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Beyond School Closings

May 21, 2010

On Monday, New York State school districts will start submitting their applications for School Improvement Grants (SIG) to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools.  Parents and community members from the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) urge the DOE use these funds to invest in proven school improvement strategies and establish a School Transformation Zone to support NYC’s 34 SIG schools and other low-performing schools.

 A new policy brief released by CEJ today, Beyond School Closings: Effective Alternatives for Low-Performing Schools, documents the lack of research support for school closings as a school improvement strategy, and profiles successful models of school improvement that have greatly increased student achievement without the damaging side effects inflicted by closings. This research shows that the turnaround process is most successful when it is guided by three elements practiced together:

1.  A collaborative approach that creates local ownership and accountability

2. A focus on instructional – not just structural – change, capacity building and school culture

3. Recognition and coordination of supports for the whole student

 The School Transformation Zone that CEJ proposes would draw from successful models by implementing comprehensive reform plans to develop a school’s capacity for the long run through:

  • Expanded school day and year for students
  • Rigorous, well-rounded college and career-preparatory curriculum for all students
  • Increased planning and professional development time for teachers
  • Comprehensive, integrated support services for students
  • Active parent and community involvement in decision-making

School Improvement Grant applications can be submitted to NYSED until June 11th and districts will receive approval of funds before the end of the school year. The NYC City Council will vote on a Resolution in support of the Zone on Tuesday, May 25th.

Click here to read the CEJ policy brief on school turnaround

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