Mayor Bloomberg Announces Partnerships with IBM and Gates Foundation Support City’s Goal of Doubling College Completion Rates for Graduates

September 28, 2010 | The University

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg kicked off  NBC’s “Education Nation” summit today by announcing plans to prepare every New York City student for college and careers in an increasingly competitive global economy.

To ensure that every child has access to an effective teacher, the City will use a $36 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant from the US Department of Education (USDOE) to enlist highly-skilled teachers to work in low-performing schools and mentor fellow instructors. New technology and strategies that help personalize learning for every child will lead to the creation of 400 Innovation Schools over the next three years.

The City will also change the way it grants tenure, moving to a rating system that will ensure tenure is linked to classroom performance. The City will also launch new partnerships with the private sector, including one with IBM and the City University of New York.  Working together, the partnership will open a new school that runs from grades 9 through 14, allowing students to earn an Associate’s Degree and be first in line for a job at IBM. The City will also create a joint task force, supported by a $3 million award from the Gates Foundation, to focus on aligning standards between the City’s K-12 public schools and community colleges in an effort to double college completion rates by the end of the decade.

“Each and every one of us has a role to play in taking an education system that has fallen far behind the times, and moving it into the 21st century,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New York City is stepping up to that challenge and laying the foundation to ensure that every child who graduates high school is ready to start college or a career.  By rewarding teachers who make a real difference, bringing technology into our classrooms and creating partnerships with the private sector, we will build upon the improvements we have made over the last eight years and give New York City children the future they deserve.”

Intensifying its focus on teacher quality and effectiveness, the City plans to redouble its efforts to place a high-quality teacher in every classroom. Last week, New York City received a $36 million grant as part of the USDOE’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) competition, which it will use to target struggling students by placing a cohort of “master teachers” and “turnaround teachers” in low-performing schools. The money will be directed toward added compensation for both types of instructors – an additional 30 percent salary bonus for master teachers, and 15 percent for turnaround teachers – who have demonstrated significant gains in student achievement. The City will also expand its “executive principal” program, deploying ten additional principals to improve outcomes for students in struggling schools.

The City will also implement a four-tier rating system for determining whether a teacher should be awarded the lifetime job protections that come with tenure. Beginning this year, only teachers rated “effective” or “highly effective” will be eligible for tenure. This will transform the tenure system from one in which tenure is taken for granted, to one in which it must be earned through effective performance in the classroom. Tenure may be awarded in the third year, or any time thereafter, always contingent on whether a teacher has made a significant impact on student achievement.

“The crisis in our schools is urgent, but not dire,” said Chancellor Klein. “If we take bold steps – challenge traditional classroom models and hiring practices, raise standards and create a bridge to college and employment – then we can truly make a difference in our nation’s future.”

“Too many of our children are falling through the cracks and not getting the education they need,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “By implementing a combination of public investments and partnerships with private foundations, the City will be able to advance bold reforms, redefine common practices in public education and give children the education they deserve.”

To empower teachers to meet the needs of every individual child, the City has begun to pilot a range of innovations in 80 schools – in technology, time spent in the classroom, and instructional delivery. Forty schools will pilot a “virtual school” model that integrates online learning with face-to-face classroom instruction, allowing students to learn at their own pace. Seven schools will pilot innovations in the way schools use time and staffing, implementing new ways to extend the school year and increase time spent in the classroom. And, 30 schools will be introducing technology that helps teachers evaluate student progress in real time. By increasing the number of Innovation Schools to 400 over the next three years, New York City willfundamentally change the way teachers are able to support student learning. Rather than spending the day lecturing to a room full of students, teachers will be able to use technology to tailor assignments to students’ learning styles and needs by working with them as individuals, in small teams, or on projects specifically designed for them.

In the midst of an increasingly competitive global economy, the City will also continue its move toward raising standards to prepare students for college or careers in the 21st century. In 2008, the City University of New York and the Department of Education, supported by a range of community organizations, initiated a partnership focused on raising standards, sharing data, and measuring the success of students who graduate from City high schools. Today, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National League of Cities announced that they would recognize this partnership with a $3 million grant, making New York City one of four recipients of the foundation’s Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) Implementation Grant; the other recipients are San Francisco and Riverside, California, and Mesa, Arizona. New York City will use the award to align academic standards between high schools and City community colleges; better coordinate academic counseling; and work to develop a common benchmark for measuring college readiness, which may be used in the City’s accountability system for grading schools at all levels.

“We are deeply grateful to the Gates Foundation for its generous support of CUNY and its partners as we seek to prepare students for the extraordinary challenges of the 21st Century,”  said City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.  “All of us know that without proper preparation and support in grades K-12, followed by strong academic programs in college, earning a degree will be a challenge for any student. All K-16 educators must work together – consistently and openly – to reach every student. While we have forged a strong collaboration with the City Department of Education, the purpose of this grant is to further align our two systems, to insure that high school students, upon graduation, are college ready for college work. Only then can we maximize college success as defined by increased graduation rates. With the help of this generous grant, we are well on our way to not only enhance our partnership, but also to move closer to our goal of doubling the numbers of students graduating from all of our community colleges over the next ten years.”

With the generous support of IBM, the Department of Education and City University of New York will also work jointly to develop a school that runs from grade 9 through the equivalent of grade 14. Students will receive instruction in the traditional core subjects, while also learning the basics of computer science. All students will have the opportunity to graduate from grade 14 with an Associate’s Degree and possible job placement with IBM.

The City will also work with state legislators to remove antiquated laws that require schools to purchase printed textbooks and force students to study subject matter even after they have mastered the material.

Over the last 8 years, New York City’s 1.1 million students have made progress. Graduation rates have gone up 16 percentage points, and our African American and Hispanic students have closed the ethnic achievement gap on state tests by 37 percent in reading and 18 percent in math. The proposals outlined today will look to improve student proficiency in grades K-12 and double the CUNY 4-year graduation rate by 2020.