District 21 in good standing

The Brooklyn Paper
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School District 21 is in the clear.

“We are no longer a ‘District in Need of Improvement.’ We are a ‘District in Good Standing,’” Community Superintendent Ann Marie Lettieri-Baker announced at a recent meeting of the local Community Education Council (CEC).

The district, which includes Coney Island and Bensonhurst, received the new designation from the state Education Department thanks to a boost in students’ scores on standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams.

Those test results helped District 21 schools earn high grades on the city Department of Education’s (DOE) annual school report cards, also known as progress reports.

“There are no C, D or F’s in District 21,” Lettieri-Baker said.

However, the integrity of the progress report grades has been questioned. That’s because many of the city’s public schools recorded significantly higher grades this year than last. According to the DOE, 84 percent of city schools earned an A, a 38 percent increase from last year. Approximately 13 percent of schools earned a B this year.

One Brooklyn principal reportedly credited the high scores to “absurdly easy” standardized tests and was quoted as saying, “You fundamentally have to question any system that gives 98 percent of schools A’s and B’s.”

The DOE says it set the criteria for A, B, C, D and F grades last fall. Many schools received an A because their students excelled on English and math exams and “really blew away a lot of the targets that we set,” according to a rep.

Department officials plan to increase standards next year, which could cause more fluctuations in progress report grades.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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