the system among teachers, principals, staff, the DOE and families,” Farina said. “This is a new era in education in New York City. We are no longer forcing change on people; we’re creating change with people.”

Farina promised new data on school performance by the end of the school year.

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