News and Speeches

Schools Chancellor Walcott and City Council Speaker Quinn Announce Pilot Program to Extend School Day & Expansion of Middle School Quality Initiative

04/29/2013

12,000 Additional Students Across 40 Schools Will Benefit From $6.2 Million Expansion

20 Schools Will Participate in an Innovative Model Combining Extended Day With Additional Reading Tutoring

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced today an expansion of the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), a comprehensive program that focuses on strengthening literacy instruction in all middle school grades. As a part of the program’s expansion, city officials also announced a new pilot program in 20 of the schools that will use an innovative model to extend the school day and offer intense literacy training for high needs middle school students. Chancellor Walcott and Speaker Quinn were joined at the Urban Institute of Mathematics in the Bronx by Council Members James Vacca and Annabel Palma, DOE Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky, Robin Hood Foundation Chief Program Officer Michael Weinstein, the President of The After School Corporation (TASC) Lucy Friedman and Harvard Ed Labs Chief Academic Officer Meghan Howard.

In 2007, the City Council convened a task force that included academics, unions, the DOE, parents, CBOs, and former principals to produce the Middle School Task Force Report.  This report was adapted into the Blueprint for Middle School Success, which the DOE currently uses.  The current Middle School Quality Initiative grew out of that work and is still overseen by the Task Force.  Introduced in 2011 with 18 schools, MSQI has deepened instruction in grades 6-8, and currently works with 49 schools across the city. School leaders, teachers, and networks receive professional development on Common Core-aligned literacy strategies and promising practices. MSQI schools also receive targeted funding for literacy-focused training and instructional materials. This fall, 40 additional schools will take part in the initiative – bringing the total number of MSQI participating schools to 89. By year three, the expansion will benefit approximately 12,000 additional students.

Most significantly, the expansion of MSQI will provide the opportunity to develop a new model for accelerating middle grade students’ progress toward meeting Common Core literacy standards. Through a partnership with The After School Corporation (TASC) and the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University (EdLabs), participating middle schools will be able to offer their students an additional twelve hours per week of literacy-focused support embedded within an engaging, high-interest extended learning day. This model could play an important role in our City's progress toward ensuring that all graduating 8th graders leave middle school securely on the pathway to college and career success.

MSQI’s expansion next year is made possible through $4.65 million in grants provided by Robin Hood and the New York City Council, with the help of other funders. The New York Department of Education is also contributing $1.55 million dollars to the expansion.

This year alone, MSQI facilitated over 78 days of professional development and supported more than 400 educators. The initial results of the program are promising – and for the students who need it most: On nationally-normed assessments of reading comprehension, students who attend schools participating in MSQI are on track to exceed the average annual growth of middle school students nationwide. Further, evidence shows that students who severely struggled with reading demonstrated 1.5 grade levels of progress between February and June of 2012. These severely at-risk students reaped the greatest gains due to MSQI efforts, substantially exceeding the annual benchmarks set for their peers nationwide.

Of the 40-school MSQI expansion, 20 of those schools will participate in TASC/EdLabs’ innovative learning model. TASC will work with community-based organizations across the city to offer students high-dosage reading tutoring and an array of learning activities aligned with students' interests and affinities through an extended school day. An estimated 2,000 students per year over the next three years will participate in this component of the program. EdLabs will work with the Department to design the reading tutoring model, and will also evaluate the project and identify effective practices that can be shared across middle schools citywide and beyond. The 20 schools, which have not yet been identified, will be randomly selected from among a pool of applicants. The program, like MSQI as a whole, will be targeted at middle schools across the City that serve high-needs students.

By the end of next school year, MSQI will have served approximately 27,000 students total. The Department hopes to build on the early success of the program and see even greater gains for students participating in the new extended day and reading tutoring components of the program.

“The Middle School Quality Initiative has exemplified the innovative way we’ve improved New York City public schools,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “We’re closing the achievement gap – and we’re doing it through strategic models. The MSQI has been central in preparing students for college and careers by sharing best practices across our system of great schools. What started in 18 schools will expand to 89 this fall – and MSQI will benefit thousands of current and future middle school students. I want to thank the New York City Council, Robin Hood, The After School Corporation, and Harvard Ed Labs for their enormously generous support. Their support is central to getting our students on a path to college and careers.”

“Improving our city’s middle schools is vital to helping close the achievement gap and putting kids on a better track toward educational success,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Through the expansion of the successful Middle School Quality Initiative and our innovative program to extend the school day and offer intense literacy training to high needs kids, both students and teachers will soon benefit immensely. I want to thank Robin Hood, The After School Corporation, Harvard Ed Labs, the Department of Education and members of the Middle School Task Force for their continued dedication to improving New York City’s schools.”

“Robin Hood is proud to partner with the Department of Education to bring EdLabs of Harvard University to New York City to improve literacy among our students,” said Michael Weinstein, Chief Program Officer of Robin Hood. “Literacy rates are an important indicator of future earning potential, and this simple intervention can go a long way toward reducing poverty among at-risk students.”

“Evidence from programs in Houston and Denver public schools suggests that intensive daily tutoring can dramatically improve the academic performance of at-risk students,” said Roland Fryer, Robert F. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University and Faculty Director of Harvard EdLabs. “In these programs, 6th and 9th graders who received an hour of math tutoring every day made gains equivalent to four to six additional months of schooling in a single school year. Harvard EdLabs is excited to partner with New York City to examine the potential gains for this model for reading skills for middle school students.”

“Parents want schools to do three things: help their kids develop the knowledge and critical thinking skills they need for future careers, inspire them to discover their talents and learn to love reading and learning, and give them the help they need to be and do their best,” said Lucy Friedman, President of The After-School Corporation. “This initiative delivers on all three, thanks to the leadership of the City Council and Speaker Quinn, the Department of Education and Chancellor Walcott, and all the public and private partners who are coming together to expand learning time and opportunities in New York City middle schools.”

“Middle school years are a critical turning point and with state exams getting tougher this year, our students need all the help they can get,” said Council Member James Vacca. “At a time when after-school programs continue to end up on the chopping block, extending school time will
provide much needed tutoring for our children and relief to working parents.”

“We are pleased that the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI) will expand to include an additional 40 middle schools in the 2013-2014 school year,” said Mark Cannizzaro, Executive Vice President at CSA and member of the Council’s Middle School Task Force. “We thank the MSQI partners, especially the City Council and Speaker, for recognizing that our young adolescents require an education tailored to their unique talents, interests and needs. We further thank them for their ongoing commitment to working side by side with us to provide such an environment for our students. We look forward to the continued sharing of best practices in middle level education and to achieving the goal of widespread success for our middle school students.”

“The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice is gratified to hear about the expansion of the Middle School Quality Initiative,” said Lynn Sanchez, Parent Leader at the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice. “CEJ parents have been championing the needs of middle schools and the benefits of expanded learning time and learning opportunities since 2007 when we fought to create the NYC Council's Middle School Task Force and the Campaign for Middle School Success. These new funds will enhance the MSQI's current focus on literacy and intensive supports to school staff and will make a crucial difference to struggling students and schools. We know middle schools need hands-on support, and CEJ hopes that these new resources will allow the MSQI to build on what parents and educators know works and finally raise achievement in these next 40 and then soon after, all of our city's struggling  middle schools.”