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IBM and Gates Foundation Fund College-Readiness Programs in NYC Schools

Monday, September 27, 2010

The City University of New York and IBM will open a new high school for grades 9 through 14, as part of a larger initiative to improve graduation rates and college readiness.

The school is still in the planning stages. But the city's Department of Education says it will eventually serve between 500-600 students and that they won't be academically screened. It will emphasize traditional subjects along with computer science and enable students to earn an associate's degree.
   
Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement at NBC's "Education Nation" summit, where he said the new school would give students more preparation for college and work.
   
"When they graduate from grade 14 with an associate's degree and a qualified record, they will be guaranteed a job with IBM and a ticket to the middle class, or even beyond," the mayor stated.

IBM is giving the city $250,000 to create the school. CUNY already has several programs on high school campuses where students can earn college credit. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also giving the city $3 million as part of a broader effort to double college completion rates by 2020. More than 70 percent of city students need remedial math or English courses when they enter CUNY's community colleges.

New York City is among four recipients of the Gates Foundation's Communities Learning in Partnership grant. The others are San Francisco and Riverside, CA and Mesa, AZ. New York City will use the funds on a task force to align academic standards between the city's public schools and CUNY's community colleges; better academic counseling; and to develop a benchmark for college readiness. This last tool could become part of the data system the city relies on for grading its public schools.

New York City has also been awarded a $36 million Teacher Incentive Fund to encourage highly-skilled teachers to work in low-performing schools and to mentor their colleagues. Some of these teachers will be higher-paid Master and Turnaround teachers working in low-performing high schools that have been awarded federal School Improvement Grants.

Meanwhile, the city is working on a new rating system for measuring which teachers are most effective and for determining which ones should get tenure. Beginning this year, only teachers rated "effective" or "highly effective" will be eligible. Tenure may be rewarded in the third year of teaching.

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