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Klein to principals: Failing students need "extra attention" in fall

Thousands of city students who failed their math and reading exams and should have been held back can expect “extra attention” from their schools in the fall, but no formal city-mandated assistance.

That’s the message of a memo Schools Chancellor Joel Klein sent principals this afternoon.

“I expect each of your teacher teams to continue to identify your students’ areas of strength and areas that require extra attention,” Klein wrote. “This is particularly critical for those students who received low scores but did not participate in summer school, and I urge you to work with those families closely to provide the support they need.”

His message echoed what Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference yesterday.

“We’re going to tell the schools to keep an eye on these kids,” Bloomberg said, saying he did not know how much more remediation schools could provide. “Less money means fewer employees, and we’re just going to have to find ways to do more things with less,” he said.

Klein’s full email to principals and letter to parents is below:

From: Klein Joel I.
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 5:00 PM
To: &All Principals
Subject: Yesterday’s Test Scores Announcement

Dear Colleagues:

As you know, yesterday the State released the results of the annual New York State math and English Language Arts (ELA) exams for students in grades three through eight.

This year, the State changed the way the tests were graded, holding students to a considerably higher bar than in previous years. As a result, a scaled score that last year was high enough to earn a rating of 3, or “proficient,” may only have earned a rating of 2, or “basic,” this year. The tougher grading system resulted in a significant drop in overall ratings across the entire State, and here in the City, our schools saw a big decrease as well.

Despite the drop in overall ratings, New York City students this year generally earned ELA and math scaled scores that were consistent with last year’s results. And whichever way the scores are cut, whether using this year’s method or last year’s, our students are undeniably making dramatic progress — see the attached chart (entitled “2010 Math ELA NYC Highlights”).

I know that for many of us, receiving considerably fewer proficient scores is dispiriting and disappointing. But we must see this not as a roadblock, but as an important next step in our commitment at every grade level to graduating all students ready to succeed after high school.

I applaud the State’s effort to continue to raise the bar and set higher standards for our students. Together with the new Common Core standards, we can help our students take that next big step to a whole new level of learning. With more writing, problem solving, and critical thinking, you and your colleagues will better connect learning across different subject areas and grade levels.
I ask each of you to lead your school communities in analyzing the data and in galvanizing them for the work ahead. These results will challenge all of us to make the necessary adjustments to curriculum and supports for students so that they can reach and eventually exceed the higher standards. I expect each of your teacher teams to continue to identify your students’ areas of strength and areas that require extra attention. This is particularly critical for those students who received low scores but did not participate in summer school, and I urge you to work with those families closely to provide the support they need.

I am attaching a letter for parents and guardians in English and in nine other languages. You may scroll through the attachment box to view all of the files. Please distribute this letter to parents this summer through whatever channels you may have available (e-mail lists, previously-scheduled meetings, backpacking with summer school students, if applicable). I understand that you may not be able to contact some parents until September, so we are also posting the letter on our Web site and will distribute it centrally via e-mail to parents for whom we have contact information.

Make no mistake about it — we have already made tremendous progress, but we realize we must do even better. We will not give up until every child is receiving a high-quality education and until every graduating student is ready for college or a career. Looking back, and looking ahead, I’ve never been more hopeful that we can reach this goal. I thank you and your staff for all your good work.

Sincerely,

Joel I. Klein

And here is the city’s letter to parents:

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