Two parents whose children attend highly regarded progressive public schools were shocked to learn that Commissioner MaryEllen Elia had approved a plan in which their schools are rated failing.


The Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies (BCS) and Central Park East One (CPE1) are the public schools where we send our children.

They’re excellent schools, well known for their progressive practices and their history of supporting the whole child. Both are schools in “good standing, high performing and high impact,” according to city’s Department of Education standards. Because of their student outcomes and enriching environments for diverse learners, hundreds of students apply for spots in these schools…Yet a week ago, parents learned that the state’s Education Department put both BCS and CPE1 on its new list of 124 supposedly struggling schools, designating them as among the worst schools in the entire state….

First, let’s look at how New York State measures our schools. Elementary and middle schools are assessed with five “indicators.”
Four of these five are essentially different ways of describing state standardized test scores. The fifth measure targets chronic absenteeism, which is strongly correlated with larger systemic inequalities and is more likely to affect schools serving students from low-income families.
When will we measure whether a school meets state mandates for art and music? How small (or large) class sizes are? The number of guidance counselors and sports teams available? Whether there is a library?
Three-quarters of BCS sixth- through eighth-graders and 80% of CPE1’s third-through fifth-graders boycotted the state’s English and math exams last year.


No, their schools are not failing. But the New York State Education Department is.