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Riverhead’s K-4 students can transfer to Aquebogue due to low test scores

Parents of students at Phillips, Roanoke and Riley elementary schools have the option of sending their children to Aquebogue Elementary School next school year now that the state has declared them as “focus schools” as a result of low student test scores.

The decision marks the second year in a row the New York State Education Department has designated them as “underperforming” schools because they either failed to reach certain cut-off point scores or scored in the lowest 10 percent of schools statewide.

Since Phillips and Roanoke are also Title I schools, those students were allowed the option of transferring to Aquebogue this school year.

In August, school officials said 43 students transferred to Aquebogue.

Since Riley has now been added to the Title I Focus School designation, those students will also be allowed to transfer to Aquebogue next school year, according to a letter Superintendent Nancy Carney recently mailed to parents.

The federal government has designated Phillips, Roanoke and Riley schools as “Title I” schools since they have a high percentage of low-income families.

Riverhead is one of five districts on Long Island to receive the focus designation for the 2017-18 school year, a decision that was also based on graduation rates. Wyandanch, Central Islip, Hempstead and Westbury school districts also received the focus district designation, according to the state education department’s website.

The state’s latest decision was based on test results from the 2015-16 English Language Arts (ELA) and math assessments, Ms. Carney said.

Over 30 percent of our students did not take the grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments in 2015 and in 2016, so the designation is not representative of our entire student population,” she said. “As a district, we continue to be frustrated with this designation. The New York State Education Department is in the process of revising standards and assessments, but, for now, we are required to follow existing regulations. As a result of the focus designation, we are obligated to offer School Choice to parents of students who attend a Title I Focus School.”

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Although Pulaski Street Elementary, Riverhead Middle School and Riverhead High School are also considered focus schools, students don’t have the option to transfer since they are the only schools in the district serving their respective grade levels, Ms. Carney said in the letter.

Removal of the focus designation requires each school to have a 95 percent participation rate in state assessments, she added. About 33 percent of the district’s students required to take ELA and math exams this year opted out.

On Friday, Ms. Carney didn’t return messages seeking additional comment for this story.

An informational meeting will be held Wednesday, June 7, at 6 p.m. in room 133 at the Riverhead High School.

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