First of all, check out this InsideSchools story about the report card release. It highlights some interesting tidbits from the progress reports, like the fact that the top five schools are all small schools founded under Klein's chancellorship. Schools like Bard and Stuyvesant find themselves ranking lower than schools that have less of what we might call traditional academic success. I'm not saying that progress with the neediest students doesn't count; it does, and it should count for a lot. But the report cards, as they stand, remain counterintuitive and confusing to many people, including parents, because of their heavy emphasis on "student progress" (as measured by only a few factors) to the exclusion of that which is more difficult to measure.
The comments on the InsideSchools story tell you a lot. As one parent suggests, "if they're going to give schools 'report cards,' then they should be like REAL report cards, with grades in several categories." The parent goes on to suggest that, in addition to the current categories, the schools should be graded by subject area so parents can easily see, for example, credit accumulation and Regents scores by subject. It's only one suggestion, and a debatable one, but still, change certainly seems to be in order. If the comments at InsideSchools are any indication, parents as much as teachers can be confused and dismayed by what they see on the Progress Reports.
So I'm not getting too worked up about the A. I'm not sure if it stands for what I think it should, or tells me or anyone what we really need to know about schools. We'll see if any changes are afoot, though I'm not going to hold my breath.