51 Middle Schools Showed Significant Academic Gains Compared To Other Middle Schools Throughout The City

City Hall – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson today released a report that New York City’s middle schools have shown greater improvement on State English language arts (ELA) and math tests than the citywide average. These gains come on the heels of targeted middle school initiatives by the City Council. The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) contributed to the analysis of this report. Read the report here.

In 2007, the Mayor secured a $5 million fund allowing 51 high-need middle schools to implement recommendations of the Council’s Middle School Task Force. A year later, the Council partnered with the Department of Education, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice and other advocates to launch the Campaign for Middle School Success, a comprehensive initiative to improve the City’s 500 middle schools. The Campaign for Middle School Success was designed to provide middle school educators with the support and financial resources they need to serve adolescent students.

Research indicates that middle school performance has a strong impact on students’ success in high school and beyond. Middle school students who score a Level 3 or 4 in eighth grade in both ELA and Math are more than three times as likely to graduate from high school with a Regents diploma than those who score a low Level 2. Additionally, middle school students who are not engaged in school are much less likely to graduate from high school.

“This report says that our efforts to turn around some of the lowest performing middle schools in New York City has been successful,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “As indicated by the numbers in the report, these schools have really improved in English and Math scores compared to other middle schools throughout the city, so I’m gratified. We’ve been proud to work with the CEJ, UFT, CSA and the DOE to help high need middle schools implement recommendations of our Middle School Task Force. And we’re already seeing incredible results, with our targeted schools showing greater gains than the citywide average.”

Over the course of two years, from 2007-2008 and 2008 and 2009, an analysis of the percentage of students receiving scores of either 3 or 4 on their ELA and Math tests revealed the following:

• The 51 schools that have been receiving funding for two years have seen the percentage of students scoring 3 or 4 on ELA tests increase 24 points over that time period, compared to an average increase of 21 points citywide.

• The percentage of students at those 51 schools scoring 3 or 4 on Math tests increased by an average 30 percentage points over two years, compared to a citywide increase of 20 percentage points.

• Out of the 51 middle schools that have been receiving funding for the last two years, middle schools posted a 95% increase in students meeting ELA standards while the same holds true for students meeting Mathematic standards posting a 96% increase.

The majority of the MS 51 schools started off among the lowest achieving schools in the city, so it’s appropriate to consider achievement results within this context to exemplify just how far these have come.

“The progress these schools have made in such a short period of time is simply remarkable,” said Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson. “It goes to show that any student can excel when given the proper support. By combining additional funding with tried and tested measures tailored to schools’ individual needs, we are making an investment in our students that will pay off in high school and beyond.”

The parents of CEJ had a vision that the lowest performing middle schools, when given necessary support could become successful schools. When city council, the UFT, the DOE, and CEJ, along with the schools themselves, were able to collaborate, we were able to develop a comprehensive approach that has been proven to work. We urge the DOE, the City Council, and the Mayor to ensure funding to sustain the initiative in current schools and to bring it to scale in others. When something works and is this important to high school and college success, let’s keep it going.” Carol Boyd, CEJ Parent Leader.

“The 51 low performing schools that received City Council money for middle school reform have made significant improvement on state ELA and Math exams, as well as changing the school culture, thanks in large part to the development of a comprehensive education plan that involved the staff at the schools,” said Richard Farkas, Vice President for Middle Schools for the UFT. “We are asking for the Mayor, Chancellor and Council to include these funds in their budgets so that these schools, as well as new ones, can continue this progress.”

“Historically, our middle school students have been the most forgotten children in our system. Now, we’ve finally provided these schools with the attention and extra funding necessary to make significant changes, and that’s exactly what we are seeing. However, the city is threatening to pull the rug out from under them and we can’t allow this,” said Ernest Logan, CSA President.