Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — November 1, 2000


ALBANY—Twenty-seven New York State schools will be the first ones honored in a new business-sponsored award program intended to recognize schools that show the most improvement from one year to the next as measured by the state's new academic standards.

The new "Pathfinder Awards" were created by The Business Council to highlight and honor schools that have improved the most. The first round of awards will be presented over the next several months, with a total of 27 schools to be recognized.

The first award winners: The first awards will be presented Nov. 8th at breakfast meeting sponsored by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at the Citicorp Center. At that event, the Roosevelt Island School and the Beekman Hill International School, both of which are part of New York City's Community School District No. 2, will receive Pathfinder Awards.

Other awards will be presented in the weeks ahead by the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce (Nov. 15), the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce (Nov. 28), the Massena Chamber of Commerce (Nov. 29), and the County Chamber of Commerce of Westchester County (Nov. 30).

How schools become eligible for Pathfinder Awards: To be chosen for the award, a school must meet two criteria. First, at least half of its students must meet or exceed state standards on the fourth-grade English Language Arts test. Second, a school must also have shown more improvement over its record the previous year than other schools in the region.

The English Language Arts test results were used to determine this year's awards because this measure was the first statewide assessment available that provided data on each elementary school's improvement compared to the year before. As broader test data become available in future years, these results will be added to the award criteria.

Each year for the next three years, Pathfinder Awards will be given to at least two public schools in each of 12 different regions across the state. These regions are the state's judicial districts; the awards are being made by district because appointments to the state Board of Regents are based on those regions.

In some regions, if more than two schools show nearly identical levels of improvement, more than two will be recognized. This year, four schools will be honored in one region and three in another. In the other 10 regions, two schools will be honored.

Schools that attain this honor will receive $1,000 for the school's programs and a trophy in recognition of their achievement. Awards will be presented in local ceremonies organized by The Council along with local chambers of commerce and/or local businesses.

Companies that have contributed to date to support the Pathfinder Awards include Corning Incorporated, Texaco, Con Edison, Fleet Bank, the Pike Company, and KeyBank.

Background on The Business Council's advocacy on education: The Business Council in recent years has forcefully advocated policies to strengthen the performance and accountability of the state's public schools.

For example, The Business Council's research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, used state data to design the prototype of the state's new school report cards. Today school report cards are released annually to give schools, teachers, parents, and students a sense of how their schools are doing compared to schools in similar circumstantes and their own performance of the previous year.

The Council has also been a strong proponent of the state's new, tougher academic standards, as well as tests based on those standards to measure the performance of students, teachers, and schools.