Partnership for Inner-City Education

The Background:

For more than a century, Catholic schools have succeeded in educating children in America’s poorest neighborhoods, giving them the knowledge, skills, and character they need to break the cycle of poverty and move into the middle class. And yet, thanks to a combination of increased competition from charter schools, demographic shifts, and budget challenges, Catholic school enrollment has dropped by more than 50% since its height in the 1960s.

These Catholic school closing have hit disadvantaged communities and families the hardest. Since 2000, more than 1,600 Catholic schools have closed, a majority of which had been serving predominantly Hispanic and African-American communities in urban centers.

Fortunately, Catholic school leaders around the country have started a “Catholic School renaissance,” a nationwide effort to strengthen and rebuild urban Catholic schools as models of academic rigor and transformational change for the communities, students, and families they serve.

The Grantee:

The Partnership for Inner-City Education is a pioneering school management organization that is shaping the next generation of urban Catholic education. Granted operational management in 2013 by the Archdiocese of New York of six Pre-K to 8th grade schools in the South Bronx and Harlem, the Partnership is committed to providing students in historically underserved neighborhoods with the academic preparation, values, faith, and skills they need to excel.

The Partnership believes that great schools are guided by faith and values, grounded in rigorous content, supported by quality professional development and animated by a clear vision.  It is recognized as a leader in the Catholic school renaissance and has achieved continually improving academic results.

The Impact:

The Partnership is defying people’s expectations of what is possible in urban Catholic schools in an era of increased competition and accountability. When the Partnership assumed management of its six schools, all were at risk of closure and performing well below New York City and state public schools on the New York State English language arts (ELA) and math exams. In 2014, Kathleen Porter-Magee was hired as Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer. Porter-Magee has implemented a targeted, multi-year academic plan to improve instruction, with a focus on content-rich curriculum, rigorous assessment, and teacher professional development across all subjects.

In 2016-17, after only its fourth year as a network, Partnership students demonstrated their third consecutive year of achievement gains on the New York State ELA test. The network went from having 43% students scoring proficient in 2016 to 47% scoring proficient in 2017, putting ELA achievement in its six schools on par with or better than all but a few of the city’s most well-known charter networks.

Even more impressively, achievement has jumped 25 percentage points in both ELA and math over the past three years. That means that Partnership students – who lagged their peers just three years ago – are now beating the average state, city, and New York charter school averages in both core content areas.

Moreover, the Partnership has worked to increase enrollment at its schools and all schools had waitlists at the start of the 2017-18 school year. The Partnership is also investing in a high school placement program to ensure each graduate attends his/her best fit school, which will build upon his/her achievements in the Partnership and propel him/her forward for future success.