Press Release 9.25


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Amid Hundreds of Failing Schools in New York City, Barely 5% of High-Poverty, Majority of-Color Schools Show Progress in Helping Students Succeed

Ahead of Major Parent Rally on October 2nd in NYC, Focus Shifts to Inaction on City & State Level to Expand Access to High Quality Schools

New York, NY – A report released by Families for Excellent Schools Thursday, “A Tale of Two Schools” (attached), reveals that only a handful of high-poverty, majority of-color schools in the city are achieving proficiency for even half of their students on grades 3-8 state English and Math exams. Only 5%, or 46, of majority of-color, Title I schools—schools that federally qualify as “high-poverty”—are delivering a quality education by achieving more than 50% proficiency with their underserved student populations, while nearly twice as many—87—failed nine out of ten students in 2013 while backsliding or failing to improve this rate by even one percentage point in 2014. The small number of successful schools—fully half, or 23, of which are public charter schools—points to a lack of action by city and state leaders to expand access to and create more high-performing schools.

The report, which follows yesterday’s announcement of an October 2nd rally against persistent school failure in New York City, examines pairs of schools serving similar majority of-color, high-poverty student populations within the same community school district that produce dramatically different student achievement results. Of the 925 schools surveyed, only 46 had an average proficiency rate in math and English above 50%, with several showing extraordinarily high proficiency rates even with extremely disadvantaged student populations. However, at the other extreme, 185 of these schools had proficiency rates below 10%.

Without bold, urgent action from leaders to hold failing schools accountable and to scale the number of high-quality schools across the city, the education crisis threatens to exacerbate Mayor de Blasio’s “Tale of Two Cities.” This inequity only widens the gulf between our most affluent residents and the numbers of poor students of color who are being denied the education they deserve. Parents are calling on city and state leaders to work urgently to provide a comprehensive, forward-thinking plan to increase the number of successful seats.

“It’s heartbreaking for parents to see their child being denied an education,” said Nicole Pacheco Rosario, parent in Coney Island. “It’s wrong that there are only a few successful schools, and no one is doing much to create more of them.”

“My sister’s daughter is in a great school far from me, but I can’t afford to move ,” says Harlem parent Omar Quintero.  “Why are there so few good schools and so many bad ones where I live? They’re not safe, not clean. You can see no one cares.”

“This report reveals how widespread and deepfailure is in our school system. It’s important that elected leaders act urgently to scale the handful of quality schools,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools. “Even in our highest-need neighborhoods, we know what success looks like. We need to create more of these quality schools if we want to have any shot at genuine equality and opportunity in New York.”

Key Statistics:

  • Of the 923 schools that are Title I (high-poverty) eligible, with majority of-color students, and have at least one testing grade, only 46 have an average proficiency rate in English and Math of above 50%. Fully half—23—of these schools are public charter schools.
  • Of schools that are Title I eligible, with majority of-color students, and have at least one testing grade, 185 have an average proficiency rate in English and Math of below 10%.
  • Of the 257 elementary and middle schools where less than 10% of students met academic standards in 2013, 87 failed to improve by even one percentage point in 2014.
  • In 2013, there were nearly 143,000 students trapped in schools where less than 1 in 10 students were proficient in English and Math. (See “Forgotten Fourth” report here.)

Families for Excellent Schools harnesses the power of families to advance policy and political changes that create and sustain excellent schools.
On Twitter at: @Fam4ExcSchools