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NYC’s Top 10 Elementary Schools By Test Scores: What Makes Them Special – And How You Can Get In

New York State released their 2017 standardized public school test scores in August, and New York City led the pack.

We take a look at the top ten achievers, and explore whether we can find an instructional magic bullet among them:

Rank: 1

School Name: Special Music School

Average Standard Score: 99.7

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 16.2

Student/Teacher Ratio: 13.4

Admissions: Over 650 children from across the city audition for 15 Kindergarten spots. They are assessed only for musical potential, not academic.

What Makes It Special: A public/private partnership where students receive musical instruction.

Bonus: How Unzoned Schools Are Held To Different Standards

Rank: 2

School Name: NEST+M

Average Standard Score: 99.6

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 28.1

Student/Teacher Ratio: 18.8

Admissions: Applicants must score above the 97th percentile on the public school G&T test, but demand far exceeds supply, so students are chosen by lottery, with two-thirds of qualified Kindergarteners shut out.

What Makes It Special: The only public K-12 Gifted & Talented school. (Hunter College is also a gifted K-12, but is not a public school.)

Bonus: A mom who managed to get her child in for 1st grade!

Rank: 3

School Name: TAG Young Scholars

Average Standard Score: 99.5

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 50.2

Student/Teacher Ratio: 24.4

Admissions: Same as NEST+M, though it’s Upper Manhattan location makes it less popular and slightly easier to get into.

What Makes It Special: The most racially and socio-economically diverse of the citywide G&T schools.

Bonus: How to raise your odds of getting into G&T

Rank: 4

School Name: The Anderson School

Average Standard Score: 99.5

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 9.8

Student/Teacher Ratio: 19.7

Admissions: Same as NEST+M and TAG

What Makes It Special: The most popular of the Citywide G&Ts, Anderson rarely has room for students who score below the 99th percentile, unless they’re siblings.

Bonus: Should you send your child to G&T before they turn 5 years old?

Rank: 5

School Name: The 30th Avenue School

Average Standard Score: 99.5

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 25.6

Student/Teacher Ratio: 14.6

Admissions: Same as NEST+M, TAG and Anderson

What Makes It Special: The only Citywide Accelerated G&T in Queens

Bonus: The difference between public and private gifted schools

Rank: 6

School Name: Lower Lab

Average Standard Score: 99.5

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 4.9

Student/Teacher Ratio: 18.2

Admissions: Open to children in District 2 who score above the 90th percentile, its popularity means that only those who score in the 99th percentile (excepting siblings) have a chance of getting in via lottery.

What Makes It Special: One of the few District G&Ts that’s its own school.

Bonus: The difference between a District G&T and a General Ed program

Rank: 7

School Name: Beacon School of Excellence

Average Standard Score: 99.4

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 87.4

Student/Teacher Ratio: 12.9

Admissions: A local school that, on occasion, has room for out of zone families.

What Makes It Special: The top school in Brooklyn, it doesn’t screen students.

Bonus: How to apply to a school that’s outside your zone via Kindergarten Connect

Rank: 8

School Name: Success Academy Charter School – Bedford-Stuyvesant 

Average Standard Score: 99.4

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 80.8

Student/Teacher Ratio: 16

Rank: 9

School Name: Success Academy Charter School – Crown Heights

Average Standard Score: 99.3

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 83.1

Student/Teacher Ratio: 16.8

Rank: 10

School Name: Success Academy Charter School – Cobble Hill

Average Standard Score: 99.2

% of Students Classified Free/Reduced Lunch: 46.3

Student/Teacher Ratio: 15.1

Admissions: Lottery, with priority to respective district residents

What Makes Them Special: Despite the fact that Success Academies don’t screen their students, the above three, as well as seven more, outscored the selective, citywide, accelerated Brooklyn School of Inquiry, which ranked #23.

Bonus: The Success Academy network made their literacy curriculum publically available for all.

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So what can we learn from these top performers?

At first glance, it would seem that being a school that evaluates children for admission is key. But how, then, to explain the Success Academies and Beacon School of Excellence, which take all comers but manage to achieve the same results, and even outscore dozens of schools with G&T programs?

Especially when those schools also report the largest number of Free and Reduced Lunch kids? Having an affluent student body obviously helps when it comes to test scores (and outside test prep). But it clearly doesn’t tell the whole story.

Is the secret smaller class-size, then, like some activists suggest?

Not when the largest classes can be found at the #3 ranked school. The lowest Student/Teacher ratio on the list does belong to the highest-ranked non-G&T school, though, so that may partially account for their success.

(However, the highest ranked non-NYC school on the list is #11, the Robert Seaman School in Jericho, NY. Its Student/Teacher ratio is 9.5 but that didn’t help it break into the Top 10.)

Unfortunately, it would seem that there is no single magic bullet to be found on this list.

What do you think makes a school high-scoring? Strong leadership? School culture? Teacher training, or any of the other factors mentioned here? Tell us in the Comments!

 

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