New York School Quality Index

The New York School Quality Index is based on the most recent data (2015-16) from the New York State Education Department's Report Card Database.

The Index uses a combination of five factors to assign a score from 0 to 100 to each of the 4,742 public schools in New York state. The median score is 77.5; schools in the 90th percentile got a score of 88.7 or higher, while the bottom 10 percent of schools are at 58.2 or lower. High schools tend to score lower than elementary schools.

Five factors (attendance, suspensions, class size, teacher experience and diversity) are rated from 0 to 10 to generate the overall School Quality Index for each school.

Here’s a look at each rating factor, with an explanation of how it is calculated:

Attendance: Research shows that 95 percent average daily attendance is a meaningful threshold for school quality. Schools get a perfect 10 points if attendance is 95 percent or higher, and lose one point for each percentage point beneath that.

Suspensions: A high suspension rate means students are missing class time, and it may also point to the staff struggling to control students. A suspension rate of zero gets a perfect score; schools lose half a point for each point above that. The attendance and suspension sub-indices are weighed somewhat more heavily than the other three categories. They tend to disadvantage secondary schools compared to elementary schools.

Class size: There are two ways of measuring class size from state data, neither of them perfect. The state provides class sizes for some levels, but it doesn't cover all schools, and they don't always seem accurate. Separately, one can divide the number of students by the number of teachers. This measure combines those two methods — for each school, the quotient of (students/teachers) is multiplied by half the median difference between the two measures on a statewide level. Some research on the benefits of small class sizes sets 17 students as the upper bound of the definition. A ratio of 17 students per teacher or lower gets a perfect score, with one point deducted for every point above that.
Teacher experience: Ideally, a school will have both a solid core of veteran teachers as well as a steady stream of new teachers, balancing energy and experience. A school gets a perfect score if between 10 and 25 percent of its teachers have less than three years' experience in the field. One point is deducted for every percentage point above 25 percent or below 10 percent. The lower bound for a school with exclusively veteran teachers is a score of 5 points.

Diversity: State data shows how many students fall into six demographic categories: American Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic, multiracial and white. This index is based on how predominant the largest racial or ethnic group is in each school. If the largest group is below 50 percent, the school gets a perfect score; that means at least 50 percent of students are something other than the predominant race or ethnicity. One quarter point is deducted for every point above 50 percent. This means that a school with 90 percent students of any one race will receive a score of 0 for diversity.

Notes:

Elementary schools include grades PK-5; middle schools include 6-8; and secondary schools include 9-12. A K-6 school, then, would be listed as both a primary and middle school.
Six schools across the state were removed because of multiple missing data points in the New York State Education Department's Report Card Database.