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PR- 351-06
October 10, 2006


Mayor Bloomberg Unveils NYC Schools "Progress Report Card" - A New Tool for Principals and Parents to Gauge the Health and Progress of their Schools to Increase Accountability

The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as prepared.

"Thank you Joel.  Thanks Bill for inviting us back and good morning everyone.  Governor, I'm delighted that this time, the weather - as well as your busy schedule - permits you to join us here. Florida and New York have a lot in common - and I don't just mean the 'Snow Bird Set' that splits its time between here and there.  We also share a commitment to those who are our future - our students.  And Governor, I just can't congratulate you enough for the progress you've made in turning Florida's schools around.  You're a role model for us all! 

"Transparency, meaningful standards, and rigorous accountability: Governor Bush and I stressed those ideas in our Washington Post op-ed.  That's because they're the keys to school reform, and to improving the Federal 'No Child Left Behind Act.' They're also the foundation of our 'Children First' efforts here in New York. A good education is every child's right - in Florida, New York, and in every state and city in America.  But in order to ensure that right in our city's public schools, we first had to scuttle a status quo that was fractured, patronage-ridden, and utterly dysfunctional. Under that old system, if most children failed to learn in many of our schools, it was treated as if it were 'nobody's fault.'   Nobody cared-and generations of New York's sons and daughters paid the price. Not any more.  We were given the control of the schools that we asked for-and we've taken on the responsibility to deliver. 

"Now, failure is no longer a permissible option.  And the result is that our schools are finally headed in the right direction. Because we've instituted accountability in our schools, over the past four years in NYC, we've been able to cut the bureaucracy by $200 million and move those resources where they belong - to the classrooms.  We'll match that with another $200 million in the years ahead. We've increased teacher salaries by a third, and now have more than seven qualified applicants for every vacancy in our teacher corps.  We expanded the school week by 2 ½ hours for struggling students.  Now, those most in need get specialized, focused help in classrooms of ten or fewer participants.  We've instituted a first-time-ever citywide curriculum-something that would have been impossible under the old regime. 

"We've ended social promotion at key grade levels.  And these reforms are working.  The proof is in the fact that the on-time graduation rate for our students has increased significantly. Student classroom performance is up across the city. And perhaps most significantly, we've begun to close the achievement gap that has separated black and Latino students from their Asian and white classmates for too long.  Now, our reforms remain very much a work in progress. We've still got a long way to go before all our schools are where they need to be but, by instituting accountability and standards, we've made a good beginning.

"In this school year, we'll put the finishing touches on a powerful new tool for insuring that every public school in the city fulfills its core mission:  Helping every student learn. You have each found one of these at your tables this morning.  It's the prototype of a brand-new report card that we're developing, but this one won't grade students, it will grade schools. The Chancellor unveiled the concept for it back in April.  Today, I'm pleased to say that this fall, more than 330 schools throughout the city will be evaluated in a first, pilot round of progress reports.

"This prototype will be accompanied by an easy-to-read, user-friendly guide.  Over the next few months, we're also going to share this prototype with parents, and use their comments to refine and improve it.  Then a year from now, every school in the city will be graded on reports that will go out to every public school parent, and also be posted on the Department of Education's web site. These evaluations of school performance will be based on three key factors.

"First, they'll tell us about the school environment:  That will include quantitative measurements, such as attendance, as well as qualitative information based on annual satisfaction surveys of parents, teachers, and students at each school. Second, they'll tell us about student performance.  Anyone will be able to easily see: How many students at a school are meeting or exceeding standards in English and math, What the average performance level of youngsters in the school is, How the school stacks up against other schools in the city, and how it compares to schools with socially and economically comparable student bodies. And third, this report card will measure student progress.  It will answer the questions:  Are individual students moving ahead from year to year?  How much? And is the school truly leaving no child behind?  Are black and Latino students, English Language Learners, and students whose past performance has lagged, getting the help they need to gain ground and reach their potential?

"Scores on all of these factors will be rolled together into an overall school grade, ranging from 'A' through 'F.' That kind of step-by-step gradation is currently missing from 'No Child Left Behind' - and Governor Bush and I agree that it ought to be included in the law when Congress reauthorizes NCLB next year.  We need to know if schools are genuinely helping students make progress - and progress just can't be captured by NCLB's current, over-simplified 'pass/fail' evaluation standards.  

"These school report cards will do for our schools what CompStat did for law enforcement:  Help schools use data to improve, and also make school-level accountability even more rigorous.  And based on what these reports show, the schools and principals that succeed will be rewarded; those that don't will face consequences.   

"These progress reports will also inform parent choices and strengthen parent voices.  They'll give parents the hard, cold facts about what schools are succeeding - or lagging.  So I expect to get these progress reports waved at me at civic meetings in every part of town.  And I say - Good!  Parents deserve to have the facts - good, bad, or ugly - so we can work together to improve results for our kids.

"Now before opening the floor to questions, let me point out that our prototype report card is for the 'Fred C. Dobbs Elementary School.' No such school exists.  But we chose that name for a reason.  How many fans of American movie classics are here this morning? This fictitious school gets its name from a character that Humphrey Bogart played in the adventure film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  His most memorable line was:  'No one puts anything over on Fred C. Dobbs!'

"Well, this report card is going to help insure that when it comes to our schools, no one's going to be able to put anything over on anyone anymore. This school report card is all about accountability. It's about ending excuses. It's about zero-tolerance for passing the buck when it comes to schools that aren't doing their job as well as they should.

"When we say that we're putting 'Children First,' we mean it - and measures like this report card will ensure that the children, and no one else, always come first in our public schools.  As Governor Bush and I believe, reauthorizing the 'No Child Left Behind' Act - strengthened to encourage local accountability measures like this report card - will help educators and elected officials do the same, from coast to coast.  We'll continue to work together to achieve just that."


Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958

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