Date: 1/25/2005 12:38:56 PM Eastern Standard Time
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Date: 2005/01/25 Tue AM 11:06:05 CST
To: "Klein Joel DOE Update"
Subject: News from NYC Department of Education
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Published by The New York City Department of Education
This year, new as it is, has been filled with encouraging news for New York City's public school children. Our schools are safer, student achievement is climbing, and we are finding ways to upgrade school buildings to the highest standards at the same time we are making limited funding go further.
Thanks to the School Safety Initiative inaugurated twelve months ago, major crime is down 43% in the 16 Impact Schools, and overall crime in these schools is down 33% from a year ago. Five Impact Schools have improved so much that they are being phased off the list. Drawing on lessons learned about assessing safety, we are now providing extra support to six schools that have been added to the Impact Schools list. The Citywide school safety task force of uniformed police officers and supervisors will expand from 150 members to 200 to help these schools.
A second major achievement was reflected in the State's announcement this month that the number of NYC schools identified as Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) - those that are in danger of being closed for low student achievement levels - has dropped to an all-time low of 35. In 1997, New York City had 104 SURR schools. The number has declined 55% over the last three years and 24% from a year ago.
The Department of Education (DOE) has also signed two historic labor agreements that will save $500 million in school construction costs over the next five years and assure quality work at the same time. This will help us create new schools and opportunities for our children in a more cost-effective way than ever before.
Finally, I am proud of the way that the school children of New York City quickly opened their young hearts to help survivors of the tsunami disaster with fundraising drives. To coordinate their spontaneous efforts, we have launched the Tsunami Relief Fund.
Looking ahead, we are working to consolidate and expand the gains we have made under Children First. As the Mayor announced in his State of the City address, next September we will offer a "Learning to Work" program designed for overage under-credited students. "Learning to Work" will combine internships and paid work with existing programs that help such students earn diplomas or GEDs. At the same time, we will launch enrichment programs for students in schools that have historically lacked programs for gifted and talented youngsters.
With 1.1 million students in over 1,300 schools, we have a diverse student body with diverse needs. We are making strides in helping each child meet his or her potential.
Joel I. Klein
Spotlight on: School Safety Improvements
Sometimes the hardest thing to change is a reputation. In recent years, Washington Irving High School had acquired a reputation as one of New York City's most dangerous schools. Last year the Department of Education designated it as an Impact School, one of 16 that received extra safety agents and support to address safety and security issues. But these days, the halls, classes and entryways at Washington Irving tell a different story.
As Principal Denise DiCarlo walks the halls between periods, all the students move from room to room with relaxed purpose. One pair of girls practices a step dance pattern with focused intensity, but the two still go directly into their classroom. There is a strict no hat policy here, and as a tall, skinny boy passes Principal DiCarlo with the hood of his sweatshirt up, all she has to do is tap her head for him to pull it down automatically. The school is filled with this feeling: a giant well-oiled engine humming in low gear.
After Principal DiCarlo surveys the floors of the building, she peeks into several classrooms where students are creating an original opera, others are designing and making clothes, and yet others are studying to earn their International Baccalaureate degree. She reveals what has made the difference at Washington Irving. Is it SWAT team techniques, lock downs, maybe patrolling with a bullhorn? No.
"We received more safety agents, but that's only part of the answer. It's more a matter of organization and insisting on the little things. If a student is chronically disruptive in class or has shown a consistent pattern of cutting classes, he or she will get a suspension. If they are consistently late to school, they'll get detention." As she walks down a set of stairs, she hears loud screaming. Not to worry - it turns out to be two teams of floor hockey players neatly lined up along the walls of the gym, cheering for players scrambling after an orange puck.
She moves on to talk with the sergeant in charge of the safety agents, giving him a heads-up on a drama that is unfolding among a clique of girls. "The consequences for every rule are clear, and because we communicate constantly with our deans and safety agents, those rules are always enforced, and soon students realize that it just isn't worth it to act out."
This message is echoed by Ernie Oliveri, the Assistant Principal for Administration, who runs the safety system at the school. "We have set aside space in the auditorium for students to go immediately after an infraction. We make sure no kid has an electronic device of any kind. We post deans in the halls who have a clear role: crowd control." Underlining the rigor of the system he outlines, a chair in Dr. Oliveri's office is filled with about fifteen hats - the day's take. "All these small things add up to a culture. We establish a regime of order for learning, and soon all the students become a part of that culture."
This kind of order is at the heart of the Impact Schools effort. Last January, school safety intervention teams composed of experts from the Department of Education and New York City Police Department, as well as community representatives, conducted thorough assessments of key conditions and procedures at all 16 Impact Schools. Guided by a "best practices" document, the intervention teams focused on more than 100 variables including entry and exit procedures, hallway conditions, Discipline Code enforcement, instructional environment, passing between classes, cafeteria environment, facilities, and detention and suspension rooms.
Based upon their reviews, the teams assigned each school an assessment score. Each school then developed a plan focusing on three main areas: intensifying enforcement against low-level crime and disorder; rigorous enforcement of the DOE's Discipline Code; and correcting school conditions conducive to disorder.
When follow-up assessments were conducted in the fall, the teams found dramatic improvements. The percentage of conditions approaching or meeting best practice standards at the 16 schools increased from 16% to 50% and average assessment scores rose 36%. After one year, major crime went down 43% and overall crime was down 33% compared to the same period last year. Five of the original Impact Schools are now being transitioned out of Impact status, including Washington Irving.
"They're a little too strict," says Lovely Luster, a Washington Irving junior who is taking classes to prepare her to be a health teacher. Still, she likes the change that has occurred.
"When I was a freshman, there were three fights a week, probably. But things have slowed way down. It's much calmer now." Asked what people say when she tells them she goes to Washington Irving, she says, "They're like, 'you go to that school?'" Luster laughs. "I have to tell them what it's really like here. It's not like people think at all."
For More Information click here.
Spotlight on: Another Sign of Success
The remarkable reduction of Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) in New York City shows that our Children First reforms are making a difference. The State identifies SURR schools based on the results of Grades 4 and 8 English and Math tests, or the percentage of high school students meeting graduation assessments in English and math. Schools, which are listed because of low student achievement levels, are in jeopardy of being closed.
M.S. 88 in Brooklyn is one of the 16 schools that were just removed from the list this year. Principal Edna Straus attributes the turnaround to improvements such as the new curriculum, literacy and math coaches, and a strong staff of certified teachers. She also credits stronger professional development and shared school leadership.
"Our teachers work and learn together in each others' classrooms. They use the shared prep time to come up with fresh ideas for implementing the citywide reading and math curriculums," Straus says and further emphasizes, "It allows them to explore effective teaching strategies that address the individual needs of students."
Other innovative approaches at M.S. 88 contributed to its success. The school was restructured into small learning communities or "houses"; the staff focused on special education student needs; and teachers offered tutoring help after school. The results of these changes speak for themselves. In 2001, less than 4% of eighth-grade students met State math standards and only 13% met the State reading benchmark. In just three years, the number of students meeting math standards has shot up by a staggering 42 percentage points. While there is still more progress to be made, 39% now are making the mark in reading.
"It's amazing, just amazing the changes that have gone on at M.S. 88," says Suzette Williams, the mother of 8th grader David Williams. She gives credit to the hard-working school staff. "The teachers know how to help the children excel in the classroom and they go out of their way to do so. Principal Straus is always available and encouraging. They've had a wonderful impact on my son and on me."
For more information, click here.
Call To Action
To find out how you can become involved in NYC public schools, contact Jean Desravines at firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Issue
Hot News Update
Message From the Chancellor
Spotlight On: School Safety Improvements
Spotlight On: Another Sign of Success
Six Bronx High School of Science seniors were named as semifinalists in the national Intel Science Talent Search - more than any other school in the City. From left: Nathaniel Lubin, Allison Kline, Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Abba Leffler, Shoshana Leffler, Tai Ho Shin, Milana Zaurova.
Hot News Update
New School Information Fairs
In an effort to offer more quality choices and to increase educational opportunities for incoming high school students, the Department of Education will be opening new small high schools in September. Details of these new options will be announced in early February and New School Information Fairs are scheduled for February 5, 6, 10, 12, and 13. Eighth grade students and their families are encouraged to attend the fairs to learn more about these new schools. Students who are interested in applying to these new high schools must submit their New Schools Choice Form by March 1.
For more information, click here..
Opportunity for Free Tutoring
Over 66,000 children have already signed up for free tutoring through the Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program this school year, more than were registered during all of last year.
Free SES academic assistance programs are still available for a large number of students. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, children are eligible if they:
1) attend a school listed for two years or more as a Title I School in Need of Improvement;
2) qualify for free lunch; and
3) have not yet participated in SES during the current school year.
Parents who have not enrolled their eligible children may do so by contacting the Parent Coordinator at their children's school for a selection form. Applications received by the January 21st deadline will be processed first for programs beginning January 31st, 2005. However, parents should be aware that enrollment is ongoing.
A provider directory, including an addendum with additional SES providers approved by the state and more information on the SES program, is available in 10 languages by clicking here.
Tsunami Relief Fund
New York City public schools are coordinating fundraising efforts for survivors of December's tsunami in Southeast Asia through our own Tsunami Relief Fund. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein teamed up with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), and District Council 37 to launch the Fund on January 7th.
School communities are encouraged to raise funds through events such as bake sales, community concerts, and coin drives. Proceeds collected during the twelve-week drive will be donated to the International Rescue Committee and the American Red Cross in Greater New York. The DOE has requested that the money be dedicated to children and to rebuilding the education infrastructure in the affected areas.
For more information, click here. .
Chancellor Joel I. Klein greets a crowd at a community gathering at the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx. On left, Paul Williams, President of 100 Black Men of NY Inc., CBO partner to Eagle Academy. On right, Jasmine Nickles.
Click here for comprehensive list of schedules and calendars
Grades 9-12: NYS Regents Testing Program
NO SCHOOL for High School Students ONLY
Panel for Educational Policy Meeting at Forest Hills HS, 6pm
High School Spring term begins
Grade 4: NYS English Language Arts Test
Middle school Parent/Teacher afternoon conferences
Middle school Parent/Teacher evening conferences
Learning Support Centers Closed**
Midwinter school recess
Panel for Educational Policy Meeting at the Tweed Building, 6pm
** Regional Learning Support Centers are closed on this date
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