In 2006-07, New York City, the largest school district in the United States, decided it would follow several other school systems in adopting a progress report program. Under its program, the city grades schools from A to F according to an accumulating point system based on the weighted average of measurements of school environment, students’ performance, and students’ academic progress.
The implementation of these progress reports has not been without controversy. While many argue that they inform parents about public school quality and encourage schools to improve, others contend that grades lower morale at low-performing schools. To date there has been too little empirical information about the program’s effectiveness to settle these questions.
This paper incorporates student-level data in a regression-discontinuity design to study the impact of a school’s receipt of a particular grade – A, B, C, D, or F — on student proficiency in math and English one year later.
The main findings of the paper are as follows:
- Students in schools earning an F grade made overall improvements in math the following year, though these improvements occurred primarily among fifth-graders.
- Students in F-graded schools did no better or worse in English than students in schools that were not graded F.