New York City

Fariña: Progress on programs to prepare NYC students for college and careers

Changes rolling out beginning this spring

February 9, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Photo by Mary Frost
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NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on Tuesday described the progress the city has made on an ambitious bundle of programs designed to better prepare the city’s students for college and careers.

The administration’s goals are long-term: City schools are aiming for an 80 percent high school graduation rate by 2026, with two-thirds of grads college-ready. Another goal is to have all students reading by the second grade.

The city hopes to accomplish these through eight new initiatives, collectively known as the Equity and Excellence agenda, first laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio last September.

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Plans have been put in the works to begin piloting many of these initiatives this spring.

The eight initiatives are: Universal 2nd Grade Literacy, Algebra for All, AP for All, Computer Science for All, College Access for All in Middle School and High School, Single Shepherd and new District-Charter Learning Partnerships.

The program builds on the administration’s current initiatives, including Pre-K for All, which provides every four-year-old with free, full-day pre-K, and the 130 new Community Schools, which emphasize partnerships and provide “wrap-around services” for disadvantaged students.

The city’s graduation rate edged up last year to 70 percent and the dropout rate declined slightly, despite toughening standards, according to the city.

“These are bold reforms that will improve students’ education and futures by starting early, supporting strong teachers and rigorous curriculum, and engaging communities in the work ahead,” Fariña said in a statement. “There is tremendous progress already on these initiatives, and I look forward to building on that alongside educators and families to ensure an equitable and excellent school system.”

About each initiative

Under the Universal 2nd Grade Literacy plan, every elementary school will receive support from a dedicated reading coach, Farina said. The new reading coaches will receive intensive training this summer and, in September, they will be assigned to over 100 elementary schools in four high-needs districts – Districts 9 and 10 in the Bronx, and Districts 17 and 32 in Brooklyn.

In Algebra for All, every student will complete algebra no later than ninth grade. By 2022, all students will have access to algebra in eighth grade, and there will be academic supports in place in elementary and middle schools to build greater algebra readiness. More than 150 teachers from fifth to tenth grade will return to their classrooms in September with expanded expertise in math instruction.

In AP for All, every high school student will have access to a range of Advanced Placement courses. The first new AP courses will be added in fall 2016; by fall 2021, students at all high schools will have access to at least five AP classes. This spring, targeted high schools will be identified to launch new AP courses in September.  

Under the Computer Science for All plan, the goal is that every student will receive computer science education in elementary, middle, and high school by 2025. The city has released applications to add over 50 new middle and high-school programs in September, an expansion of the Software Engineering Program and the AP Computer Science Principles course, along with a number of other programs.

In the College Access for All – Middle School plan, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus. The program will pilot this spring in roughly 20 schools. In September, about 150 middle schools will roll out the program, including in Districts 14, 18, and 19 in Brooklyn.

Under College Access for All – High School, every student will receive individually tailored supports at their high school to pursue a path to college. By 2018, every student will graduate from high school with an individual college and career plan. Up to 150 high schools will receive training and resources starting in September. Next month, 92 schools are participating in the pilot free SAT School Day, which will be expanded to all high schools next school year. 

In the Single Shepherd plan, every student in grades 6-12 in Districts 7 and 23 – 16,000 students — will be paired with a dedicated guidance counselor or social worker who will support them through graduation and college enrollment.

Finally, under District-Charter Learning Partnerships, district and charter schools will be paired to foster stronger relationships and sharing of best practices. The first partnerships are being put into place at 20 schools this spring.  

The city says that the Department of Education will bring detailed implementation plans to parent and community organizations for feedback this spring.

More detailed information on the Equity and Excellence agenda is available online at: http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/schools/equityandexcellence/.


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