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Schools as Organizations: Examining School Climate, Teacher Turnover, and Student Achievement in NYC

March 24, 2016

During the last decade, education research and policy have generated considerable momentum behind efforts to remake teacher evaluation systems and place an effective teacher in every classroom. But schools are not simply collections of individual teachers; they are also organizations, with structures, practices, and norms that may impede or support good teaching. Could strengthening schools -- as organizations -- lead to better outcomes for teachers and students?This study begins to address that question by examining how changes in school climate were related to changes in teacher turnover and student achievement in 278 NYC middle schools between 2008 and 2012. Drawing on teacher responses to NYC's annual School Survey, as well as student test scores, human resources data, and school administrative records, we identified four distinct and potentially malleable dimensions of middle schools' organizational environments:Leadership and professional development;High academic expectations for students;Teacher relationships and collaboration; andSchool safety and order.We then examined how changes in these four dimensions over time were linked to corresponding changes in teacher turnover and student achievement. We found robust relationships between increases in all four dimensions of school climate and decreases in teacher turnover, suggesting that improving the environment in which teachers work could play an important role in reducing turnover. (The annual turnover in NYC middle schools is about 15 percent.)We also discovered that improvements in two dimensions of school climate -- safety and academic expectations -- predicted small, but meaningful gains in students' performance on standardized math tests.Taken together with other emerging evidence, these findings suggest that closing achievement gaps and turning around struggling schools will demand a focus on not only individual teacher effectiveness, but also the organizational effectiveness of schools. The policy brief outlines several potential areas of focus for districts that want to help schools in building healthy well-functioning organizations.

How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts: Funding for Cultural Nonprofits in Boston and 10 Other Metropolitan Centers

January 21, 2016

A new study commissioned by the Boston Foundation on how Boston and comparable cities support the arts shows that only New York City has higher per capita contributed revenue for the art than Boston, among major American cities.The study, titled "How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts: Funding for Cultural Nonprofits in Boston and 10 Other Metropolitan Cities," also examined Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Portland Oregon, San Francisco, and Seattle. "How Boston" is a follow-up of sorts to a 2003 Boston Foundation report titled, "Funding for Cultural Organizations in Boston and Nine Other Metropolitan Areas."Key findings of this study, regarding Boston, include the fact that Boston's arts market is quite densely populated. While Greater Boston is the nation's 10th largest metro area and ranks ninth for total Gross Domestic Product, its non-profit arts market, which consists of more than 1,500 organizations, is comparable to that of New York and San Francisco, and consistently surpasses large cities such as Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia, in terms of the number of organizations and their per capita expenses.

Social Media and Real-World Consequences: Volume 2 - Responding to Social Media Norms: Developing a Comprehensive Strategy to Promote Digital Citizenship

July 14, 2015

Social media has become a part of everyday life. All types of real-world behavior are now showcased online -- including criminal behavior, bullying, threats and the glorification of violence. Increasingly, youth associated with antisocial peer groups -- such as neighborhood-based "crews"? engaging in violent rivalries -- use social media as a tool to create criminal opportunities and amplify conflicts. Unfortunately, in many cases, this type of social media usage can lead to real-life violence or other serious ramifications, such as arrest. Volume 2 of the Crime Commission's series, "Social Media & Real-World Consequences", provides an overview of the range of legal, educational and professional consequences youth may face in the real-world.

Bringing Together Mentoring, Technology, and Whole-School Reform: A First Look at the iMentor College Ready Program

July 1, 2015

The iMentor College Ready Program is a unique model that combines elements of school-based mentoring, whole school reform, and technology in an effort to help students develop the knowledge, behaviors, and skills needed to reach and succeed in college. It is an intensive, four-year intervention offered in schools that serve low-income students. Students are paired with volunteer, college-educated mentors and enrolled in an iMentor class led by a school-based iMentor employee.The program has four central elements: A whole school model, which aims to match all incoming 9thgraders with a mentor, and keep them engaged for their full high school careers;A college-readiness curriculum developed by iMentor, taught by iMentor staff in weekly classes, and reinforced during monthly events for mentees and mentors;A "blended" approach to developing relationships between students and their mentor. Students communicate with their mentor primarily through email, but also meet in person at the iMentor events; andA pair support strategy based on a case-management model for tracking mentee-mentor relationship development.The Research Alliance for New York City Schools is conducting an in-depth evaluation of the iMentor College Ready Program in eight New York City high schools. With support from the Social Innovation Fund, the Research Alliance is examining iMentor's roll-out and implementation in these schools, as well as its impact on a range of outcomes related to students' preparation for college. This report is the first in a series from our evaluation. It focuses on iMentor's first year of implementation, which targeted 9th graders in all eight schools. The report provides a detailed description of the four key components of the iMentor College Ready Program and assesses the implementation of these program elements against specific benchmarks established by iMentor. The report also presents a first look at iMentor's effects on 9th graders' outcomes, including their perception of adult support, their aspirations for the future, a set of important college-related "non-cognitive" skills, and several markers of academic achievement.

Changing How High Schools Serve Black and Latino Young Men: A Report on New York City's Expanded Success Initiative

May 21, 2015

A growing number of initiatives around the country are attempting to tackle longstanding inequities, including higher rates of school dropout, incarceration, and unemployment among Black and Latino men. New York City's Young Men's Initiative (YMI) has been at the forefront of these efforts since it was launched in 2011 to address disparities in education, employment, health, and criminal justice.YMI's educational component, the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI), focuses on the issue of low college readiness among Black and Latino male students -- a problem that has persisted in NYC even as high school graduation rates have risen. ESI is providing funding and professional development to 40 NYC high schools, aimed at helping them improve outcomes, particularly college and career readiness, among their Black and Latino male students.The Research Alliance for New York City Schools is conducting a four-year evaluation of ESI's implementation and impact. This report, Changing How Schools Serve Black and Latino Young Men, presents our findings from Year 2 of ESI (the 2013-2014 school year), drawing on interviews and focus groups with staff at ESI schools and a set of matched comparison schools, a student survey, and an analysis of student achievement data.

Drones for Disaster Response and Relief Operations

April 21, 2015

Aerial drones are one of the most promising and powerful new technologies to improve disaster response and relief operations. Drones naturally complement traditional manned relief operations by helping to ensure that operations can be conducted safer, faster, and more efficiently. When a disaster occurs, drones may be used to provide relief workers with better situational awareness, locate survivors amidst the rubble, perform structural analysis of damaged infrastructure, deliver needed supplies and equipment, evacuate casualties, and help extinguish fires -- among many other potential applications. This report will discuss how drones and the aerial data they collect can be used before, during, and after a disaster. It includes an overview of potential solutions and deployment models, as well as, recommendations on removing regulatory barriers to their use. The American Red Cross, leading private sector companies, and federal agencies coordinated by Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, have come together to explore and explain how and why drones should be used in the wake of natural disasters and other emergencies that threaten widespread loss of life and property.

Overlooked and Undercounted - The Struggle to Make Ends Meet in New York City - Key Findings and Recommendations

December 2, 2014

More than two in five New York City households -- over 940,000 households -- lack enough income to mcover just the necessities, such as food, shelter, health care and child care. Yet as measured by the federal poverty level (FPL), less than half that number is officially designated as "poor." Moving from statistics to people, this translates to over 2.7 million men, women, and children struggling to make ends meet in New York City. Consequently, a large and diverse group of New Yorkers experiencing economic distress is routinely overlooked and undercounted. Many of these hidden poor are struggling to meet their most basic needs, without the help of work supports (they earn too much income to qualify for most, but too little to meet their needs). To make things even worse, their efforts are aggravated by the reality that the costs of housing, health care, and other living expenses continue to rise faster than wages in New York City.To document these trends, we use the yardstick of the Self-Sufficiency Standard. This measure answers the question as to how much income is needed to meet families' basic needs at a minimally adequate level, including the essential costs of working, but without any assistance, public or private. Once these costs are calculated, we then apply the Standard to determine how many -- and which -- households lack enough to cover the basics. Unlike the federal poverty measure, the Standard is varied both geographically and by family composition, reflecting the higher costs facing some families (especially child care for families with young children) and in some places.This report combines two series -- the Self-Sufficiency Standard plus Overlooked and Undercounted -- into one to present a more accurate picture of income inadequacy in New York City. The first section of the report presents the 2014 Self-Sufficiency Standard for New York City, documenting how the cost of living at a basic needs level has increased since 2000. The second section uses the American Community Survey to detail the number and characteristics of households, focusing on those below the Self-Sufficiency Standard.

Closing The Skills Gap: Preparing New Yorkers for High-Growth, High-Demand, Middle-Skill Jobs

October 30, 2014

This report highlights the challenges contributing to New York's skills gap, as well as the many opportunities to move more New Yorkers into well-paying jobs. The report findings show that there are over 1,000,000 middle-skill jobs in New York and 44,000 current openings. These are well-paying jobs with the potential for career growth, and they offer struggling families the real prospect of economic security. The report offers a framework for a systemic approach to scaling the education and training necessary to move more New Yorkers into these jobs and meet the demand for workers in these high-growth, middle-skill occupations. Detailed recommendations are also provided for building pathways systems for two of the highest-growth sectors: healthcare and technology.

Mobility and Equity for New York's Transit-Starved Neighborhoods: The Case for Full-Featured Bus Rapid Transit

December 17, 2013

New York City's public transportation system moves millions of people every day. But an increasing number who live in outer borough neighborhoods are stuck with unreliable transit options and long travel times tracked in hours, not minutes.It does not have to be this way.Developed by the Pratt Center for Community Development and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, this report highlights the limitations of New York City's current public transit system, the adverse effects those limitations have on our economy and quality of life, and the role Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can play in remedying these transit inequities.BRT has transformed cities across the world from Mexico City to Barcelona to Cleveland. At a fraction of the cost to build just a mile of subway rail, BRT gives riders a reliable way to get where they need to go.BRT is effective. It is innovative. And it could be the solution for New York's transit-starved neighborhoods.

New York City South Asian Youth: Critical Mass, Urgent Needs

December 16, 2013

There are now more than 100,000 South Asian youth in New York City. This milestone for the community was reached during the last decade and is confirmed by the 2010 Census. Today, more than 5% of the city's youth (defined as residents under the age of 20) are South Asian. Poverty is a major obstacle on their path to achievement. More than one-quarter of South Asian youth (26%) live in households with incomes lower than the federal poverty level (FPL). Over half of South Asian youth live in families where income is below 200% of the FPL. In New York City, where the cost of living is much higher than the national average, this means real hardship. Besides poverty, South Asian youth face additional hurdles that are particular to their experience in New York City today. Many parents of South Asian youth confront language barriers, cultural obstacles and a lack of familiarity with the American school system. The schools themselves often lack cultural competence when it comes to appreciating the needs of South Asian youth and interacting constructively with their families. And both in school and in the broader community, the post-9/11 environment continues to exhibit suspicion, bias, and discrimination. The bullying of South Asian youth, Muslim youth, and youth who wear turbans and hijabs is a persistent issue. This discourages many youth, lowers their engagement with school and other programs, and can lead to detrimental internalized behaviors.This report by South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!) presents the new demographics of South Asian youth in New York City, details the issues they face, and offers an agenda for action. Drawing on 17 years of experience providing youth-development services to the city's South Asian community, SAYA! Intends this report to inform policymakers, school officials, and all New Yorkers about the city's growing South Asian youth population, the unique pressures they face, and the ways to overcome these obstacles to opportunity. In our view, school leaders, city officials, community organizations, and South Asian families can take immediate steps that will improve youth college and career readiness and benefit the community as a whole. These steps include:Improving parental engagement in schools bydeveloping a new one-on-one parent advocacy programenhancing translation and interpretation support for parentsscaling up community organization resources for parental educationMaking schools a safe and welcoming space for South Asian youth byimproving school staff cultural competenceimproving school staff diversity and language proficiencyenhancing curriculum focused on South Asian youthcreating a safe, bullying-free space for South Asian youthPreventing South Asian youth from falling through the cracks byensuring availability of preparation tools, particularly for new immigrant youthenhancing the college readiness of public school studentsenhancing local community-based organization support for South Asian youthThese steps make up a practical, feasible agenda to ensure that New York City's South Asian youth have the tools necessary to succeed in a knowledge- and skills-based economy and avoid falling into a cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Preparing Black and Latino Young Men for College and Careers: A Description of the Schools and Strategies in NYC's Expanded Success Initiative

November 14, 2013

The Expanded Success Initiative (ESI) provides funding and technical support to 40 relatively successful New York City high schools to help them improve college and career readiness among black and Latino male students. This preliminary report describes key components and strategies of ESI and begins to look at factors that might influence the potential to apply ESI more broadly.

Low Wage Service Sector Workers in New York City

November 1, 2013

Making enough money to survive in New York City is challenging for many, especially for those struggling at the lowest end of the pay scale. Every day tens of thousands of low wage workers in New York City must ask themselves these difficult questions: Which utility should I pay this month: the telephone or the gas? Should I walk to work -- more than an hour -- to avoid the $5.00 round trip subway cost? How will I afford to feed my family?New York Communities Organizing Fund, Inc. (NYCOFI) and New York Communities for Change (NYCC) surveyed low wage workers in a variety of industries around New York City to get a real-world view of life in one of the most expensive cities in the country. This paper makes specific recommendations that are informed by employment statistics, an analysis of the supports that are available to workers, and our own research in the field.We hope this paper will be a starting place for those low wage workers organizing for better conditions. We also hope it will be a factual source for those policy makers working for better conditions for low wage workers. In a city with so much wealth, no one should be struggling day-to-day just to get by.