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Cuomo highlights progress made under Chelsea high school

When Governor Andrew Cuomo wanted to make the case during his State of the State address today that it’s possible to transform education, he pointed to a familiar face as proof.

That face belonged to Brian Rosenbloom, whom followers of the WNYC/GothamSchools project The Big Fix might recognize as the principal of Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School.

Cuomo praised Rosenbloom for dramatically boosting Chelsea High students’ attendance and the rate at which students pass their Regents exams during his two years as principal of the school.

“That performance is what we want to incentivize, that performance is what we want to model,” Cuomo said.

In part because of the progress that Chelsea has shown under Rosenbloom, city officials spared the school from closure and instead opted to spend nearly $1 million in federal grant money to let the school experiment with extended day programs, new “master” teachers, and outside community support.

Cuomo overstated the gains the school has made, however. In his speech, Cuomo said that the school’s Regents pass rates have dramatically risen from 31 percent to 89 percent.

That’s not quite true, Rosenbloom confirmed to WNYC’s Beth Fertig after the speech. The numbers that Cuomo cited are the rates that sophomores passed the Global History Regents between 2008 and 2010 — still an impressive jump.

The overall Regents pass rates at the school are lower, though the progress is still substantial. According to the most recent data available from the state, 73 percent of all the Chelsea students who took the Global History exam passed in the 2008-09 school year, up from 48 percent the year before. The school posted an 80 percent pass rate on the Comprehensive English exam in 2008-09, up from 66 percent the year before.

Rosenbloom told Fertig that one of his teachers watched the speech with his class at the school; the students went “ballistic” when they saw him, he said.

“I was very humbled by the experience, and I must say that I think a lot of the credit should also go to my staff and the students who worked hard to see changes in their school,” he said.

Fertig profiled Rosenbloom and his efforts at Chelsea for The Big Fix back in October; you can listen to the piece here.

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