This week, the City's public schools received more encouraging news: last year student achievement increased virtually across the board on both City and State tests. It's clear that the exceptional leadership of Chancellor Rudy Crew and the strong, focused partnership between the City and the Board of Education is paying off. A culture of performance has replaced a culture of unaccountability. Our teachers, principals, and students deserve credit for making progress.
Of course, our schools have a long way to go. Far too many students are still not living up to their full potential. It would be a major mistake to become complacent just as we are beginning to make significant headway in turning the system around. Instead, it's now our obligation to work even harder to build on what has become a record of success + to make this success only the first act in a larger, permanent transformation of our schools.
Amidst this week's news of improvement in almost every area of student achievement, I want to single out the sustained gains in elementary school reading scores. Ever since Chancellor Crew came to New York City in October 1995, one of his top priorities has been improving reading performance. That's why he set a goal that every student in the system should read at or above grade level by the end of third grade + a goal we're getting closer to reaching every year.
For Chancellor Crew and I, this is part of an overall vision of higher standards and better instruction leading to enhanced student achievement. From the outset, we shifted the City's energy and resources on performance and away from the Board of Education's bureaucracy. We implemented school-based budgeting, which for the first time in the history of the system shows parents exactly how their money is being spent. And we won governance reform in Albany, which gives the Chancellor the power to ensure that superintendents and local school boards are held accountable for raising student performance.
With renewed confidence that the Board of Education will spend money wisely, we've implemented smart new programs like Project Read, which enhances reading instruction in the early grades, and Partners in Reading, which provides extra reading instruction in housing development community centers. In fact, the major gains in reading scores reflected in the results published last week came before Project Read, Partners in Reading, and other performance-enhancing programs were in place. When we begin to see the effects of these initiatives over the next few years, I am confident that student achievement will rise even higher.
But for now, we should commend and encourage the educators and students who make the Board of Education what it is + a public school system that is on the move, with many accomplishments behind it and many more still to come.