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middle school quality initiative
August 26, 2016
New York City continues to expand Bloomberg-era middle school literacy program
“They are our laboratories for improvement,” said Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg.
July 29, 2015
Hoping to reduce summer learning loss, city turns to iPads loaded with books
Sarita Parrales didn’t read at all last summer. And when it came time to start seventh grade, she remembered having to scramble.
July 28, 2015
As the city pushes collaboration, demo schools fine-tune their tips
City officials will announce Wednesday that the Showcase Schools program is expanding to 27 schools, up from 21.
time and money
April 7, 2015
City invests in new efforts to help struggling readers, but some say more is needed
The city is planning a $3.2 million program to train teachers how to help students with reading problems. But many schools still offer limited support for such students.
November 19, 2013
Middle school students trade TV for tutoring to boost reading
Tutor Aaron Whidbee with sixth-graders Elijah Parrilla (left) and Manuelle Lamboy, who attend a new extended-day tutoring program at the Highbridge Green School. It was nearly 5 p.m. on a recent chilly November afternoon — in other words, a time of television, text messages, and snacks for most middle-school students. And yet four sixth-graders at the Highbridge Green School in the Bronx were scouring a young-adult novel, “The Skin I’m In,” for clues about the way writers develop their characters. “I would like to add on to what Manuelle said,” said Elijah Parrilla, waiting for a nod from his after-school literacy tutor. “It says, ‘Good writers get close to their characters.’” The tutor, Aaron Whidbee, a former teacher from Yonkers, then asked another question about the chapter, and another student found the right answer. “You guys know what you’re doing here,” Whidbee said. Highbridge is one of 20 district middle schools in a pilot program run by the city and private partners that extends the schools' days by two-and-a-half hours — including an hour of small-group literacy tutoring for some students — in the hopes of raising students’ often alarmingly low reading skills. At Highbridge, for instance, 83 percent of sixth-graders read below grade level when they started the year.
September 13, 2013
Middle schools start longer days with a focus on participation
Students at I.S. 340 played a strategic game of tag called "one step" on Thursday during their extended day, part of a city pilot program. After dismissal on the first day of school at I.S. 30, sixth-graders filed into the auditorium, where Principal Carol Heeraman asked an important question: How many had permission to stay for two and a half more hours? Only a handful of students raised their hands, and the rest were dismissed with instructions to have their parents sign the permission form by the next day. "This is your homework assignment," Heeraman said. I.S. 30 is one of 20 city middle schools to pilot an extended day this year as part of the Department of Education's two-year-old Middle School Quality Initiative. Some schools started the year with near-perfect attendance, but others are learning that getting all students who are eligible for the programming to attend can be a complicated endeavor. In I.S. 30's auditorium, one student raised his hand and asked, “What if my mom doesn’t want me to stay?”
June 10, 2013
City announces the 20 schools that will have longer school days
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have announced the 20 middle schools whose sixth-graders will get extra instruction time starting this fall. These middle schools are part of a 40-school expansion of the Middle School Quality Initiative, which was started by the chancellor two years ago to provide more support for middle schools. The 20 schools with longer days were chosen randomly from 130 schools that requested to be part of the pilot program. With the two and a half hours of extra time, students will have intensive literacy tutoring and other extracurricular activities. The principals from the schools are meeting with department officials today to learn more about the MSQI and the extended learning day program.
April 29, 2013
City to give longer school day, literacy help to middle schoolers
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new phase in the Middle School Quality Initiative at the Urban Institute of Mathematics in the Bronx. For thousands of sixth-graders at 20 city middle schools, the school day is about to get a lot longer. The schools will offer an hour of intensive literacy tutoring and 90 additional minutes of community-inspired programming such as yoga and gardening, as part of the city's latest effort to spur improvements in the lowest-performing middle schools. Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today that they are adding 40 schools to the city's two-year-old Middle School Quality Initiative. Twenty of those schools will be randomly chosen for the three-year extended day pilot program. Walcott made middle schools his priority when he took office, rebranding an initiative that Quinn had spearheaded as MSQI and expanding it to include focuses on literacy, teacher collaboration, and using data to drive instruction. Since then, MSQI has grown from 18 to 49 schools, and in the fall, it will include 89 schools.
October 24, 2012
Even with no model middle school, city expands literacy push
Greg Linton, an 8th grade humanities teacher at M.S. 266, takes notes on his school's literacy data. Nearly a year after beginning their search for an exceptional middle school to lead a push to boost literacy in struggling schools, city officials have concluded that no school is good enough. After the city launched its Middle School Quality Initiative last year, it selected two dozen underperforming schools to receive special training and thousands of dollars in program funding. Then it picked more successful schools to be "anchors" that would teach them. Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School became a model for teacher collaboration, and schools were sent to M.S. 244 to learn about using data to detect signs that students are at-risk. The city also wanted to push the 23 schools on literacy, where their students especially lagged. But officials said they could find no middle school strong enough to use as the emblem of the literacy initiative. "There isn't an anchor we could turn to to say, 'Show us the magic of how it's all done together,'" said Nancy Gannon, the department official overseeing MSQI. Nonetheless, as MSQI expanded from 24 schools at first (six with only partial funding) to 49 this year, the department also expanded the initiative’s literacy program. The schools are getting extra funds and monthly trainings focused exclusively on literacy, in a program that officials consider it the most significant part of the citywide initiative.
April 3, 2012
A year in office, Walcott trumpets his middle schools initiative
Efforts to improve the city's middle schools have come a long way since they were announced six months ago, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said today in a policy speech delivered days before his one-year anniversary of his sudden appointment. Walcott returned to the same venue where he first announced the middle school reforms — New York University’s Kimmel Center – to deliver the keynote speech at a middle school colloquium hosted by NYU Steinhardt’s Research Alliance for New York City Schools. In his speech, Walcott said the city was in the process of rolling out a host of initiatives that the the Department of Education had either created or expanded since September, all in the interest of improving middle schools, which he said had become his main priority during his tenure. “If we truly care about preparing our students for success in college and careers, middle school needs to be a central focus of our policies,” Walcott said. Walcott announced that the DOE had allocated about $500,000 to develop new training programs for 150 teachers and 10 principals who he hoped would work specifically in middle schools. And he said the city would exceed his goal of creating 50 new middle schools in the next two years. Twenty-six new middle schools, including 14 charter schools, will open next fall and 28 more schools — including another 14 charters — are set to open in 2013.
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