Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — November 24, 2000


ALBANY—The Business Council and various regional chambers of commerce around the state have scheduled ceremonies in the weeks ahead at which schools around the state will receive the first annual "Pathfinder Awards."

The Business Council created the Pathfinder Awards this year to recognize schools that show the most improvement from one year to the next as measured by the state's new academic standards. The Council began presenting the awards early in November; 27 schools will receive awards around the state in ceremonies over the next few months.

Award ceremonies scheduled: The following three award ceremonies have been scheduled:

Future award presentations: Additional award ceremonies are being scheduled in Lockport, Rochester, Woodbury, Brooklyn, Olean, and Elmira. Details on these events will be released in the weeks ahead.

Previous awards: Pathfinder Awards already presented include:

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 Inc., Con Edison, Fleet Bank, the Golub Corporation, Frontier Communications, 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 circumstances 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.