Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 419-06
December 4, 2006


Mayor and Governor Advocate for Common Sense Changes to Federal No Child Left Behind Law to Increase Accountability, Raise Standards, Recognize Progress and Attract and Retain High Quality Teachers

Lessons Learned in Florida School System Show Importance of Accountability and Parent Engagement in Closing the Achievement Gap

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Florida Governor Jeb Bush to announce that they will lobby Congress together for common sense changes and reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. In August, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush outlined four areas of the law that needed improvement in order to ensure America's schools raise standards, increase student performance across the board, and close the achievement gap. The Mayor and Governor will take this message to Washington, DC to lobby for reauthorization of the law, which expires at the end of 2007. Mayor Bloomberg made today's announcement after a "listening and learning" tour of Miramar Elementary School in Broward County, Florida. Under Governor Bush's "A+" accountability system, Miramar Elementary - a historically underperforming school - made dramatic gains in student achievement. Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush were joined by New York City Schools  Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education John Winn, Chairman of the State Board of Education Phil Handy, and Miramar Elementary Principal Philip Bullock for today's announcement.

"Under Governor Bush's leadership, Florida has become a pace-setter in education reform," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Florida's experience proves that accountability is critical to making meaningful progress in student achievement. If you set high standards, empower school leaders and hold them accountable, you will make significant gains in student performance and begin to narrow the intolerable achievement gap. This is the spirit embodied in No Child Left Behind. Governor Bush and I will work together to persuade Congress to make a good law even better, so that we truly leave no child behind."

"Florida and New York City have embraced principled education reform by setting high standards and accountability for students, measuring and publicly reporting how students are performing and providing rewards and consequences for results," said Governor Bush. "I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bloomberg as we advocate for reform regarding the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act."

"Florida's reforms serve as a road map for school districts nationwide," said Chancellor Klein. "If we are to turn around our schools, particularly those that educate poor and minority children, we must move from a culture of excuse to a culture of accountability, with empowered leaders holding themselves, teachers, and students to high expectations and high standards."    

In October, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush addressed more than 400 members and guests of the Association for a Better New York regarding improvements to America's public schools and NCLB.  Both praised the accountability measures in the law, but advocated for enhancements that would ensure student achievement is more effectively and practically promoted across the nation.

Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush proposed to strengthen and improve the No Child Left Behind law in four principal ways:

  • Under current law, states can define "proficiency" and there are no uniform achievement standards. This creates incentives to lower standards. Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush propose making standards meaningful by using the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often referred to as the "nation's report card" as an evaluator of states' standards, creating a mechanism through which to compare one state to the next.

  • The current law only encourages schools to get a certain number of students across the proficiency threshold, rather than help each student make gains. Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush propose changing the law to encourage progress by all students - from the lowest performers to the most gifted.

  • When it comes to rating schools, the current law only uses "pass" or "fail." If schools make significant progress but have yet to achieve a passing mark, their incremental gains count for nothing. Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush believe the law should recognize this growth, too.

  • The current law fails to create incentives to attract, retain and reward teachers. Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Bush understand the need to attract and retain high quality teachers and propose linking teacher pay to performance, reward teachers who work in communities and subject areas where they're needed most, and toughening standards for granting teacher tenure.

New York City Education Reforms

Four years after gaining mayoral control over the New York City school system, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have implemented successful education reform initiatives, increasing accountability in the City's schools and expanding the authority of principals. This comprehensive approach has been built on three inter-related principles - leadership, empowerment, and accountability.

Leadership: An organization needs great leaders at all levels to be successful. Principals are at the center of the City's school reforms. To enhance leadership, the DOE has:

  • Created the Leadership Academy to prepare and support principals for NYC public schools.
  • Given principals increased decision-making power over school-based decisions.
  • Reformed the teachers' contract to enhance principals' power to build their own teams.

Empowerment: As the City has held schools accountable, it has given them increased decision-making power and control over their own resources. This year, 332 schools opted to become "Empowerment Schools." In return for signing performance agreements, principals at these schools receive:

  • Discretion over budgets, educational programming, teacher development, school scheduling, and hiring.
  • An average of $150,000 in new, discretionary funds made possible by redirecting funds from the DOE bureaucracy back to schools and classrooms.

Accountability: Last Spring, New York City launched a comprehensive accountability initiative that holds all schools responsible for progress, performance, and quality. The initiative includes:

  • Quality Reviews. Starting this year, each school receives an annual on-site review by an experienced educator.
  • Progress Reports. Starting in 2007, all NYC schools will receive grades (A-F) based on performance and progress, as well as the results of parent, teacher, and student surveys. Schools will receive rewards and consequences based on their results.
  • Accountability tools. All schools will receive periodic assessments and access to a powerful data management system to measure the growth of each individual student over time.

From the 2001-2002 school year to the 2004-2005 school year, the gap in Grade 4 Math scores between white students and their Black and Hispanic peers has decreased by 16 and 14 percentage points, respectively. Grade 4 English scores have shown similar improvement, with the gap between white students and their African American and Latino peers decreasing by five and seven percentage points, respectively. In addition, New York City schools last year had the highest on-time graduation rate in nearly 20 years - 58.2% of the class of 2005 graduated on time. This is the highest graduation rate since the City began tracking in 1986. In 2006, at 15 of the City's new small high schools - a Bloomberg Administration innovation - 73% of students graduated on-time.

Under the Bloomberg Administration, violent crime in schools has decreased. In the 2005-2006 school year, major crimes were down 9% in City schools and total violence was down 12%.

In addition, the City is moving forward with its sweeping five year, $13 billion DOE Capital Construction Plan which will reshape the physical plant of the New York City public schools. In November, Mayor Bloomberg and Bear, Stearns & Co. completed the sale and transfer of $650 million in New York State-financed school bonds, the first state-funded installment towards the DOE Capital Plan. The proceeds of the bond sale will be used to pay for the construction of 66,000 classroom seats and the renovation of school facilities. Combined with the seats created from 2003 to 2005, the Administration will provide nearly 106,000 classroom seats across the City, alleviating pockets of overcrowding and reducing class size.


Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

Kristy Campbell (Governor Bush)   (850) 488-5394

More Resources
Watch the video in 56k or 300k