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PR- 332-08
August 26, 2008


Blueprint for Middle School Success Will Be Provided to All Middle Schools

High-Needs Middle Schools Will Have Access to Grants for Innovation and Improvement

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the launch of the Campaign for Middle School Success, a multi-year strategic plan to develop a culture of middle school success across the city and improve the academic performance of middle school students. The campaign builds on other middle school initiatives already advanced as part of the Children First reforms and is the product of collaboration among the Department of Education (DOE), the City Council Middle School Task Force, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), Borough Presidents' offices, and the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice. 

The Campaign for Middle School Success is a $35 million initiative supported by both public and private funds, including a five-year, $18 million grant from the GE Foundation; $12 million of Department of Education funding that, following the recommendation of City Council, will support grants available to underperforming schools; and $5 million from the Department of Education's Middle School Initiative, a program launched jointly last year with the City Council that will now be absorbed into the Campaign for Middle School Success. The DOE will continue to seek external funding to support the Campaign.

"We continue to focus attention on our city's middle schools because that is where the rubber hits the road for many of our students," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The middle school years provide crucial preparation for high school, and this public-private partnership will help ensure that more students enter their freshman year with the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.  By sustaining more of the encouraging progress we are making in the lower grades, we can continue raising graduation rates to new heights."  

The major components of the Campaign for Middle School Success include:

  • Providing the Blueprint for Middle School Success to all middle schools. The Blueprint, developed after the DOE performed a detailed analytical review of New York City middle school performance last year and includes recommendations from the Council Middle School Task Force, provides performance data-which will be updated annually-and describes best practices used by successful middle schools in New York City and other school districts;
  • Increasing access to financial resources for high-needs middle schools by offering them grants to develop innovative programming and for other improvements;
  • Supporting these schools as they create comprehensive, carefully tailored plans that will be used to access the grants through a Request for Applications process.

"The City Council has made middle school reform a major priority over the past year, and I am thrilled that our collaboration with the Administration has created an additional $12 million in funding for some of our highest need middle schools," said Speaker Quinn.  "If we lose students in middle school, it is often a short road to high school dropout and a lifetime of limited opportunity.  This funding will expand the number of schools already experiencing success as a result of the work of the Council's Middle School Task Force, and will continue to enhance reform by offering a comprehensive menu of options for principals to improve their schools based on the recommendations of the Blueprint for Middle School Success, the Middle School Task Force, and the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice."

"The Campaign for Middle School Success contains our best knowledge to date on how to create a culture of success in middle schools. This is a concerted effort to provide our principals and teachers with all the resources and knowledge they need to engage our diverse population of middle school students, help them to succeed during the difficult years of middle school, and prepare them for the challenges of high school, college and the workplace," said Chancellor Klein. "I applaud the extraordinary amount of work my staff and our partners have put into designing this plan. I look forward to seeing the improved performance of our middle schools."

"New York City educators have long known that our middle schools pose some of the most difficult challenges for educators, students, and parents. A special focus is needed to address the varied and unique issues adolescents face in and out of the classroom, and we at the United Federation of Teachers are pleased to see our middle schools finally start to get the extra attention they need," said UFT Vice President Richard Farkas. "We know it will take a major and prolonged effort to turn around struggling middle schools, and we should be realistic in our expectations. But this campaign does provide a promising start on a much needed effort to give our students the best chance we can offer them for academic success."

"CSA is proud to join the Mayor, Chancellor Klein, and the City Council in the continuation of the plan to strengthen middle schools," said CSA President Ernest Logan. "Too often our middle schools have lacked a comprehensive academic improvement plan that addresses the specific needs of middle school students and staff. This Blueprint for Middle School Success, coupled with increased funding, will provide schools with the opportunity to expand and enhance programs that have demonstrated success and supply our high-needs schools with the support and resources needed to institute a plan for academic progress."

"The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice has focused on comprehensive middle grade reform for close to two years.  Our members from across the City have worked tirelessly to bring attention to the crisis in middle grades and propose solutions in order to close the achievement gap," said Coalition for Educational Justice Parent Leader Zakiyah Ansari. "We are pleased that the Department of Education is embarking on a comprehensive citywide initiative to address this crisis and has committed resources to do so.  We all agree that high school graduation rates will not increase dramatically without a major improvement in teaching and learning in the middle grades.  The power of a collaborative relationship with parents, community, and the Department of Education has produced the next step in that comprehensive reform for our children.  It can be done, it can work, but it has to be truly collaborative and ongoing.  CEJ looks forward to continuing to work with the DOE in this critical effort."

"Improving our middle schools is one of the most important aspects of education reform within our City," said Education Committee Chair Council Member Robert Jackson.  "The Blueprint for Middle School Success will expand on the recommendations the City Council made through the Middle School Task Force last year.  As a result of the collaboration between the City Council and the administration, our highest need schools will now have an additional $12 million in funding, enabling us to more than double the number of schools already instituting important reforms."

"I have appreciated the opportunity to serve on the Campaign for Middle Schools Success Advisory Task Force and look forward to continued collaboration with this essential and promising set of initiatives," said Bank Street College Graduate School of Education Dean Dr. Jon Snyder.

New York City middle schools will be provided with the Blueprint for Middle School Success this week, and eligible high-needs schools will be able to apply this year for improvement grants. In all, 219 lower-performing middle-grade schools across the City will be eligible for improvement grants. Separately, more than 50 middle schools in Northern Manhattan will be eligible to apply for the $18 million GE grant.

A Request for Applications for the middle school improvement grants will also be sent to principals of the lowest-performing middle schools this week. These schools may apply for planning grants through the RFA; selected schools will receive the grants in October, and use them to create comprehensive improvement plans, which they must submit by mid-January. They will be notified of funding in February. The amount of money allocated to each school will depend on the scope of their proposals.

The Campaign for Middle School success will become the umbrella for all Department of Education middle school reform initiatives and is designed to support other initiatives already in place to improve middle school performance. Particularly, the Blueprint for Middle School Success offers guidance to schools in adopting programs that accelerate the learning of their incoming 6th-graders and offers guidance to schools in assisting their 8th grade promotion policy.  The Blueprint for Middle School Success also includes recommendations for offering all middle school students access to Regents-level courses by 2010, a recommendation of the City Council Middle School Task Force. Additionally, middle schools can receive extra credit on their 2008-09 Progress Reports if they offer Regents courses to their middle-grade students.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor   (Education)
(212) 374-5141

Laura Gordon (Speaker Quinn)   (212) 788-7121

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