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Four Riverhead schools flagged for failing grades

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11/20/2015 12:00 PM |

Three of the four Riverhead schools recently flagged by the state for failing test scores are responding with plans to increase teacher collaboration and communication with parents, according to self-review reports recently released by the district.

Aquebogue Elementary, Pulaski Street and Riverhead Middle schools were mandated by the state to submit a “Local Assistance Plan” since certain groups of students did poorly on the 2014-15 state assessments. The groups identified in the reports as under-performing included “limited English proficient,” “black or African-American” and “economically disadvantaged” students.

The Riverhead school board unanimously approved the reports Nov. 10.

State education officials confirmed Tuesday that Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside was also required to file an LAP and that the school board had “inadvertently excluded” that report from the meeting.

Superintendent Nancy Carney said in an email that the report is being “revised” and will be approved at next Tuesday’s school board meeting.

This is the third year in a row the state has flagged Phillips for failing test scores. The K-4 school is the district’s most ethnically diverse and economically stressed school. According to the school’s LAP for last year, 76 percent of the nearly 590 students received free lunch, 60 percent were Hispanic, 18 percent were black and 10 percent were disabled.

Aquebogue, Pulaski and the middle school received the designation because most of their “limited English proficient” students, black students, and students from low-income families failed to make progress — a process known as not meeting “Adequate Yearly Progress” — in last school year’s math and English Language Arts assessments compared to the previous year.

The state education department required the district’s administration to evaluate the noted issues in those schools using a pre-made checklist that included four ratings: “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing” and “ineffective.”

None of the schools rated themselves as ineffective in any of the 20 categories, according to the reports.

Aquebogue Elementary School has a K-4 program with nearly 500 students. It received the LAP designation because most of its economically disadvantaged students failed ELA, the report states. About 38 percent of the student body is Hispanic and 12 percent is black. Of the school’s population, 47 percent receive free lunch.

The school, which was on the state’s watch list last year for similar reasons, rated itself as “developing” with teacher collaboration plans and improving partnerships with community groups and communication with parents.

Pulaski Street School has a fifth- to sixth-grade program and about 790 students. About 33 percent of students are Hispanic and 14 percent are black. Nearly 42 percent of all students receive free lunch.

The school last received the LAP designation list two years ago. This year, it was flagged because most of its black students failed the assessments, the report states. Pulaski rated itself as “developing” with teacher collaboration plans. All other ratings were listed as “effective” or “highly effective.”

As for Riverhead Middle School, the seventh- to eigth-grade program has just under 790 students. About 30 percent of students are Hispanic and 16 percent are black. Nearly 38 percent of all students receive free lunch. The school only rated itself with “effective” and “highly effective” ratings in the latest report, which the state required because the majority of the school’s limited English proficient students, black students and students from low-income families failed the assessments, according to the report.

When asked why the district’s schools gave themselves high marks despite poor performance on state assessments, Ms. Carney said in an email the tests are “only one measure of student performance.”

“They do not necessarily reflect the growth that occurs; particularly for English-language learners and students with disabilities,” she said. “As I have stated on numerous occasions, multiple measures need to be used to determine student growth. Through visiting classrooms and assessing student work, it is obvious that there is so much learning occurring in our classrooms.”

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Click on the tab below to read each school’s Local Assistance Plan.

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