On July 11, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) notified Massena Central School District that all of the district’s schools are now designated “In Good Standing” for the 2012-13 school year by the state.
The new designation means that Massena meets the state’s newly adopted standards as a district currently satisfying requirements for student achievement on state exams.
“This announcement is long overdue,” said Massena Superintendent of Schools Roger Clough.
“It recognizes what we have known all along—that our students have steadily improved on the math and English Language Arts exams. Under the old system, a small subgroup of our students could fail to make sufficient progress and an entire building could be labeled as needing improvement.”
For Massena, a subgroup of 47 students with disabilities out of a total enrollment of 463 students at J. William Leary Junior High School did not “adequate yearly progress” in English Language Arts 2010-11. The school was identified as needing to improve as a result.
According to a state release, “Prior to the waiver, all schools and districts were held to the standard of having all students proficient on state assessments in language arts and math by 2014. New York has now been able to set new ambitious and realistic timelines and trajectories for schools and districts to demonstrate they are increasing the percentage of students who are on track to college and career readiness while closing achievement gaps among student groups. The state goal is that between 2010-11 and 2016-17, we will reduce by half for each accountability group the percentage of students who are not proficient or on track to proficiency in terms of college and career readiness in ELA and mathematics.”
“Basically, this means that the state looked at the measures and acknowledged that they were unreasonable. It was wrong to give an entire school a bad score when it was such a small and very specific group of students who struggled,” said Mr. Clough.
“We understood, but many people in the community did not. They somehow thought that our junior high school was failing our students—and that wasn’t the case.”
The change in designation means the district will now have greater flexibility in how it uses its resources. Instead of spending money and assigning teachers to run mandatory extra help programs, the district can now target its teaching on areas proven to improve student performance.