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PR- 338-08
September 2, 2008


Elementary and Middle School Families Receive New Great Expectations Guides that Describe What Students Can Expect to Learn at Each Grade Level

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today welcomed New York City public school students back to school for the 2008-2009 school year. The Mayor and Chancellor also announced new Great Expectations guides for families that describe what elementary and middle school students can expect to learn in Math, English, Science, and Social Studies each year and, how to help parents become more involved in their children's education. The Mayor and Chancellor were joined by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson, Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan, and other New York City leaders at P.S. 62 in the Bronx.

"It's the start of a new school year for some 1.1 million other students who are the future of New York City. Because this is a fundamentally different school system than it was in 2002, that future is brighter than ever," Mayor Bloomberg said. "Our schools are safer. Our classrooms are less crowded. Parents and students enjoy far greater school choice. We now have parent coordinators in our schools, whose job is to help parents stay informed and involved. Our teachers and principals are better qualified and better paid than ever before. And today, every school gets a fair budget deal from City Hall. These reforms - and many more -arise from the fact that accountability has been established at every level of our school system. Everything else flows from that, and it has all translated into better results for our students."

"This year we will continue to focus every single day on putting children first in New York City schools. That means attracting and retaining the best teachers, giving principals the decision-making power to meet students' needs, and giving schools and families the information they need to make decisions that help students learn," said Chancellor Klein. "We know that all students can learn and make progress-no matter where they came from or skills they may have at the start of the school year. Last year, our students made dramatic progress, and I'm confident that this year they'll build on that progress and make every day a day of learning and growth in our schools."

"Our schools are at the very heart of our City," said Speaker Quinn. "They are they place where our children will encounter those very special moments in education from teachers who will open their eyes to something new, to coaches who will inspire them, and counselors who will believe in them. That is why it is such a priority of the City Council this year to restore $125 million in funding for our schools to make sure that we give our children the resources they need to succeed. This funding will go directly into our classrooms and will be a big part of continuing the progress that our schools have made in the past few years."

"PS 62 is a sterling example of what a school can accomplish when administrators and educators collaborate for the benefit of their students," said United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. "Located in one of the most depressed areas of the Bronx where asthma rates are among the highest in the city, the school is a haven for kids. You have stable staff and administrators working together to provide students with a quality education, which is reflected in rising student test scores. Recently when the staff used funds provided by the City Council to purchase furniture for the faculty conference room, the principal pitched in and had the room painted. The school now has a new auditorium and a new library, and students, educators and parents are happily kicking off the school year on a high note. This is the type of working relationship we should strive for at all city public schools, and I want to commend principal Lourdes Estrella and UFT chapter leader Robert Fernandez for their efforts."

"The first day of school is always an exciting day for educators, students, and parents alike. School leaders have been working diligently all summer preparing for the challenges and new opportunities another school year brings. Great public schools begin with great leaders and I'm confident that work collectively, school leaders, teachers, parents and the Department of Education, we can provide every child in the New York City public school system with a quality education," said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan.

Beginning this September, schools will help to further engage parents in their children's education by distributing new Great Expectations guides to every family. The guides describe what students can expect to learn each year from kindergarten through 8th grade-from colors, shapes, and basic words to DNA, equations, and about the economy of the Great Depression era. The guides provide information about what students learn in core subject areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies, as well as what families can do at home to enhance learning in those areas. They also provide information about arts, fitness and health, libraries and research, and technology education, and provides questions for teachers that will help them to engage parents and improve their children's learning.

"An informed parent is a powerful partner in a child's education," said Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Marcia Lyles. "We have created these guides to give parents another tool to help their children learn when they're at school and at home."

The Mayor today also unveiled an updated edition of the NYC Family Guide, which is a handbook of practical information about everything from enrolling in school, to student transportation, to graduation requirements, to suggestions for extracurricular reading.

Historic Academic Progress
In the 2007-08 school year, New York City schools and students made historic academic progress. The graduation rate is now higher than it has been in decades. In 2007, 55.8 percent of City students graduated in four years using the City and State's new method of calculating the rate. Using the traditional City calculation, 62 percent of students are graduating, compared to 51 percent in 2002, when Mayor Bloomberg gained control over the City's schools. This rate increase translates into more than 5,000 additional students graduating since 2005. Before the start of the Bloomberg Administration, by contrast, the graduation rate had hardly moved in decades. More students are also meeting and exceeding standards in math and English. Since last year, the percentage of students in grades 3-8 meeting or exceeding standards in math has risen 9.2 percentage points, from 65.1 percent to 74.3 percent. In English Language Arts, student scores in grades 3-8 have risen by 6.8 points since last year, from 50.8 percent to 57.6 percent. Six years ago roughly half of fourth graders and a third of 8th graders were meeting State standards in math and reading. Today, seven in 10 New York City public school students in grades three through eight are meeting or exceeding standards in math and almost six in 10 are meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts. As a result of large gains like these, as well as our progress in narrowing the achievement gap, New York City is receiving national recognition. Last year, the City won America's most prestigious education award, the Broad Prize for Urban Education.

Safer Schools
As schools open this year, they are also safer. Major felony crimes declined by 11 percent and violent crimes declined by 10 percent during the 2007-08 school year. The number of schools classified as "persistently dangerous" under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act also decreased substantially, from 25 to 16 schools.

New Schools and New State-of-the-Art School Buildings
Schools continue to offer students more options to excel. The City is opening 71 schools for the 2008-2009 school year, including 18 charter schools. The City is opening 18 new school buildings across the five boroughs as part of the $13.1 billion five-year school capital plan. These buildings add 11,471 classroom seats for New York City students. This fall, 110,000 students will be enrolled in schools that did not exist in 2002, reducing overcrowding and providing New York families with unprecedented options.

More Options for Students
City schools are also offering students more preparatory options-from more AP classes to free PSATs for all 10th and 11th graders. The City is also opening four new and one newly converted Career and Technical Education schools, raising the total number of Career and Technical Education schools to 26. Additionally, the City will open seven new transfer schools and one Young Adult Borough Center to serve students who have fallen behind in traditional school settings. This brings the number of the number of transfer schools the Administration has opened to 26 and the number of Young Adult Borough Centers to 21.

About P.S 62
Students at P.S. 62 have made dramatic progress in recent years. In 2002, only one-third of 4th graders at P.S. 62 were meeting or exceeding grade level standards. Today, six years after the Mayor and the Chancellor launched the Children First reforms, nearly seven in 10 students are meeting or exceeding standards in math and almost half are meeting or exceeding standards in reading.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

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

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