Good reports for NYC schools

In the Big Apple, it's not only students who get report cards - the schools themselves are evaluated each year as well. Although these appraisals may not be affixed to refrigerators around the boroughs, many local school officials might wish they would be. People who own real estate in New York, NY, will likely be encouraged by the results of this year's ratings.

With an impressively high response rate - nearly 100,000 participants in all - the city's system received relatively high grades and improved over previous years in many important categories, according to the NYC Department of Education.

In evaluating their children's specific school, 94 percent of parents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the education their sons and daughters received. The same percentage said they were happy with the level of involvement in their kids' education.

Students also gave their schools higher marks than they had in the past. In terms of the safety of the schools' hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms, 82 percent of pupils agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they felt secure.

Teachers showed similar increases in their approval of their workplaces. In regard to the statement, "My school helps students find the best ways to achieve their learning goals," 88 percent of teachers either agreed or strongly agreed.

Overall, across the four major categories - academic expectations, communication, engagement and safety and respect - parents, students and teachers all gave higher ratings in 2012 than they did in 2011, with the single exception of the teachers' average rating for academic expectations dropping from 7.8 out of 10 to 7.7.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made improving education one of his top priorities, and the recently released report card seems to suggest that he has been largely successful. Bloomberg has also advocated for merit-based pay for teachers, which he believes would raise standards for teacher performance as well as expectations placed on students for learning.

As a possible indication that his push for higher standards is on the right track, one of the highest rankings expressed on the report card related to students' efforts. When given the statement, "I need to work hard to get good grades at my school," 95 percent of students agreed or strongly agreed. In fact, the positive responses to this question have increased in each of the last four years.