NYC School System Honored as ‘Model of Reform’

NYC School System Honored as ‘Model of Reform’

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New York City public schools have won the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education, a $1 million award honoring the most improved school systems, with the smallest achievement gaps for poor and minority students. The money will go directly to college scholarships for graduating high school seniors.

“If it can be done in New York City, it can be done anywhere,” said Eli Broad (rhymes with road), founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. “The strong leadership by the mayor, the chancellor and a progressive teachers union has allowed a school system the size of New York City to dramatically improve student achievement in a relatively short period of time. Other cities can look to New York as a model of successful urban school district reform.”

Among the reasons the New York school system stood out among large urban school districts:

  • Greater overall performance and improvement. In 2006, New York City outperformed other districts in New York state serving students with similar income levels in reading and math at all grade levels: elementary, middle and high school, according to The Broad Prize methodology. Between 2003 and 2006, New York City also showed greater improvement than other districts in New York state serving students with similar income levels in reading and math at all grade levels, according to The Broad Prize methodology.
  • Greater subgroup performance and improvement. In 2006, each of New York City’s three subgroups — low-income, African-American and Hispanic students — outperformed and showed greater improvement than their peers in similar New York state districts in reading and math at all grade levels, according to The Broad Prize methodology.
  • Closing achievement gaps. New York City narrowed achievement gaps between African-American and Hispanic students and the state average for white students in elementary and high school reading and math. For example, between 2003 and 2006, the achievement gap in high school between Hispanic students in New York City and the state average for white students closed 14 percentage points. The same African-American-white achievement gap closed 13 percentage points.
  • More African-American and Hispanic students achieving at high levels. New York City increased the percentage of African-American and Hispanic students at the most advanced level of proficiency in elementary school math: a 7 percentage point increase for African-Americans and a 9 percentage point increase for Hispanic students.

No doubt, another reason student achievement is up is because of creative teachers like Rachael Farmer, whose story was told on the Good News Network in January. Read how “Improvisation Boosts Reading in Poor Inner City School” to see how this fourth grade teacher took her class to the top of the city’s Accelerated Reading Program using a playful approach to teaching.

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings joined philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., today to announce the winner. The Broad Prize is the largest education prize in the country, honoring large urban school districts annually that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement.

As the winner of The Broad Prize, the New York City Department of Education, the largest in the nation, will receive $500,000 in college scholarships. The four finalists — Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut, Long Beach Unified School District in California, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio — will each receive $125,000 in college scholarships. Long Beach was the 2003 winner of The Broad Prize, and this marked the first year that a former winner returned as a finalist. Both Bridgeport and Miami-Dade are second-time finalists, while this is Northside’s first year as a finalist.

“Nothing is more important to the future of this country than giving young people the tools to succeed,” said Secretary Spellings, before opening the envelope that revealed New York City was the 2007 Broad Prize winner. “With the help of strong, innovative leadership, Broad Prize school districts are proving that if we raise our expectations, our children will rise to the challenge.”

The Broad Prize was started in 2002. Previous winners include Boston Public Schools (2006), Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia (2005), Garden Grove Unified School District in California (2004), Long Beach Unified School District in California (2003) and the Houston Independent School District (2002).

This year, 100 of the largest urban school districts in the country were eligible for The Broad Prize. The five finalists were selected by a board of 14 prominent national education experts after lengthy data analysis and site visits.

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