Last week, the New York State Education Department released 2014 state test scores for students in grades 3-8, which for the second year, were fully aligned to the new national Common Core Standards, and several STC schools have emerged as city leaders. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia are in the process of implementing the Standards, and New York was one of the early adopters.

After the first year of Core-aligned tests, New York schools experienced a precipitous drop in proficiency rates. While the city’s test scores in English and Math increased slightly, overall proficiency remains low after this second year of Common Core-aligned tests. New York City students of all races and ethnicities increased in proficiency from 2013 to 2014: from 26% to 29.4% in English and from 29% to 34.5% in Math.

Chalkbeat NY points out that with over 1,200 elementary and middle schools in NYC, these averages paint a limited picture of student achievement. In fact, “there are dozens of outliers on both sides of the performance spectrum.” We are pleased to share that several of these outliers – both in overall performance and growth – are STC NYC schools.

Commissioner John King (check out our interview with King at the STC 2014 Forum) attributed the city’s overall progress to its early implementation of the Common Core standards and strong professional development. He shares the STC vision that all leaders work together to expand quality education. King said, “any lasting improvement to our schools has always been predicated on teachers working together to get better over time” and encouraged data analysis to identify bright spots and share best practices to support widespread improvement. At Schools That Can, we’re doing just that.

STC programs provide professional development to urban school leaders and teachers and help them improve their schools by working together. Our programs connect urban school leaders and teachers, higher educators, innovators, and industry leaders to share innovative practices that advance school improvement.

As Franklin Headley, Principal of VOICE Charter School, said, “I don’t know what we would have done if we did not have the STC community’s moral and technical support for theCommon Core roll out.”

As validated STC schools, we knew our schools had valuable practices to share before the results were announced. As part of STC NYC 2013-14 programming, we worked with several STC schools with outlying scores to identify key practices to share with their peers (take a look back at all STC NYC and STC Newark 2013-14 Programs).

A few highlights of STC NYC schools’ test results and STC program engagement include:

Harbor Science and Arts (K-8, charter) advanced nearly 10% in English!
— Practice shared through STC: Strategies to advance academic vocabulary

P.S. 69X Journey Prep (preK-5, district) grew 7.9% in English!
— Practice shared through STC: Writing across the curriculum

The Rosa Parks School P.S. 254Q(K-5, district) grew 12.9% in Math and over 70% of students achieved Math proficiency!
— STC Study Tour Focus: Elementary Math

VOICE Charter School (K-6, charter) students advanced 26.1% in Math to achieve 70.4% proficiency!
— VOICE is one of STC’s most engaged schools and a top attender of STC programs.

The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES) P. S. 244Q (PreK-3, district) educates an ELL population of more than 50% and achieved 81% proficiency in English and 84% proficiency in Math!
— TALES is the newest STC NYC school, and we’re excited to learn more about their practices, successes, and challenges to help peer schools improve.

* Mott Haven Academy (preK-5) demonstrated growth across the board, with +10.9% in English and +29.3% in Math
— Mott Haven Academy serves a unique population comprised of 67% students in foster or preventative care. As a STC NYC collaborating school, they showcased their effective strategies around school culture which help meet their students needs.

Last year, STC NYC programs united educators to share and learn from each other’s practices, challenges, and successes, including those related to Common Core standards and testing. Our STC 2014 Forum workshop Strengthening Your Core: Common Core Success, Challenges, and Strategies, brought together leaders from urban schools, higher ed, and innovators so the entire national STC community could benefit from experiences in New York. This year, we’ll dig deeper into STC schools’ successes and expand our collective knowledge to benefit urban schools in NYC and nationwide.

In addition to STC NYC Roundtables and Study Tours this year, we’ll also pilot new initiatives to deepen engagement and impact with and between STC schools, like Cross-Sector Collaboratives (comprised of 1 charter, 1 district, and 1 independent school) and STC Professional Learning Groups (PLGs). Each PLG, comprised of leaders from multiple schools, will take on one problem of practice and create a solution to share across the STC community.

With our partners (higher educators, innovators, and industry leaders), we’re identifying innovative real world learning practices for the 21st century we can share with schools to enhance student skills for college and career.

Stay tuned for more from Schools That Can and STC NYC  as we unite more leaders to expand quality urban education so all students are empowered to be lifelong learners, compete in the global economy, and realize their dreams.

We believe all urban schools can thrive. #BecauseStudentsCan