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Three Riverhead schools removed from state ‘focus’ list

Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez approached the microphone at Tuesday’s school board meeting in the Riverhead High School cafeteria with a bright smile on her face. 

“Tonight I’d like to celebrate our teachers and our leaders,” Dr. Henriquez said, “by announcing that four of our schools are in good standing with the state.”

Her comment was met with applause from the roughly 20 audience members, who included several teachers.

Dr. Henriquez announced that, according to the state education department, the high school and Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools have been removed from the state “focus” list and been deemed “in good standing.” 

Aquebogue Elementary School, which did not receive the focus designation last year, has remained in good standing. 

The superintendent announced that the state’s rating of Pulaski Street School has also improved and it has been labeled a “targeted support and improvement school.” The middle school and Roanoke Avenue Elementary School remain “comprehensive support and improvement schools.”

The education department places schools and districts into various focus categories based on levels of student performance on state exams. An underperforming school is labeled a “focus school.” 

“We have a long road ahead and more work to do,” Dr. Henriquez said in an email. “But we are committed to continuous improvement. I applaud the efforts of this extraordinary team.” 

Last Wednesday, state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced that 49 out of 52 focus schools statewide demonstrated improvement in the 2017-18 academic year. 

Last June, for the third year in a row, the Riverhead Central School District as a whole was designated a focus district for the 2018-19 school year. Riley Avenue, Roanoke and Phillips Avenue elementary schools, as well as the middle school and high school, were also deemed focus schools in June, but those designations have now been removed. 

The Riverhead school district was first labeled a focus district during the 2015-16 academic year, when six of its seven schools were identified as individual focus schools due to a sub-par graduation rate and poor student performance on English Language Arts and math assessment tests. 

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