FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, NOVEMBER 5, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Jonathan Burman, Tom Dunn or Jane Briggs at (518) 474-1201
CONTRACTS FOR EXCELLENCE APPROVED FOR 10 SCHOOL DISTRICTS
State Education Commissioner Richard Mills announced today the approval of Contracts for Excellence between the Department and ten school districts throughout the State. This follows the announcement on October 3 of the Commissioner's approval of Contracts in 26 districts.
State law requires that certain districts – those that have at least one school in need of improvement and received an increase in State Foundation Aid above a threshold – enter into "Contracts for Excellence." Contract districts must spend a portion of their Foundation Aid increase on programs and activities that have been shown to improve student achievement and that are focused primarily on students with the greatest educational needs. These districts may use funds for class size reduction; increased time on task; teacher/principal quality initiatives; middle school/high school restructuring; model programs for English language learners; full day pre-kindergarten/kindergarten; and experimental programs.
The ten school districts the Commissioner approved are: Albany, South Colonie, Elmira, Norwich, Geneva, Fulton, Schenectady, Monticello, White Plains and Yonkers.
"These Contracts represent a commitment that districts make to improve student achievement and provide for public involvement and accountability," Regents Chancellor Robert M. Bennett said. "They offer an unprecedented opportunity to link school funding with increased expectation for achievement."
Commissioner Mills said, "Districts throughout the State have responded by using their Contract funding in ways that have been shown to improve student performance, especially for those students in greatest need. We will continue working with them to ensure that student achievement improves as a result of the Contracts."
The 26 school districts whose Contract approvals the Commissioner announced in October are: Arlington, Binghamton, Buffalo, Copiague, Dunkirk, Gloversville, Greece, Hannibal, Haverstraw-Stony Point, Hyde Park, Massena, Mexico, Middletown, Newburgh, Northeastern Clinton, Odessa-Montour, Ossining, Oswego, Port Jervis, Spencer-Van Etten, Syracuse, Utica, Valley Central (Montgomery), Wappingers Falls, Watertown, and Watervliet.
2008-09 is the second year that the law has required certain districts to enter into Contracts for Excellence. In the first year, 2007-08, 55 school districts were required to adopt Contracts. Those 55 districts – comprising over 1,500 schools with a total enrollment of 1.1 million students – received $428 million in Foundation Aid that was subject to Contracts. Monitoring by the Education Department showed that the vast majority of Contracts were implemented as approved and where there were compliance issues, corrective action plans were put in place. This year, 20 districts were removed from the list of districts required to enter into Contracts, while four were added, for a total of 39 Contract districts in 2008-09.
In the newly approved Contracts, the districts committed to:
Examples of specific programs to be implemented by the ten districts with newly approved Contracts:
Class Size Reduction: Research has shown that reductions in class size, particularly in the early grades, can improve student achievement. More than three-quarters of the approved Contract for Excellence districts will use at least part of their fund allocations to support these efforts.
Increased Time on Task:
Middle and High School Restructuring:
Teacher and Principal Quality Initiatives: Research shows that improving teacher preparation is one of the strongest policy levers that schools have to improve achievement, and a number of districts are making significant efforts in this area.
Full-Day Pre-K and Kindergarten:
Model Program for English Language Learners:
The Department will continue to work with the remaining districts to complete their Contracts.
Additionally, the Department will continue to monitor the implementation of the Contracts for Excellence and will use what was learned from the first year of Contract implementation and monitoring to assist districts this year. Building upon that knowledge, the Department will, among other things, continue to meet with Contract districts to offer technical assistance; provide the Regents with analyses of broad trends in student performance in C4E districts, once a full set of test results are available; and report to the Regents on the degree to which schools were successful in meeting performance targets.
Click on the link which follows to see the thirty-six 2008-09 Contracts that are currently approved: http://eservices.nysed.gov/c4e-public/actions/dispatcher.