Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Thursday, November 29, 2001


ALBANY—Two New York City schools have received the Pathfinder Award from The Business Council of New York State in honor of improvement in their students' scores on standardized state tests.

The Pathfinder Award winners are P.S. I.S. 51 (the Elias Howe School) and P.S. 59 (the Beekman Hill International School), both of Community School District # 2 in Manhattan. The Elias Howe School was honored after its combined scores on the state's standardized math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests improved 88.7 percent compared to last year. The Beekman Hill International School received the award for the second consecutive year.

These awards are the first to be awarded in the second year of the Pathfinder Award program. The Business Council created the Pathfinder Awards last year to recognize schools that show the most improvement from one year to the next as measured by the state's new academic standards. Last year, 27 schools around the state received the award in the first year.

The Elias Howe School and the Beekman Hill International School received their awards Wednesday, Nov. 28, at a breakfast event sponsored by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. The event took place at the Manhattan headquarters of Citicorp.

Alair Townsend, publisher of Crain's New York Business and vice chair for finance of The Business Council, presented the awards. Barbara Gambino and Leslie Zackman, principals of the Elias Howe School and the Beekman Hill International School, respectively, received the awards.

How award recipients are determined: To be chosen for the award, a school must meet two criteria. First, a school must also have shown more improvement over its record the previous year than other schools in the region. In addition, at least half of its students must meet or exceed state standards on the fourth-grade English Language Arts and mathematics tests.

Last year, the awards were based solely on results from the English Language Arts (ELA) test because those results were the only statewide data available for comparison. This year's awards reflect changes in scores on both ELA and math tests.

The Business Council gives Pathfinder Awards each year 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.

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

Donors that have contributed to date to support the Pathfinder Awards include Corning Incorporated, Texaco, Con Edison, Fleet Bank, State Farm Insurance, the Pike Company, Frontier Communications, the Golub Corporation, KeyBank, and Michael D. Marvin, chairman of the board of MapInfo Corporation.

Background on The Business Council's advocacy on education: The Business Council has been an active and forceful advocate of policies to strengthen the performance and accountability of the state's public schools, and has long encouraged businesses and business leaders to become active partners with schools in their efforts to improve.

For example, The Public Policy Institute used state data to design the prototype for the state's 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.

Earlier this month, The Council's research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute of New York State, published a summary of The Council's Sept. 21 panel discussion at which New York State business and school leaders discussed how businesses might help schools improve. Tthe full report is available in PDF.