State Identifies Hundreds of Schools for Improvement, Under New System

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More than 700 schools across New York State have to draft improvement plans in order to continue getting federal funds for the schools, half of which are located in New York City.

The schools were chosen through a new system now that New York has a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law, giving it more flexibility over federal dollars. Schools are no longer labeled Schools in Need of Improvement (SINI) if they don't meet certain performance targets for specific groups of students, such as blacks, Hispanics, and English Language Learners. Instead, the state looks at the bottom 15 percent and labels the schools "priority" or "focus."

The schools no longer have to set aside federal funds for tutoring, but they do have to draft academic improvement plans. Priority schools are in the bottom 5 percent, and have to develop whole school improvement plans that are in sync with the federal government's School Improvement Grants no later than the 2014-15 academic year.

Priority schools in New York City include familiar names. Many of the schools are among those the Bloomberg administration tried to close and reopen this fall, such as Brooklyn's John Dewey High School and Sheepshead Bay High School.

Another 55 schools in New York City were recognized for high performance or great improvement, and they include few surprises. Stuyvesant and Millennium high schools in Manhattan made the cut, along with Bronx High School of Science, the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Public School 89 in Elmhurst, Queens and Public School 321 William Penn in Park Slope. These "Reward Schools" are eligible to compete for a grant of up to $100,000 funded by the federal government.

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott issued this statment:

“The State’s new system more closely resembles the City’s school Progress Reports by recognizing growth and measuring students’ college and career readiness. This year, 55 schools were recognized for their strong performance and fewer schools were identified as struggling. There is still more work to do, and we will continue to support our struggling schools while holding them accountable to the high standards our students deserve.”

The state has posted a complete list of reward, priority schools and focus schools on its Web site.