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StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: August 25-30, 2013

In this week's news roundup: Mayor Bloomberg's education legacy is examined in 12 charts, a Brooklyn public school establishes an innovative strategy to achieve diversity, Success Academy plans to expand its network over the next decade, and a study finds that smaller schools boost high school graduation rates.

12 Charts that Examine How NYC Schools Have Changed Under Bloomberg
Crain's New York Business // August 26, 2013

Over Mayor Bloomberg's 12-year tenure, reforming NYC's public school network has been one of his main focuses. There has been intense scrutiny over the mayor's control of the Department of Education over the last ten years. Crain's New York Business has put together a dozen different interactive charts that capture how NYC's schools have changed, for better and for worse, under Mayor Bloomberg and mayoral control of the City's schools.

Education Reform Group Lists Public School Demands to Mayoral Candidates
New York Daily News // August 29, 2013

Families for Excellent Schools, a New York City-based education reform group with roughly 5,000 members will present a list of demands for NYC's public schools to all mayoral candidates, according to the New York Daily News:

"Families for Excellent Schools insists that Mayor Bloomberg's successor open up the public schools to admissions through lotteries, add more seats in quality academic programs and maintain the city's current policy of free space for charter schools in their neighborhoods."

Teachers Receive First Merit-Pay Bonuses in Newark
The Wall Street Journal // August 25, 2013

Last year, the City of Newark, New Jersey and the Newark Teachers Union approved a contract that included a "controversial merit-pay program," the first large school district in New Jersey to undertake such a program. Last week, 190 Newark teachers received a total of $1.4 million in bonuses - teachers received a $5,000 bonus for being rated as "highly effective," another $5,000 for working at a poorly performing school, and an additional $2,500 for teaching subjects such as math and science that are difficult for the district to staff. According to The Wall Street Journal, the new merit-pay system does more than just reward effective teachers:

In the past, Newark teachers—like most local educators across the nation—were rewarded for longevity and for obtaining higher degrees. The new pay system, which covers about two-thirds of Newark's public schoolteachers, eliminated automatic annual raises for experience, made teachers eligible for bonuses and did away with automatic pay increases for advanced degrees. The school district is among the poorest in New Jersey and has long posted some of the state's worst results on standardized tests.

Success Academy Charter Network Set to Expand in Next Decade // August 28, 2013

The Success Academy charter school network recently received a $5 million grant from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to continue expanding in New York City. The network of successful charters currently has 20 schools and plans to open seven more next year. According to, one source says Success Academy will aim to operate 100 schools in New York by the end of the decade:

A Success Academy spokeswoman did not immediately comment on the 100-school goal, but she did note that Success was trying to accommodate a "very very high demand" for seats.

The charter received 10 times as many applications for the 2012-2013 school year as there were open seats, Success officials previously said.

New Public School in Brooklyn Looks to Add Diversity
GothamSchools // August 29, 2013

P.S. 133 in Park Slope just opened a new $66 million building, and they're also adopting a new admissions model as well. According to GothamSchools, the new school will draw students from the broader neighborhood to help diversify the classrooms:

Instead of drawing students from its old zone in District 13, the school accepts students from across all of District 13 and adjoining District 15. A third of seats are earmarked for students from District 13, and 30 percent of kindergarten seats are reserved for English language learners and children who quality for free or reduced-price lunch.

Teach For America Founder Urges New York Familes to Embrace Common Core Results
New York Daily News // August 30, 2013

New York State has already released results for the Common Core test by school and district. This week, these scores were sent to individual families. According to Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, finding out whether your child is passing or failing a more rigorous bar is a difficult endeavor which could sway public opinion against the test. In an editorial for the New York Daily News, Kopp says she sympathizes with Common Core skeptics, but she thinks we should embrace these results and strive to demand higher expectations:

"I encourage my fellow parents to embrace the results, as discouraging as they may seem. We've been in the dark for too long. Like many parents, I've struggled to judge what my children’s grades and test scores actually mean - how well they're stacking up against the best-educated students in this country, let alone in others.

"Common Core results finally give families an accurate barometer of whether our kids are mastering the skills they need to succeed in a knowledge-based global economy, early enough that we can intervene."

Study: Smaller Schools Help Students Graduate
WNYC // August 26, 2013

A study commissioned by research group MRDC found that students enrolled at NYC's smaller schools are more likely to graduate on time, compared with students in the City's larger high schools. The study examined student outcomes from the fall of 2006 6o the present. According to WNYC, the city has opened over 200 small high schools during the Bloomberg Administration:

"On average, the four-year graduation rate for students in the small schools was 74.6 percent compared to 65.1 percent in the control group. The researchers also looked at students entering small high schools in the fall of 2004 and 2005. When all three groups were averaged, with 12,000 students attending 85 small schools, the total graduation rate was 70.4 percent compared to 60.9 percent for students attending other schools. The results build upon a previous study released last year.

"'It seems pretty clear now that these small high schools are much, much stronger than some of the traditional high schools,' said MDRC president Gordon Berlin. 'So we came away very impressed by the size of the result.'"

NYC Maintains High Standard for Teacher Tenure
SchoolBook // August 28, 2013

This week NYC released the latest statistics on teacher tenure. Fifty-three percent of teachers eligible last school year received tenure, which is down from 55 percent the previous year.

This number shows a continued commitment to raising the standards for tenure and a refusal to return to the old status quo. In the 2006-2007 school year, 97% of teachers were given tenure. SchoolBook reports on the announcement:

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott pointed to a "higher bar" and more rigorous tenure rules instituted three years ago for the decrease in teachers earning tenure outright.

“If you turned back the clock, tenure was an automatic right and not something earned," Walcott said in a written statement. "But that’s changed. We expect more of our teachers as we raise the bar for students like never before. I want to congratulate all those who were granted tenure."

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