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Mayor and Chancellor Kick Off First Day of School With New Equity and Excellence for all Initiatives Reaching Over 800 Schools

September 8, 2016

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New initiatives will raise the bar: 80 percent of students will graduate high school on time, and 2/3 of students will be college-ready

Building on Pre-K for All and Community Schools, City promotes academic excellence, student & community support, and innovation

70,430 children registered for opening day of Pre-K for All – more students than the 65,504 on opening day last year

NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today joined students, families, and educators to celebrate the first day of school, starting the day with a 7th-grade student and her new Single Shepherd at IS 392 in Brownsville. This will be the first full school year of the Equity and Excellence reforms first laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio last September. The Equity and Excellence initiatives will support progress across all schools so that, by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time, two-thirds of graduates are college-ready, and all students are reading in 2nd grade.

These commitments build on critical administration initiatives including Pre-K for All, which provides every 4-year-old in the City with a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seat, and the 130 Community Schools, which bring schools, families and communities together as partners to provide wrap-around services that increase opportunities and eliminate barriers to learning for underserved students. The Equity and Excellence initiatives will also continue to build on progress in New York City schools across multiple measures: a graduation rate over 70 percent for the first time that puts the City on track to reach its 80 percent goal, the lowest-ever dropout rate, and the highest-ever rate of students enrolling in college.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “There is always a special excitement on the first day of school, and the First Lady and I are so happy to join with Chancellor Fariña, principals, teachers and school communities throughout the five boroughs in extending a warm welcome to all of the students and families on this joyous day. With the investments we are making as part of our Equity and Excellence agenda, we are shaking the foundation of our education system.  A generation of students is moving through our schools with the advantages of Pre-K, test scores are up, graduation rates are up and we are making sure all kids are getting a fair opportunity for a great education. Our education system is moving rapidly in the right direction and our city’s smart, hardworking, dedicated, and determined children, parents, and educators are lifting up communities and making their mark on the city, the country and the world. They have made their Mayor very proud, and I look forward to all they will accomplish this year!”

"Anything is possible in the new school year, and that's even more the case with our reforms to increase equity and excellence for all students. From improving reading instruction for our youngest learners through Universal Literacy, to putting our students on the path to college success through College Access for All - High School, these initiatives are going to make a real impact for students and families. I welcome back our students, families, and educators, and am excited about the work ahead,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. 

"I am thrilled that a record number of children will begin Pre-K for All today across New York City.‎ Our high-quality pre-K programs offer children from every neighborhood a foundation for a bright future and I am proud that so many families are able to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery.

"This year is bound to be the best year yet for more students than ever because this year we're providing them with more support than ever," said First Lady Chirlane McCray. "As part of ThriveNYC, we are equipping schools with a broad set of resources to make sure we can address mental health issues when they first arrive. In order to educate the whole child, we must nurture the whole mind. That's why we are making sure all of our children can access the tools they need to thrive and we couldn't be more excited for the start of the school year."

There is momentum across the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives; below is a by-the-numbers breakdown for the 2016-17 school year:

Single Shepherd
Single Shepherd is pairing every student in grades 6-12 in District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in Brownsville with a dedicated school counselor or social worker who will support them in their school on the path to graduation and college enrollment.

This school year, approximately 120 Single Shepherds are serving all 16,000 grade 6-12 students at all 51 middle and high schools in Districts 7 and 23.

Universal Literacy
Through Universal Literacy, every school will receive support from a dedicated reading coach who will work with teachers to ensure all students are reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade. Within six years, at least two-thirds of students will be able to read proficiently by the end of 2nd grade, with the target of 100 percent of all 2nd graders reading at grade level by 2026.

This school year, 103 Universal Literacy reading coaches are supporting all 107 elementary schools in Districts 9 and 10 in the Bronx and Districts 17 and 32 in Brooklyn.

Algebra for All
Through Algebra for All, by 2022, every student will have access to Algebra in 8th grade, complete Algebra no later than 9th grade, and there will be academic supports in place in elementary and middle school to build greater Algebra readiness.

This school year, 67 elementary schools are “departmentalizing” 5th-grade math – having their math instruction led by a specialized teacher who received intensive training the spring and summer. Including those schools, over 400 elementary, middle, and high school teachers across 205 schools are returning to their schools with expanded expertise in math instruction.

AP for All
AP for All is adding Advanced Placement courses at underserved schools across the City; by fall 2021, students at all high schools will have access to at least five AP classes.

This school year, 63 high schools are offering new AP courses, including 35 that offered no AP courses during the 2015-16 school year. An additional 71 high schools are receiving pre-AP support to strengthen student and teacher readiness for AP courses in future years.

Computer Science for All
Through Computer Science for All, every student will receive computer science education in elementary, middle, and high school by 2025.

This school year, 246 elementary, middle, and schools are participating in Computer Science for All, including 98 offering full-year or multi-year sequences. Across these schools, 457 teachers are receiving rigorous professional development and support to implement these programs.

College Access for All – Middle School
Through College Access for All – Middle School, by the 2018-19 school year, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus.

This school year, 167 middle schools across ten districts will bring over 20,000 students to college campuses during the school year, and offer new workshops and resources for students and families around high school, college, and career success.

College Access for All – High School
Through College Access for All – High School, by the 2018-19 school year, every student will have the resources and supports at their high school to graduate with an individual college and career plan.

This school year, 100 high schools are receiving new training and funding to build a schoolwide college and career culture. All 68,000 New York City high school juniors will be able to take the SAT free of charge during the school day on April 5, 2017.

District-Charter Partnerships
District-Charter Partnerships will pair district and charter schools to foster strong relationship and share best practices. Partnerships include facilitated conversations among schools, organized visits, and sharing of resources and strategies.

This school year, over 130 district and charter schools will partner around sharing best practices. Currently, this includes 108 schools – 11 co-located schools building campus community and sharing practices; 19 schools in District 16 in Brooklyn participating in a district-wide district-charter partnership; and 78 schools in Districts 18, 19, and 23 in Brooklyn engaged in the DOE Uncommon Schools-Impact Partnership. An additional 28 schools will be identified for new collaborative learning partnerships this fall.

Pre-K for All
Pre-K for All is in its second year of providing a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seat for every four-year-old in New York City – better preparing our youngest students to learn and be successful in kindergarten and beyond.

This school year, 70,430 children are registered to attend free, full-day, high-quality pre-K, more than triple the 20,000 children who attended before the Pre-K for All expansion. Last year, on the first day of school, 65,504 children were registered. Families can continue to find free, full-day, high quality pre-K seats by calling 311 or visiting

Community Schools
New York City’s 130 Community Schools recognize that in order for students to achieve academic excellence, we must support the whole child, as well as their family. Community Schools support students, engage families, and strengthen communities from all sides; integrating academics, health, youth development, and family engagement and providing access to critical programs and services like vision screening, mentoring, expanded learning programs, adult education, and mental health counseling. Each school is paired with a lead Community Based Organization partner that works collaboratively with the principal and the school community to do this work.

The Mayor and Chancellor will continue to highlight these initiatives with five-borough tours. After the visit to IS 392, the Mayor will visit the expanded pre-K program at PS 161 in Queens; PS 154 in the Bronx, a Renewal and Community School; and the KIPP Infinity Charter School in Manhattan.

"I wish all students, their families,  teachers, administrators and staff a wonderful first day of school and a great school year! Our state must give our students the resources they need to learn,” said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Committee on Education.

"Another exciting school year begins and we have much to look forward to," said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. "These Equality and Excellence for All initiatives build upon Pre-K for All, the creation of 130 Community Schools and other successful programs that have benefited all public school students. I look forward to working closely with the administration as we implement these new initiatives which will have a positive impact on our schools."

“This is going to be an exciting year. Our teachers are ready to do amazing work with our children and their families. To all our great educators – welcome back. To all our students and their families – together we are going to make this a great year,” said Michael Mulgrew, president, United Federation of Teachers.

"The first day is one of the most exciting of the school year, so full of expectations and promise," said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan. "As school leaders, our job is to harness and channel that promise so that every student becomes all she or he can be. The chance to help a child discover the future is what makes the job so exciting."

"We are grateful that Mayor de Blasio was able to meet students and educators today and see the great work that is taking place at KIPP Infinity Charter School and we are appreciative of our growing partnership with Chancellor Fariña and the New York City Department of Education, as we work together to ensure a growing of number of New Yorkers are prepared for success in college and careers. The Mayor's visit is a recognition of the tremendous efforts of our teachers, students, and parents toward preparing the next generation of New Yorkers for success throughout college and life as well as a recognition that it is working - more than 43 percent of KIPP:NYC graduates receive a four year college degree, more than four times the rate of low-income students nationally,” said David Levin, Co-Founder of KIPP.

The Chancellor will visit PS 254 in Queens, one of 11 schools that is part of the Software Engineering Program Jr. through Computer Science for All; PS/IS 218 in the Bronx, a school that has a new reading coach through the Universal Literacy initiative; and Washington Heights Academy, where all 7th graders will visit a college campus this school year through the College Access – Middle School initiative.

The Mayor and Chancellor will close their day at Port Richmond High School, a Community School with a new health center, food pantry, college prep program, and mentoring services for students. It is also the first Dual Language high school in Staten Island.

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