Reflection, Results, and the Year Ahead

Jill Kafka, Executive Director of Partnership Schools, and Kathleen Porter-Magee, its Superintendent, share their thoughts on the network’s sixth year:

It is hard to believe that we are already over a month into our sixth year as a groundbreaking urban Catholic school network!

When we reflect on all we have accomplished over the past several years—from capital improvement projects at our schools to year-over-year gains on the New York State test, to the ever-improving success of our high school placement program—it’s hard to believe that it’s only been five years since Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York agreed to put their trust in us and this experiment. And it’s even harder to remember that, at the time, the prevailing wisdom told us we had little hope of success.

Now, five years later, we are no longer a questionable experiment, but a stable, thriving model of school turnaround with results that speak for themselves.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff, buoyed by the strategic vision and support the network team has provided our students are celebrating their fourth consecutive year of achievement increases on the New York State Test. Our small network of scrappy urban Catholic schools—which spends less than half per student of what neighboring public, charter, and private schools spend— is now beating statewide achievement averages in both the math and ELA assessments.

Network 5-year NYST results, ELA

Percent of students scoring at or above proficiency

Network 5-year NYST results, Math

Percent of students scoring at or above proficiency

5-year NYST results, ELA

Percent of students scoring at or above proficiency

5-year NYST results, Math

Percent of students scoring at or above proficiency

In fact, last May, more than three-quarters of our graduating eighth graders passed the New York ELA test, and more than half passed the math test—results that rival even the most affluent school districts in the state. And the success of our students, who come from some of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, does not end with graduation. Last year’s graduating class was awarded more than $2.5 million in high school scholarship support, helping to launch three-quarters of the class of 2018 on to top New York City high schools such as Xavier, Marymount, Cristo Rey, Notre Dame, and Fordham Prep.

3 year Amount of Financial Aid Awarded to PNYC Students

In less than five years, we have defied expectations of what’s possible when you weave together faith and values with an unapologetic focus on academic excellence.

But what’s most heartening is that ours is not the only story. There is growing evidence that diocesan leaders across the country are drawing inspiration from the risk that Cardinal Dolan, Superintendent Tim McNiff, and you, our trusted supporters, took six years ago. More and more dioceses are thinking differently about how to support struggling Catholic schools in this era of increased competition and choice. And we are proud to play one part in this nationwide effort to defy the odds and preserve the legacy of urban Catholic schools.
On behalf of our leaders, teachers, staff, and students, thank you to all who continue to support our “100-year-old start-up”. We could not be more excited for what lies ahead.

With deepest gratitude and renewed excitement,

Jill Kafka                                    Kathleen Porter-Magee
Executive Director               Superintendent