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PR- 239-04
September 9, 2004


Plan Builds Upon Successful Third Grade Promotion Policy

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein today unveiled a plan to end social promotion in the fifth grade and allocated $20 million to fund intensive academic intervention.  The plan builds upon the successful third grade promotion policy, which resulted in students achieving Level 2 on summer tests at twice the rate of last year's students upon completion of Summer Success Academy. The announcement was made at a breakfast for hundreds of principals, teachers and parent coordinators at Brooklyn Technology High School.

"This year, roughly the same number of children are moving from third grade to fourth grade as were promoted a year ago - the difference is that this year, all the youngsters entering fourth grade have the skills they need," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "Now it's time to take the next step. Beginning in October we will apply the same standards we used in our third grade promotion policy to put an end to social promotion in the fifth grade. We will allocate $20 million to fund an array of interventions similar to those that have been employed to help third graders including tutoring or computer-based learning before, during and after school, on weekends, and during school holidays. We will take what worked so well during the Summer Success Academy this year and replicate those strategies and materials in elementary schools citywide throughout the new school year.  Just as we have done with third graders, we will find the fifth graders who need help and provide it to them."

"Middle school marks a critical transition for students," said Chancellor Klein.  "They begin changing classes and working with multiple teachers.  If our students are to succeed, they need to have mastered basic skills before they can proceed to this more challenging environment.  Students testing at Level 1 are performing far below standards and have not yet acquired the necessary skills.  We should not resign ourselves to leaving them behind.  With this policy, we ensure that the students most in need of our help will get the help they need.  As the third grade policy has shown, with aggressive intervention and targeted support, struggling students can achieve."

$20 million will be allocated to support fifth grade intervention services that will start in October and be similar to those employed with third graders.  Struggling students will be identified using both in-class assessments and test scores from previous years and will receive early, consistent supplementary instructional support during the school year.   Promotion will be based on a combination of fifth grade ELA and Math test scores and a comprehensive portfolio of student class work to be prepared by teachers.  Special education students and most English language learners will be exempt from the policy as they are under the new third grade promotion policy.

At the core of the plan will be a program of 24 Saturday sessions that will provide struggling students with direct instruction in small classes with specialized teachers.   While students will focus on areas of particular need, the curriculum will also provide opportunities for students to gain general learning skills, such as how to work with more than one teacher, move from class to class and complete homework assignments from week to week.   As with Summer Success Academy, the five-hour Saturday sessions will partner with community based organizations to provide a one-hour enrichment class that will include arts, parent workshops, sports and other opportunities to strengthen students social, emotional and intellectual growth.

The plan is based on historic trends that show that students who score at Level 1 in the fifth grade continue to perform below grade level as they complete eighth grade and enter high school.  Approximately 15,000 fifth grade students score in Level 1 on the Citywide Math or ELA test each year, and since 1999, an average of more than 12,000 students have been promoted unprepared each year.  Tracking of fifth graders scoring in Level 1 in 1999 and 2000 shows that about 15% are retained at least once, and close to 50% remain in Level 1 at the end of eighth grade.  Of the fifth graders scoring in Level 1 in 1999 and 2000 who were promoted to sixth grade, less than 1% (or fewer than 100 students per year) met or exceeded grade-level standards (level 3 or level 4) by the time they left middle school.  Of those promoted, a substantial majority remained in Level 1.  This indicates clearly that children who were struggling in fifth grade did not receive the intervention they needed to succeed and therefore did not leave middle school with even basic skills.  This program provides these children with the resources and support to gain the basic skills they need to become productive citizens.

The Mayor and Chancellor also announced the final results of the third grade policy, which showed a dramatic reversal in performance after completion of Summer Success Academy.   In contrast to last year, when only 19% of third graders who scored in Level 1 on the spring test moved to Level 2 by the end of the summer, more than twice as many of this year's 10,398 third grade students - 41%, or 4,257 students, all of whom had the benefit of the Summer Success Academy, achieved Level 2 on summer tests.  An additional 1,159 were granted an appeal in June based on class work portfolios, and 1,363 were granted an appeal in August.   When they arrive in their fourth grade classrooms next week, all of these students will be closely monitored and supported to ensure their continued academic growth.  Of the original group, 3,619 students will be retained in third grade and will continue to receive intervention services.

This fall, the promotion policy will again be applied to general education third graders.  Struggling third graders will receive tutoring and computer-based learning both during and outside of school hours.  Elementary schools will also have new student success teams that will focus on the instructional needs of individual students and will ensure adequate support.  The teams will consist of an administrator, all cluster/specialist teachers, a guidance counselor and any assessment/evaluation specialists. 

Both the third and fifth grade plans enhance the Children First initiatives that form the foundation of the Department of Education's program to raise student achievement.  The interim assessments and ECLAS2 have enabled teachers to identify students who need more intensive instruction and to address their needs.  The core curriculum, in-school coaches and extensive professional development have improved our ability to provide high-quality instruction that is geared toward meeting the standards our children need to succeed. 


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958

Jerry Russo   (DOE)
(212) 374-5141

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