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Just for the Kids Best Practice Studies: Findings from NYS Schools

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 25, 2006) -- Ten of New York's higher performing public elementary schools point the way to raising student achievement in a report recently released by the National Center for Educational Accountability (NCEA). Based on case studies prepared by the University at Albany School of Education, the NCEA Executive Summary of the 2005 Just for the Kids (JFTK) Best Practice Studies and Institutes allows schools in need of improvement nationwide to gain direct and practical insight from schools in New York and 20 other participating states.

"Preparing today's elementary and secondary school children for success as tomorrow's college students, and as future leaders of America, is vitally important to our nation's continuing prosperity," said State University of New York Chancellor John. R. Ryan. "We support Just for the Kids New York's commitment to improving education through identifying and disseminating best practices from our most successful schools throughout our great state as effective and cost efficient."

Since 2001, NCEA as national sponsor of JFTK, has been focused on finding and sharing excellence in educational practices through the study of consistently higher performing schools in partnership with state-based research and education organizations. The goal of this study was to reaffirm that high academic achievement for all students is possible, and to examine the principles and practices that lead to success. A team of UAlbany researchers in the School of Education spoke with district leaders, principals, and teachers at schools in New York that have been more successful at raising student achievement and reaching higher standards than others, and examined the practices of educators in those schools to determine what they're doing and how their practices could help other schools.

"In 2006-07, we'll be extending the project to study middle schools across the state to identify practices and programs that distinguish those that are higher performing," said Dean of the School of Education Susan Phillips. "We are grateful to Governor George E. Pataki and SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan for their support of this research."

Following are the top ten New York public elementary schools that were featured:

NY Higher Performing School   School District
Charles A. Upson Elementary   Lockport City
George M. Davis Elementary   New Rochelle City
Gotham Avenue Elementary   Elmont Union Free
Lawrence Avenue Elementary   Potsdam Central
Mannsville Manor Elementary   South Jefferson Central
Naples Elementary   Naples Central
Smallwood Drive Elementary   Amherst Central
Traphagen Elementary   Mount Vernon City
Ulysses Byas Elementary   Roosevelt Union Free
Webster Elementary   Syracuse City

JFTK Best Practice Studies and Institutes cover specific strategies being used to build leadership capacity, offer intervention to students, make research-based selections of instructional programs, and much more. In addition to highlighting individual state best practices, comprehensive studies for schools with diverse demographics are organized around an interactive JFTK Framework of Best Practices along with tools that allow schools and districts to conduct self audits to see how their current practices align with The Framework.

The structure of the JFTK Best Practice Framework is used to examine the successful practices of higher performing schools in each state. Though not a theoretical creation, The Framework is based on the study of nearly 500 schools and systems across the nation and only includes the activities and practices that distinguish higher performing schools from average performing schools. Quality instruction is supported systemically by district and school practices, as well as by those in the classroom, remaining cognizant of the fact that the big picture helps us make sense of individual pieces.

"Interconnectedness of practices is critical in The Framework," said JFTK-New York Project Director Janet Angelis of the Albany Institute for Research in Education. "However, these programs and practices are presented as examples of what is working in some school systems, and should not be interpreted as a prescriptive list of programs or strategies."

The 2005 JFTK-New York Best Practice Study was made possible in part through national funding from The Broad Foundation and NCEA, as well as with local support from AT&T, IBM, State Farm Insurance, University at Albany School of Education, SUNY, The Business Council of New York State, and the New York State Education Department. In addition, Governor Pataki, working with SUNY Chancellor Ryan, has targeted $350,000 to support the project.

"This Report turns research into action to improve student achievement," said The Business Council of New York State President Dan Walsh. "We were proud to support this important study and value the significant work of NCEA, Just for the Kids, University at Albany, and The Broad Foundation. It is an essential tool for educators who are serious about school improvement."

For more information visit Just for the Kids NY, NCEA, view the Executive Summary of the NY Elementary School Best Practice Study (PDF) or contact Janet Angelis.


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