PRESS RELEASE

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** January 7, 2015

REPORT: WEAK CITY PLANS FOR FAILING SCHOOLS LEAVE UP TO 37 SCHOOLS AT RISK OF CLOSING AFTER THIS YEAR

With 14 New York City Schools Already in “Out of Time” Status, City Proposes Weak Plans for Struggling Schools that Could Lead to Closure for Dozens More

Analysis Shows Mayor de Blasio’s Action on Failing Schools Inadequate, Highlights Urgent Need for Bolder Intervention

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New York, NY— Following a New York Post report revealing that 14 failing city schools were designated as “Out of Time” by the state and could be closed in a few months, a new analysis of the city’s school improvement plans for 247 struggling Focus and Priority schools submitted in December reveals that absent or inadequate student achievement goals could leave up to 37 schools in imminent jeopardy of state-prescribed “Out of Time” status — and closure — after this year.

Of New York City’s Priority Schools—schools ranked among the bottom 5% in the state—37 schools are in their third year of Priority School status and have proposed weak achievement goals for 2014-2015 that leave them in jeopardy of becoming “Out of Time” schools. Out of Time schools have exceeded their three-year window for improvement and could be closed.

The findings, which come on the heels of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s call for expanded state authority to intervene in low-performing schools, raise serious concerns about the adequacy of the city’s school improvement plans and Mayor de Blasio’s approach to New York City’s failing schools crisis. With the city either refusing to set goals for student achievement or setting them so low that dozens of failing schools are likely to be considered for closure at the end of this year, the state Education Department will have ample reason to reject the submitted plans and demand stronger ones.

“I attended one of these schools and my mom had to fight to find another school for me,” said student Cassandra Santiago. “Still, many of my friends are stuck in a failing school, and these plans basically guarantee that won’t change.”

“We have a failing schools crisis where every day matters,” said Christine Jackson, Harlem parent. “So it’s just hard to understand why the city isn’t even trying to fix these schools this year.”

“The city’s plan is no plan at all. The submitted goals are so weak that they leave dozens of schools at risk of closure,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools, which conducted the analysis. “The state should reject these plans in favor of bolder reforms that immediately empower parents to choose better schools.”

Snapshot:

  • As required by law, New York City submitted school improvement plans to the state Education Department for 247 Focus and Priority schools on December 19, 2014 — nearly five months after their original July 31 due date.
  • 37 schools are in their third year of Priority School status and have nonexistent or incremental achievement goals in their plans. Schools with absent or inadequate goals are exceedingly unlikely to make sufficient academic progress during the rest of this year to be removed from the Priority School list.
  • Priority schools that are not in good academic standing after three years become state-designated Out of Time schools and are subject to intervention options that include closing and/or replacing the school.
  • The state Education Department must decide whether to approve or reject the submitted plans and has the power to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to ensure that the city has an adequate response for its low-performing schools.
    Key Findings:

In New York City, there are 37 Priority Schools at Risk of Out of Time Status This Year:

22* Priority Elementary Schools at Risk of Out of Time Status

  • A full 86% of elementary/middle schools in this category have nonexistent or incremental goals heading into Year 3 of Priority School status.
  • No Goals: 50% of the elementary/middle schools don’t have any performance goals in their plans.  At these schools, an average of 6% of students were able to pass state English Language Arts and math proficiency exams.
  • Incremental Goals: 36% of the elementary/middle schools have a performance goal of improving the proficiency rate of the overall student body by less than 10 percentage points on the state exams.

17* Priority High Schools at Risk of Out of Time Status

  • A full 65% of high schools in this category have nonexistent or incremental goals heading into Year 3 of Priority School status.
  • No Goals: 12% of the high schools don’t have any performance goals in their plans.  At these schools, only 6% of students graduated with the academic proficiency to be considered ready for college.
  • Incremental Goals: 53% of the high schools call for an improvement of less than 10 percentage points in both overall Regents exam pass rates and graduation rates.

*Henry Street School and Juan Morel Campos Secondary School are grades 6-12 and cover both middle and high school grades.