The principles underlying the second step of the reforms are the same as the principles driving the earliest reforms: Leadership, Empowerment, and Accountability.
Leadership: An organization needs great leaders at all levels to be successful. But while it’s crucial to have strong leaders at all levels of an organization, in education, principals have the most critical leadership position. They are the key school-based decision makers and they must be empowered to make informed decisions and take smart risks. The Chancellor recognizes the importance of principals and is striving to create a system that fosters and supports leadership.
Empowerment: Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, the DOE is empowering all public schools, so that educational decisions are happening in schools, where the people closest to students are deciding what will help students succeed.
Public School Empowerment builds on the Empowerment Schools initiative. Last year, in the 2006-07 school year, 332 New York City public schools took on greater decision-making power and resources in exchange for accepting accountability for results. These “Empowerment Schools” worked under performance agreements, committing to high levels of student achievement with clear consequences for failure. In exchange for this commitment, principals and their teams had the freedom to design educational strategies tailored to their students. These schools have hand-picked their support teams, hired additional teachers, implemented creative schedules, designed tailored assessments, invested in professional development, and purchased both internal and external services that meet their needs and their students’ needs. Initial results were promising, and principals expressed high levels of satisfaction with this new model.
Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, all public schools are empowered, as their principals and their teams gain broader discretion over allocating resources, choosing their staffs, and creating programming for their students. Schools also have increased resources, because of the Department’s new Fair Student Funding formula, which allocates funds based on student need. (To learn more about Fair Student Funding, please click here, and to view your school’s budget, please click here.)
Beginning in 2007-08, principals chose the type of support that is best for them, their staff, and their students. Principals, in consultation with their school communities, selected from among three types of School Support Organizations, all designed to support schools as they work to meet the high standards that the New York City Department of Education has set for them. Schools could choose from three main types of School Support Organizations:
• Empowerment Support Organization
• Learning Support Organizations
• Partnership Support Organizations
These organizations provide many of the same services and supports that were, until now, provided as a matter of course by the Department of Education. Through the regional offices, the Department of Education invested resources and made decisions on behalf of schools. Central and regional decision-making led to uniform solutions, even though each of our schools has unique needs and challenges. While effective at capacity building and bringing coherence to a large system, the one-size-fits-all approach does not maximize the investment in children’s futures.
While all schools are empowered to choose their own supports, they are still public schools, subject to the policies of the Department of Education and other applicable rules and regulations. Schools will continue to adhere to DOE student placement policies, fiscal reporting regulations, special education requirements, labor contracts, Chancellor’s Regulations, and accountability standards, among other things, as determined by the Department of Education. In addition, principals’ rating officers will be the community and high school superintendents.
Accountability: Empowerment and accountability are mutually reinforcing principles. Principals need decision-making power but they also need to set the bar high and they need to be held accountable for results.
In April 2006, the Chancellor launched a comprehensive accountability initiative. (Read the press release here.) This year, all schools will receive progress reports, with grades of A-F, measuring "School Environment," "Performance," and "Progress." Beginning last year, all schools received thorough on-site quality reviews. A school's "Quality Score" will appear on its progress report alongside the school's grade. To learn more about all of our student performance and accountability resources, click here.
Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, all schools are being held accountable for meeting the “statement of performance terms” that they signed. In these documents, they pledge to meet specific targets that will help students make quantifiable progress.
Schools that are not providing their students with the educations they need and deserve will face consequences, while schools that are meeting and exceeding standards will receive rewards.DocumentsChildren First Core Narrative