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Uncommon Schools Posts Strong Results in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts Students Close Achievement Gap in Math September 21, 2010 – New York, New York. Uncommon Schools continues to raise expectations for families whose children attend an urban public school. Across 24 schools serving 4,500 students in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, Uncommon Schools demonstrates that the long-standing racial achievement gap can and must be closed. Over the past two months, all three states have released 2010 exam results. Uncommon CEO Evan Rudall says, “Our scores were extremely encouraging in Math, mixed in literacy, and very motivating for our teachers, leaders, and Home Office staff. Our team is determined to prepare our students to graduate from college.”
This year, the New York State Education Department significantly raised “cut scores,” or percentage of correct answers required to score “Proficient” on state exams. As a result, proficiency rates across the state dropped by approximately 25 points in ELA and Math. This change raises expectations for students, families, and schools by targeting true college-readiness, a decision Uncommon applauds wholeheartedly.
Despite the successes, Uncommon failed to close the achievement gap in ELA in New York. 55% of students scored Advanced or Proficient, compared to 65% of the state’s White students. To address gaps in ELA mastery, Uncommon spent the past year developing an innovative teacher training tool that focuses largely on Guided Reading. Led by Managing Director Paul Bambrick, a coalition of Early Literacy leaders from across the Uncommon Schools networks developed the K-4 Reading Taxonomy – a comprehensive written guide (with over 200 supporting video clips) targeting literacy at the K-2 level, along with guiding principles for the 3-4 bridge to middle school. The Taxonomy is being used across Uncommon Schools.
On Thursday, September 9th, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy as a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School. The highest award bestowed by the Department, it honors 304 public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that demonstrate the highest student achievement in their respective states and/or have closed the achievement gap. North Star was selected as one of only 80 schools in the category of schools whose students, regardless of backgrounds, are among the state’s highest performing. All 2010 Blue Ribbon schools will be honored at an awards ceremony November 15-16 in Washington, D.C.
New Jersey recently released the 2010 NJASK results, which reveal North Star Academy’s award-winning performance.
Massachusetts recently released statewide 2010 MCAS results, and Roxbury Prep showed strong results in line with its performance over the past eleven years.
An associate member school for five years, Roxbury Prep became an official member of Uncommon Schools in summer 2010. Dana Lehman, former Roxbury Prep Co-Director, is now the Managing Director for the Uncommon Schools Preparatory Network. She shares, “Roxbury Prep’s consistent excellence, combined with Uncommon’s experience in other large urban districts, provides a great model for closing the achievement gap at scale in Boston. In strategically lifting the charter cap for proven providers in lower performing districts, Massachusetts is paving the way for potentially thousands of students in Boston to benefit from the incredible education the Uncommon Preparatory Network has to offer.”
Uncommon Schools CEO Evan Rudall notes, “We are proud of the hard-earned accomplishments of our teachers, students, and families. While we celebrate their successes, we also know the urgency of our work has never been greater. We applaud New York State for raising the bar on academic rigor, and we have a lot of work ahead of us in each of our regions, particularly in ELA. We did not consistently close the racial or economic achievement gaps in ELA, and too many of our students are not on track to meet college-level English standards. We are tackling this challenge with increased tenacity.”
This fall, Uncommon Schools opened two new campuses in New Jersey (North Star Academy Elementary II and North Star Academy Vailsburg Middle School) and five new schools in New York (Brooklyn East Collegiate, Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant Middle Academy, Leadership Prep Ocean Hill, Ocean Hill Collegiate, and True North Rochester Prep Elementary School).
Uncommon Schools builds uncommonly great schools by developing and managing regional networks that are philosophically aligned and highly accountable. All schools across the Uncommon network share common college-preparatory elements: a highly structured learning environment, a longer school day and a longer school year, standards-based instruction, and proven curricula that are data-driven and informed by ongoing assessments. Based in New York City, the organization has created a home office, from which it provides management services that allow school leaders to focus on instructional leadership.
Currently, Uncommon manages 24 schools in New York City; upstate New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Boston, Massachusetts. Over the next five years, the organization will grow to encompass 38 schools, ultimately serving nearly 14,000 K to 12th grade students. For more information, please visit http://www.uncommonschools.org.