The goal of preparing all students for college and careers represents the apex of a pyramid with its
building blocks set firmly in a child’s first years and rising all the way through high school. It
requires not one strategy but a series of interlocking strategies to improve instruction in all of the
Despite measurable improvements over the past 12 years, New York City’s public schools
are far from reaching this goal: Less than one-third of the Class of 2012 cohort graduated on time with the credentials needed to attend the City University of New York without taking remedial courses.
This paper is the third in a series commissioned by Philanthropy New York, an organization of 285 philanthropic foundations in New York City. It offers recommendations for the new mayoral administration that will take office in January 2014 with an eye toward substantially increasing the number of students who graduate prepared for college and careers. The demands on public education have increased markedly in recent decades. Not long ago, graduation from high school was considered a momentous achievement
—and those who didn’t
finish could usually still find jobs that would support a family. Now, the schools are expected not only to graduate nearly everyone, but also to prepare students for college and jobs that demand higher education credentials once achieved by only a few. This new focus on college readiness is a revolutionary change in expectations, as Leslie Siskin demonstrated in the first paper in this series. Moreover, the new Common Core State Standards
guidelines, adopted by 45 states, on what skills all students should have
are significantly more challenging than previous New York State standards.
The New York City school system is divided by race and class, as Douglas Ready and Thomas Hatch demonstrated in the second paper in this series. The authors describe a system in which both whites and Asians tend to score far better than blacks and Hispanics on standardized
New York City Department of Education graduation report, Class of 2012. The figure refers to the full Class of 2012 cohort which consists of all students who entered high school in September 2008.
How much more difficult the new standards will be is a matter of some debate but educational historian Diane Ravitch
wrote on her blog that the state’s 2013 fifth grade English Language Arts exam, designed to be aligned with the