06/02/13 1:00pm
06/02/2013 1:00 PM
The new research area.

Phillips Avenue Elementary students in the school’s research area in March.

A recently released state report shows that two Riverhead elementary schools with poorer and more diverse student bodies are underperforming on English-language arts and math assessments.

The state issued its annual “report cards” for all school districts in March. The reports comprise district demographics, enrollment and student assessment performance information. The number of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch is also included in the report.

Of Riverhead’s four elementary schools, which educate pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade students, Phillips Avenue and Roanoke Avenue lagged behind Aquebogue Elementary and Riley Avenue in Calverton. Test scores and information about the Pulaski Street School, which educates the district’s fifth- and sixth-graders, was also included in the report.

While populations of both black or African-American and white students have slightly decreased slightly in the Riverhead School District since the 2010-11 school year, the Latino student population has increased significantly.

Last school year, 2011-12, the Latino student population was 1,384, an increase of 191 students over 2010-11. There were 907 black students enrolled in the district last year, down by 67, and 2,585 white students, a decrease of 35.

Phillips Avenue Elementary in Riverside and Roanoke Elementary in Riverhead had the highest numbers of minority students, and the highest amount of students meeting federal economic standards to qualify for free lunch. The state also reported that Phillips Avenue students had the poorest performance on English-language arts and math assessments.

Following is a summary of report findings for each school.

Phillips Avenue

• The report found that Latinos made up 46 percent of Phillips Avenue’s student population in 2011-12, with 258 students. There were 160 black students and 126 white students. Of those enrolled, 409 students, about 73 percent, were eligible for free lunch and 39 students were eligible for reduced-price lunch.

• About 35 percent of Phillips Avenue third-graders and 23 percent of fourth-graders scored below the state’s English-language arts proficiency standard. About 22 percent of students in third grade and 15 percent in fourth grade didn’t meet math proficiency standards. Nearly 11 percent of students who took the science assessment at Phillips Avenue scored below the state’s proficiency standards.

Roanoke Avenue

• According to the report, 182 Latino students, 124 white students and 66 black students were enrolled at Roanoke Avenue in 2011-12. Of those, 237 students were eligible for free lunch and 24 qualified for reduced-price lunch. Free lunch eligibility nearly doubled compared to 2010-11, up by 116 students.

• Nearly 23 percent of third-graders and 25 percent of fourth-graders scored below state proficiency standard in English-language arts, the report found. In math, about 10 percent of third-graders and 8 percent of fourth-graders failed to meet the state standards. Nearly 8 percent of the students who took the science assessment scored below the state’s proficiency standards.

Aquebogue Elementary

• The report counted 247 white students, 136 Latino students and 71 black students at Aquebogue. Among this population, 189 students qualified for free lunch and 25 for reduced-price lunch.

• Nearly 14 percent of third-graders and 10 percent of fourth-graders scored below the state’s English-language arts proficiency standards, according to the report. About 11 percent in third grade and 6 percent in fourth grade didn’t meet math proficiency standards. Nearly 6 percent of fourth-graders who took the science assessment scored below state standards.

Riley Avenue

• Riley Avenue’s student population included 485 white students, 98 Latino students and 39 black students. Of those, 185 students were eligible for free lunch and 38 for reduced-price lunch during the 2011-12 school year.

• Riley Avenue had the highest percentage of students who met or exceeded state state’s proficiency standards for English-language arts and math. About 5 percent of third-graders and 4 percent of fourth-graders scored below the standard for ELA and about 4 percent in third grade and 2 percent in fourth grade did so in math. All 121 students who took the science assessment scored above the state’s proficiency standards.

Pulaski Street School

• The report found 380 white students, 192 Latino students and 128 black students were enrolled in the school in 2011-12. A reported 285 students qualified for free lunch and 55 for reduced-price lunch.

• In fifth grade, 10 percent of English-language arts assessments and 7 percent of math exams received scores below the state’s proficiency standard. In grade 6, about 8 percent of English-language arts scores and 4 percent of math exams fell below the standard.

Districtwide results

• About 40 percent of all district students, or 2,021, were eligible for free lunch during 2011-12 and another 357 for reduced-price lunch. Those numbers compare with 1,833 students and 336 students, respectively, during the previous year, 2010-11.

• Nearly 12 percent the Riverhead School District’s elementary enrollment during the 2011-12 school year — 596 students — were considered limited English proficient, or LEP, according to the report. That’s an increase of 55 students over the 2010-11 school year, the report shows. LEP refers to students who have not yet developed fluency in reading and writing because their primary language is not English.

• Phillips Avenue had 160 LEP-designated students; Roanoke Avenue had 120; Aquebogue had 73; and Riley Avenue had 60. The Pulaski Street School had 51 LEP students.

• According to the report, the district’s black, Latino, LEP-designated and economically disadvantaged students in grades 3-8, as well as students with disabilities in those grades, failed to make adequate yearly progress in English-language arts assessments. Adequate yearly progress, or AYP, indicates progress toward proficiency for all students.

The same classifications of students in those same grades also failed to make AYP in mathematics last school year.

As for science, as measured in only grades 4 and 8, the district’s black and white students achieved AYP. Riverhead’s secondary students achieved AYP in both English-language arts and math.

• The report also addressed enrollment and graduation rates, documenting a total district enrollment of 5,010 students during 2011-12, up 112 students from the previous year. There were 328 Riverhead High School graduates in 2012, up 20 students from the previous year. However, the total number of dropouts was also up by 10 students, to 71.

jennifer@timesreview.com

06/22/12 3:00pm
06/22/2012 3:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Fourth grade teacher Jackie Adla says goodbye to Kevin Sagastume outside Roanoke Avenue Elementary School Friday.

Keeping with the school’s tradition, Roanoke Avenue Elementary School’s principal Thomas Payton was joined just before noon Friday by teachers, staff, parents and siblings in the last day send-off, which they call a “Clap Off,” using plastic “clappers.”

The 74 fourth-graders, who are moving up to Pulaski Street Elementary School, marched out of the school first hugging the principal on the way and then their teachers, some even choking back and wiping away tears. They were followed by the rest of the school’s students climbing onto the buses and waving out the windows as the Riverhead Fire Department sounded the sirens across the street.

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03/09/12 5:16pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Roanoke Avenue Elementary School principal Tom Payton paying off his end of the bargain in his annual reading challenge with his students.

The music was thumping. The auditorium was packed with screaming, jumping kids. Then a man comes out on stage and whips his hair back and forth, sending the kids into even more pronounced screaming!

And then … he gets a haircut.

But this wasn’t just any haircut. This was Roanoke Avenue Elementary School principal Tom Payton paying off his end of the bargain in his annual reading challenge with students.

Since 2006, Mr. Payton has made it an annual tradition to challenge his students to read a certain number of minutes during “reading week,” and if they do, he does something entertaining/embarrassing in a public assembly in front of the entire school.

Last year, they hit him in the face with pies. In years past, he’s dressed in a chicken costume and danced to the “Chicken Dance,” worn a clown suit and rode a small triangle on stage, let kids pour sticky chocolate syrup and whipped cream all over him, and he shaved off most of his hair in his first challenge.

He was running out of ideas.

“This year was hard coming up with an idea,”  he said. “I didn’t come up with something until winter break.”

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mr. Payton had the word "read shaved into his head."

A few weeks ago, he decided to put off his trip to the barber and let his hair grow. He finally had an idea for the challenge.

“I’ve already done the ‘shave your head’ thing, so I had to ramp it up this year,” he said just prior to taking the stage. “So I decided to go with a fade, with the word ‘read’ in there.”

The kids held up their end of the bargain, as they do every year. Mr. Payton challenged them to read 60,000 minutes, 10,000 more than last year’s challenge, and the count was at 62,000 minutes after counting the first four days of the five-day reading week, Mr. Payton said.

So the fade was on.

Barber Jermaine Moore of Platinum haircutters in Riverhead did the honors, saving Mr. Payton’s hair tight on both sides, but carving in the word “READ” on the right side.

The children jumped up and down, chanting “Read! Read! Read!” or “You need a haircut” while the shearing took place, and disco music blared.

“You asked why do I do this?” Mr. Payton said to a reporter afterward. “You saw their reaction, didn’t you? I’ll do this every year. I’m so proud of them.”

And in the end, he said he felt lighter, and his wife liked the new hairdo, too.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/25/11 5:41pm
03/25/2011 5:41 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO Fourth grader Troyshaw Burgess throws the first pie in Principal Thomas Payton's face Friday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO Fourth grader Troyshaw Burgess throws the first pie in Principal Thomas Payton's face Friday.

“Pie! Pie! Pie!”

That was what the children in the Roanoke Avenue Elementary School chanted as their principal entered the auditorium, where all the classes were assembled Friday afternoon.

New non-healthy lunch menu?

Not quite.

Principal Tom Payton was holding up his end of the bargain, having issued a challenge to the kids that if they read 50,000 minutes during Reading Week, he would take a pie in the face.

The kids read 66,466 minutes, as it turned out, and Mr. Payton took five pies in the face, one from a representative of each grade in the K-4 school.

“I am so proud of your enthusiasm for Reading Week and that enthusiasm is reflected in the number of minutes you read this week,” Mr. Payton told the students.

Mr. Payton has done stuff like this before, although this was his first time as principal at Roanoke.

He had been the principal at Phillips Avenue Elementary School from 2005 to 2010 where he initiated the annual tradition of challenging his students to read a certain number of minutes, and if they met that challenge, he would do something— usually embarrassing— in front of the entire school.

In four years, he wore a clown suit and rode a small tricycle on stage; he let kids pour chocolate syrup and whipped cream on him and make him into an ice cream sundae; he dressed in a chicken suit and danced to the Chicken Dance, and he cut most of his hair off in front of the kids.

He was reassigned to Roanoke Avenue midyear last year, and missed his Reading Week challenges. But he was named principal at the start of the current school year and resumed the challenges.

And the kids were ready.

They even made posters taunting their principal of his impending fate.

“Pie Meets Face. Face Meets Pie. It’s Coming! Beware the Pie!,” one of them wrote.

“The pies are coming Friday!” another poster warned.

The posters are hanging in Mr. Payton’s office.

The challenges seem to have gotten the kids pysched about reading, or least, about seeing their principal get hit with a pie.

“Parents have said, ‘It’s all my son or daughter is talking about,’ ” Mr. Payton said.

The whipped cream pies were made by Mr. Payton and custodian Antonia Turner before the assembly, and the five kids who were chosen to do the pie-ing (if that’s a word) showed no mercy.

Afterward, Mr. Payton compared the pie-in-the-face stunt to his previous challenges in terms of disgusting-ness.

“This was number one. No doubt,” he said. “I think I still have whipped cream in my ears.”

What’s next?

“I’m kind of running out of ideas,” he said. “It’s to a point where the week before I start this I don’t know what I’m doing.”

But he said he still has the chicken suit and the clown suit at home, so if he ever needs to reprise a previous challenge, it wouldn’t cost him much. Except, of course, his pride and dignity.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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