Mayor Michael Bloomberg has less than a year to go before the end of his 12-year reign of New York City. I believe the mayor’s remaining time in office should be spent solidifying his educational initiatives.
To begin, the mayor should not close any more schools. We are one system and we should have one vision: to ensure all students pre-K through 12th grade are prepared for college and careers. If one school fails then we all fail. In order to offer more support to schools, and students, below I offer my check list for what the mayor should do during his remaining months in office:
— Support Schools: All schools are sorted into peer groups of 30-40 schools based on one year’s worth of data. I would like to see the mayor devise his own support system for the schools based on the available data. Data can assess a school’s strengths and weaknesses but it is only useful if it helps a school get better.
— Encourage Peer Mentors: I would like to see schools in peer groups mentor other schools in their peer groups. For example, the schools with A’s and B’s in each peer group should be grouped with schools in the peer without grades (because they are new) and with grades lower than a B. The mayor should fund collaborative professional development for these schools with the goal of bringing all the schools in one peer group up to a B grade or higher.
— Open Access to SHSAT: New York City’s specialized high schools are regarded by many as some of the best high schools in the country. Equity and access to the exam and the specialized schools all remain an issue. The mayor should use a similar approach to the specialized exam that the city used for the PSAT. All eighth graders should take the specialized high school exam during their school day and their average scores should be reported just as the SAT average scores are reported and shared with the public. The results of the specialized exam should become one of the high school readiness metrics.
— Pay Testing Fees: I would like the mayor to pay for the cost of two SAT-1 and two SAT subject exams for all students. The city could make sure that enough fee waivers existed to cover the costs of exams for all students as they relate to preparation for college.
— Use PSAT Data: The city provides the PSAT to all 10th and 11th graders and now it is time to report their average scores on the school report card and reward the growth from grade 10 to 11. Additionally, it should be noted how many students are meeting college-readiness based on PSAT results from grades 10 and 11.
— Report GPA’s: The city should include students’ grade point averages on a college readiness metric. There is growing research that says students earning a grade point average of 80 or higher over four years in high school are on track to successfully graduate college within four years.
Rashid F. Davis is principal of Pathways in Technology Early College High School.