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PR- 308-06
August 27, 2006


The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Good Morning.  This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

"Most students probably don't want to be reminded that the new school year is at hand.  But our public schools open in just nine days: on Tuesday, September 5th.  And this school year, we expect to help record numbers of students begin to prepare for college admissions. For the first time ever, all 150,000 sophomores and juniors in our public schools will be able to take the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test-the PSAT-free of charge.

"Taking the PSAT, which will be given on Wednesday, October 18th, is important for four reasons.  First, it's valuable practice for taking the SAT when students are seniors-and  SAT scores are a big factor in getting admitted to most colleges.  Second, taking the PSAT signals an interest in going to college-and colleges respond by sending information to students that lets them know more about all the options they have.  Third, the PSAT is the qualifying test for $50 million a year in National Merit Scholarships.  And fourth, this year, City schools will start using PSAT scores to help identify students who would benefit from enrolling in high school Advanced Placement courses-and taking AP classes also boosts students' chances of college admission.

"In the past, no more than about a third of our 10th and 11th graders have taken the PSAT.  But we think it's important for all students-even those who might not be thinking about college now-to keep all their options open.  Taking the PSAT free of charge will help them do just that.  So when our high school sophomores and juniors return to classes next week, their schools will give them and their parents more information that will encourage them to take the PSAT.

"This is just one way that we're improving college readiness for more of our students.  We've also vastly expanded Advanced Placement offerings; during the last school year, we started 80 new AP programs, many of them in schools with largely African American and Latino student bodies that hadn't offered AP courses before. 

"We're also moving ahead with opening seven new academically selective high schools throughout the city.  And, in communities that are now under-represented in our selective high schools, we've stepped up efforts to help elementary and middle school students compete successfully for admission to these schools.  Last school year, we gave intensive instruction to more than 3,000 such students to prepare them for this fall's specialized high schools exam.  That's five times the number of students that were served in previous years, and we're very hopeful that this will result in more African American and Latino students attending these academically challenging and highly regarded high schools.

"This year, we're also adding 35 more new small secondary schools to the nearly 150 such schools we've already opened.  These schools have had much better promotion and graduation rates than the citywide high school average, and they hold out great promise for preparing more students for college-level work.  And through all these initiatives-including the new free PSAT program-we're letting all our high school students know that we're ready to help them succeed in today's competitive, knowledge-based economy.

"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.  Thanks for listening." 


Stu Loeser   (212) 788-2958

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