Schools Watch

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Need Help Filling Out the FAFSA? An Updated Guide for Students and the Adults Who Help Them


Filling out the FAFSA form is the first step for most students seeking financial support to go to college. But the form can be complicated and intimidating. To help, the Center has released a second edition of its popular "FAFSA: How-To Guide." It is easy to read and answers common questions of students and families. And new this year: How to compare financial aid packages.

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Building Blocks for Better Schools

Building Blocks for Better Schools: How the Next Mayor Can Prepare New York's Students for College and Careers


New York City's Education Funders Research Initiative asked the Center for New York City Affairs to identify key priorities for education reform under Mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio. Our paper, Building Blocks for Better Schools, analyzes the successes and failures of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education initiatives—and proposes six key areas on which the next administration should focus attention and resources. A top priority: Make sure young children can read.

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New York City's College Ready Communities Initiative: An Evaluation
september 2013

Creating College Ready Communities:
Preparing NYC's Precarious New Generation of College Students

by Kim Nauer and Paul Tainsh with Andrew White, tara bahl, sandra salmans, anna schneider, jared carrano and Thomas Jacobs

Educators in New York City are focused like never before on how to get more students to enroll in college and ensure their place in the nation's high-skilled economy. And more kids are going to college than ever. But the numbers actually getting a degree remains stubbornly low. How can New York fully prepare students? A new report by the Center explores why some NYC students go to college and succeed—and so many others fail.

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New York City's College Ready Communities Initiative: An Evaluation
MAY 2013

New York City's College Ready Communities Initiative:
Evaluation and Documentation 2009 - 2012

by Paul Tainsh, Andrew White, Kim Nauer, Thomas Jacobs and Laurie Goldkind

The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation launched this initiative in 2009 to link community development corporations and advocacy groups with 14 public schools to help students prepare for higher education. Our evaluation of four unique collaboratives found large improvements in college access, college knowledge and college-going culture in many of the schools, and identified large hurdles that remain for NYC to address.

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Managing by the Numbers
june 2010

Managing by the Numbers:
Empowerment and Accountability in New York City's Schools

WITH HELEN ZELON, THOMAS JACOBS, Alessandra Raimondi, Sharon McCloskey and Rajeev Yerneni

New York City has been the proving ground for a grand experiment in school governance since 2007, when Schools Chancellor Joel Klein replaced a tightly controlled top-down administrative structure with one that gave principals new powers to shape the culture and practice of their own schools. The report offers one of the first broad analyses of the Bloomberg administration's reorganization of school management, explaining how principal empowerment and school accountability are intertwined, and how this management structure is shaping children's lives.

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june 2009

The New Marketplace :
How Small School Reforms and School Choice Have Reshaped New York City's High Schools

BY clara hemphill and KIM NAUER, with helen zelon and thomas jacobs

An 18-month investigation by the Center reveals that Chancellor Joel Klein's high school reforms created valuable new opportunities but also caused collateral damage. Klein's reforms created 200 new small high schools and expanded high school choice, but weakened large high schools attended by tens of thousands of vulnerable students at risk of dropping out. The report explains that the majority of city teens continue to attend large high schools, despite the small schools initiative.

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october 2008

Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families:
Community Strategies to Reverse Chronic Absenteeism in the Early Grades and Improve Supports for Children and Families


Last year, more than 90,000 children in grades K through 5 (more than 20 percent of enrollment) missed at least one month of school. In high poverty neighborhoods, the number was far higher, approaching one-third of primary grade students. The implication for these students' long-term success is enormous, but this is only part of the story. This report also describes how chronic absenteeism at an early age can result from problems at home, and how strong partnerships between public schools, community organizations and other institutions can make a difference.

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june 2007

A Schoolyard in Brooklyn:
Strengthening Families and Communities Through the Innovative Use of Public Space

By John Kixmiller, with Andrew White and Rob Fischer

As part of PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Bloomberg proposed opening 290 city schoolyards to the public during non-school hours. A Schoolyard in Brooklyn offers a proven model for how to do it right, strengthening families and communities along the way. The report tells the story of the schoolyard at P.S. 503/506 (formerly P.S. 314) in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, that became a community plaza with activities for all ages. Now known as Neighborhood Center, it offers an affordable and proven model for reclaiming urban community space and many of the city's poorly used schoolyards and parks.

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About This Project

The Schools watch INITIATIVE
is a new project of the Center, focused on improving the educational prospects of New York City students of all ages who may ultimately be at risk of dropping out.

This is a natural outgrowth of Center's longstanding work on antipoverty strategies and family supports. Public schools are crucial players in the lives of New York City's poor and working class families. They can play a central role in safeguarding student's stability, health and well-being.

The initiative focuses on the broader role that schools can play in the community— connected to crucial indicators of school success including attendance, attachment, academics and graduation. The initiative seeks to strengthen the ability of teachers to work with disengaged students. And we look for successful models of collaboration among communities, families, the public schools and other institutions and support networks.