FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES ENDING SOCIAL PROMOTION IN THE 7TH GRADE AND EXTRA SECURITY MEASURES TO PROTECT SUBWAY RIDERS IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, July 24, 2005
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Our Administration's public school reforms are producing real results for our students; we're clearly moving in the right direction. The four-year high school graduation rate, while still too low, is the highest it's been in 20 years. We've cut the number of schools at risk of being closed as irreversible failures to the lowest number ever. And in the last school year, students in the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th grades posted the highest scores and biggest one-year gains ever on the citywide reading and math tests.
"Now, building on those successes, we're tackling what everyone recognizes has long been the biggest challenge in the school system; improving classroom performance in the middle school grades. The problems are hard to miss. Despite last year's gains in reading and math scores, more than half of 6th and 7th graders were still working below grade level; in the 8th grade, scores were even lower. As a group, middle schools aren't doing their job of preparing students to do Regents-level work in high school, and earn Regents diplomas.
"We're going to change that in the same way that we've raised student performance in the 3rd and 5th grades in recent years. We're going to ask the City's Panel for Educational Policy to end social promotion in the 7th grade. Next spring, moving up to the 8th grade will depend on scoring at Level 2 or higher on the 7th grade English Language Arts test, or on the results of a mandatory appeals process evaluating student work using standard citywide criteria. The following school year, those standards will apply in math, too.
"Year after year, thousands and thousands of 7th graders who are utterly unprepared for 8th grade have been promoted anyway. When you track those students through high school, you find that they typically fail to ever graduate. That's going to stop. Improving students' performance in the 7th grade will give them a foundation in the fundamentals of reading, writing, and math that will help them succeed in 8th grade, in high school, and most importantly, in life.
"We're not trying to punish 7th graders who are struggling; instead, we're identifying those who need extra help and getting it to them. That's why we're committing $40 million in this year's budget to the kinds of strategies that have worked with so many of our 3rd and 5th graders: Extra classes on Saturdays and during the summer; intensive professional development for middle school teachers, principals, and staff; and a variety of programs designed to help students, both in the classrooms and during after-school hours. We're going to go the extra mile for 7th graders who need more academic support, and we'll also hold them to the standards that they must meet.
"Before signing off this morning, I want to say a few words about the extra security measures that the NYPD is now taking to protect subway riders, including random searches of backpacks and bags. It's a policy designed to strike a balance that protects our civil liberties, that isn't too intrusive, and that keeps anybody who might think of threatening us off balance and off guard. The times demand stepped up vigilance-and we're going to provide it in a fair and sensible way. It may take you a little longer to get where you're going, but we're going to make sure that you get there safely.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening."
Edward Skyler (212) 788-2958