During the Bloomberg years, the Department of Education has had a public relations staff that declared major successes whenever a new idea is launched, without waiting to see how things worked out. It is always good to be willing to try new ideas, but it is even better to withhold judgment until they have had time to prove themselves. But that has not been the New York City way these past dozen years.

One such well-heralded school is called the New American Academy, which opened in 2010, founded by Shimon Waronker, an Orthodox Jew who had studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and graduated from Mayor Bloomberg’s prized Leadership Academy. The school received extensive, often fawning press coverage. The big idea was to have 60 students in the same classroom with four teachers. It would be a new model of schooling, somewhat like the “bullpens” where Mayor Bloomberg’s employees work, in open cubicles rather than individual offices. It would replace the 19th century Prussian model of one teacher in one classroom with a large roomful of youngsters and four teachers. Its founder predicted that he would have 50 such schools open by 2012.

The press was intrigued. The New York Times heralded the opening of the school with its bold new concept, though with a hint of skepticism characteristic of the reporter Sharon Otterman, who was unimpressed by the noise and disorder. Nonetheless, she made clear that this was one of the models that education officials were excited about. The New York Post wrote an admiring article. David Brooks, always fast to see a big story in the making, called it “the relationship school,” and described it in glowing terms as akin to “the networked collaborative of today.” He hedged a bit at the end of his article, saying that it was too soon to say if it would work, but he made clear his admiration for the boldness of the scheme and its leader.

Alas, too soon the praise. Rachel Monahan of the New York Daily News reports that only 2 of its 22 students who took the Common Core tests in reading and math managed to pass. The city halted its plans to expand the school to a middle school. Worse, “more than half of the first class, which started with 40 first-graders three years ago, are no longer enrolled or weren’t promoted to the fourth grade, city stats show.” Although the city withdrew its plan to expand this school, two similar prototypes have already been approved. Undaunted by the test scores and the attrition rate, teachers and parents say they are enthusiastic about the new school.