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Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott and Senior Administration Officials Visit the 22 City Schools Ranked in Top 25 Statewide as Measured by the New More Rigorous Common Core Exams

September 16, 2013

In 2001, none of the Top 25 Elementary and Middle Schools in New York State Were Located in New York City

Today, 22 of the Top 25 Schools in the State Are in New York City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and Administration officials today visited the 22 New York City Schools now ranked in the top 25 statewide on the new more rigorous common core exams. In 2001, none of the top 25 schools in the state were New York City public schools, and Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott and other officials today visited the 22 New York City schools now ranked in the top 25 in the state to congratulate students and thank teachers, principals, administrators and staff for their dedication to continuing the remarkable improvement of New York City schools. The Mayor visited the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars, a kindergarten through Eighth grade school in East Harlem. A full listing of the schools visited made by Administration officials is below.

"These schools' success outperforming the best schools in the rest of the state represents the incredible transformation that has taken place in our city's schools over the past twelve years," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There was once a time when even the best New York City schools struggled to compete with other school districts in the State; now, the opposite is true, and the best schools in the rest of the state are trying to keep up with New York City's best schools. Our teachers, administrators, and students deserve our thanks and praise for their hard work."

"The transition to Common Core learning standards has been years in the making, but as demonstrated by these 22 schools, New York City is adjusting to the higher standards as well as anyone could have hoped," said Chancellor Walcott. "I am extremely proud of the work being done in our schools to better prepare our students for life after graduation."

Senior administration officials today have been visiting all of the 22 top schools throughout the day to thank the teachers, students, administrators for reaching such a major accomplishment. These 22 schools include traditional public schools as well as public charter schools and are in neighborhoods citywide. 7 of the 22 schools visited today were opened under the Bloomberg administration.

Under the new Common Core standards, students are required to think critically, read more difficult passages and books, and spend more time writing. In English, when students share their opinions, teachers are asking them to use evidence to back up their arguments more often. In math class, students are developing more real-world applicable skills that they will be able to use in future courses and jobs. This year, for the first time, the third- to eighth-grade State exams began to assess these abilities. This year, the Department of Education has invested more than $100 million in teacher development in part to help train teachers on the new Common Core-aligned curriculum.

More information about each school is below:

The Anderson School:
The Anderson School PS 334 is a K-8 school for gifted and talented students from around the five boroughs. Initially founded in September 1987 as the Anderson Program at PS 9, the standalone school opened in 2005. Principal Jodi Hyde and her teachers provide students with a challenging, fast-paced work environment; students work a year above their grade level in mathematics. This school was visited by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The Christa McAuliffe School IS 187:
IS 187 is a gifted and talented middle school well known for its music program. The school's mission is to encourage and foster high standards of excellence in the areas of academic and social growth. Many of the school's teachers have been on the faculty since the school's creation in 1994; Principal is Justin Berman. This school was visited by Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson.

Baccalaureate School for Global Education: Baccalaureate School for Global Education (BSGE) is the first public school in New York City to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate (IB), an internationally renowned educational program recognized by colleges around the world. Since opening in 2002, BSGE has served an ethnically diverse and economically varied population of students mainly from Queens. BGSE encourages intellectual and social growth and works to instill a commitment to social justice in its students. This school was visited by Office of Family and Community Engagement Deputy Executive Director Daiana Iqbal.

New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math HS: New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m) is a K-12 Gifted and Talented school that serves students from throughout New York City. Beyond traditional academics, NEST+m aims to develop students' communications skills and expects them to give back to their community through a variety of service opportunities. Opened in 1999, NEST+m's motto is "Amor et reverentia pro scientia" (love and respect for knowledge). Elementary school students study Mandarin once a week; Dr. Olga Livanis, NEST+m's principal, believes it is crucially important to prepare students to compete in a global economy. This school was visited by Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway and Director of Public Affairs Frank Barry.

PS 748 Brooklyn School for Global Scholars: The Brooklyn School for Global Scholars, an elementary school in Bensonhurst, opened its doors in 2010. Principal Ursula Annio developed a program in which students are assigned an advisor for the duration of their time at the school; these relationships provide students with guidance and support on a remarkably individualized level. This school was visited by Chief Academic Officer Shael Suransky.

PS 77 Lower Lab School:
Founded in 1988, the Lower Lab School is an elementary school where students are encourage to develop an inquisitive attitude towards their academic studies. Students are regularly expected to work both independently and in groups to research information and communicate what they've learned to their peers. The Lower Lab School's interdisciplinary curriculum includes music, art, science, and Spanish. Principal Mara Koetke's mission is to provide students with a curriculum that focuses on the analysis of information as well as creating new knowledge. This school was visited by Deputy Chancellor David Weiner.

New York City Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies: The New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies offers a unique learning environment with a philosophy based on four principles: collaboration, academic rigor, diversity and pluralism, and compassion. Teachers encourage students to develop strong decision-making skills in a positive classroom environment. The school's collaborative team teaching program, one of the first to be developed in New York City, is central to the school's work. The Lab Middle School opened its doors to students in 1999. This school was visited by Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson.

Special Music School: The Special Music School, New York City's only K-8 public school for musically gifted children, opened in 1996. In a unique public-private partnership, the music program at the Special Music School is fully funded by private donations to the Kaufman Music Center, while the academic program is provided by the NYC Department of Education. Beginning this fall, the Special Music School will expand into the high school grades at the Martin Luther King Jr. Education Complex on the Upper West Side. Principal Katherine Banucci-Smith, who joined the Special Music School in 2010, studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory. This school was visited by Department of Education Chief Operating Officer Andrew Buher and Chief Financial Officer Mike Tragale.

Scholars' Academy: Scholars' Academy is a 6-12 school on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. Principal Brian O'Connell has been at the school since its inception in 2005. The majority of instruction at Scholars' Academy takes place in a school-wide cooperative group structure - an unusual practice that sets the school apart from its peers. The school's facilities were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012; many students, who live in the immediate area, were severely impacted by the storm as well. Under Principal O'Connell's leadership, Scholars Academy provided students with intensive support and a sense of normalcy in the weeks and months following the storm. This school was visited by Deputy Chief Academic Officer Josh Thomases.

The Active Learning Elementary School: The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), which opened in 2008, serves students in grades prekindergarten through 3rd. The school places emphasis on the importance of health and nutrition education, and has been named one of the healthiest schools in the nation by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. TALES provides a unique physical fitness curriculum that ties in English Language Learning skills with exercise, and is the first school in the United States to serve an entirely vegetarian lunch every day. Principal Robert Groff is a believer in the importance of technology in the classroom, and provides teachers with SMARTboards and iPads. This school was visited by Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.

Success Academy Charter School - Bronx 2: Success Academy Bronx 2 opened in the fall of 2010. Students are provided with a rigorous curriculum that encourages them to explore the world around them. Using college graduation as the end goal, Principal Vanessa Bangser and her staff identify the unique needs of each student to help them succeed. Students participate in hands-on science experiments, learn chess, and go on various field trips. This school was visited by Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford.

East Side Middle School:
Founded in 1999, East Side Middle School is consistently one of the most sought-after middle school options in New York City. Principal David Getz, who has published various children's fiction and nonfiction books, encourages teachers to develop special projects and lesson plans that will engage students. The school places special emphasis on preparing students for high school, and provides students with preparation for the Specialized High School entrance exam. This school was visited by Department of Education Senior Advisor Andrew Kirtzman.

PS 188 Kingsbury:
PS 188 Kingsbury first opened its doors to students in 1952. The school's stated mission is to work collaboratively with students and families to make decisions, and to empower students to provide input on ways to improve the school. Principal Janet Caraisco creates monthly school-wide goals for her students to help them become more conscientious and academically focused. PS 188 places a great deal of importance in the idea of mutual respect and learning to follow rules. This school was visited by Deputy Chief Academic Officer Josh Thomases.

MS 255 Salk School of Science: The Salk School of Science was created in 1995 in a unique partnership between the NYC Department of Education and the NYU Medical Center. Students at the Salk School of Science are encouraged to think like scientists by conducting research and solving problems to improve their communities. Principal Rhonda Perry's goal is for students to graduate with an understanding that science is a way of making sense of the natural world. This school was visited by Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.

PS 203 Oakland Gardens: PS 203 Oakland Gardens has been serving the Bayside community in Queens since 1961. Principal Carole Nussbaum is a veteran New York City educator, having worked in the public school system for the past 51 years. The school has an incredibly active parent association, and there are performances and other events for families throughout the year. The school places a strong emphasis on the arts, which Principal Nussbaum believes are a crucial element of producing well-rounded students. PS 203 was named a Blue Ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education for students' strong academic achievement. This school was visited by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Mark Twain IS 239 for the Gifted and Talented: Twain IS 239, created in 1937, serves students from a diverse range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Principal Karen Ditolla's mission is to promote excellence in achievement in a climate of integrity and respect. She is a believer in using data to inform instruction and identify areas where students are succeeding or need improvement. Students at Twain 239 select a talent area in subjects such as instrumental music, science, and creative writing; each student participates in five talent classes each week. This school was visited by Office of Family and Community Engagement Executive Director Jesse Mojica.

Brooklyn School of Inquiry:
The Brooklyn School of Inquiry, which opened in 2009, is Brooklyn's first citywide gifted and talented school. Principal Donna Taylor and her staff place emphasis on differentiated instruction targeted to students' unique needs, and programs are designed to encourage students to explore and learn independently. The school prides itself on its strong partnerships with community organizations and institutions such as the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and the Brooklyn Historical Society. This school was visited by Chief Academic Officer Shael Suransky.

Success Academy Charter School - Bronx 1: Success Academy Bronx 1's secret to success is parental involvement. All parents are required to agree to read six books per week with their child at home, as well as attend occasional meetings at the school. Parents are also encouraged to observe classes at the school, which opened in 2010. Principal Vanessa Bangser began her career in education working for Teach for America in a school in the Bronx. This school was visited by Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi.

Talented and Gifted School Young Scholars: At TAG Young Scholars, students are encouraged to explore their interests to identify their own unique set of aptitudes and talents. TAG was created in 1999 as an elementary school, and expanded to include a middle school in 2004. Principal Janette Cesar encourages teachers to plan curriculum and instruction based on many forms of data. This school was visited by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

PS 321 William Penn: PS 321's mission is to provide students with the tools they need to become educated and informed global citizens. The school, which opened in 1966, has one of the strongest writing programs in the city, and teaches students early on the importance of revision and editing. Principal Elizabeth Phillips encourages teachers to acknowledge students' unique learning styles, and to provide additional support to children who need it. PS 321 maintains an array of partnerships with New York City organizations including Grow NYC, which helps maintain a school garden that is used by over 30 classes. This school was visited by Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg.

PS 172 Beacon School of Excellence: PS 172 is ranked 26th in New York State, a remarkable achievement for a school that serves a large percentage of high-need students. 90% of students are eligible for free lunch, 25.3% are English Language Learners and 21.7% are students with disabilities. Special education students and general education students learn side-by-side in every class, and speech therapy and other support takes place in the classroom. PS 172 opened in 1914; Principal Jack Spatola has been the school's leader since the mid-1980s. This school was visited by Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg.

PS 199 Jessie Isador Straus:
PS 199's motto is "Work Hard - Be Kind." Students are taught to set high goals for themselves and respect the diverse backgrounds of their peers. The school's literacy curriculum follows a workshop model from Columbia University Teachers College where students work independently, in partnerships and in groups at various points during the year. Partnerships with organizations such as the National Dance Institute, the Lincoln Center Institute and the New York Philharmonic enhance PS 199's rigorous academic program. Principal Katy Rosen started her career at PS 199 as a teacher in 1992. The school has served the Upper West Side of Manhattan since 1963. This school was visited by Department of Education Chief Operating Officer Andrew Buher and Chief Financial Officer Mike Tragale.

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