Lowest performing schools in NY span urban and rural districts

Lowest performing schools in NY span urban and rural districts

(N.Y.) The New York Department of Education’s list of lowest performing schools released last week highlights the struggle high needs school districts face both in urban centers and rural communities.

Under federal Every Student Succeeds Act, each state must identify which schools require additional support and intervention services.

The bottom 5 percent of schools in student performance, for instance, are labeled as Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools. These schools received the lowest scores across multiple accountability indicators, or regularly have graduation rates that fall below 67 percent.

Outside of New York City, 28 rural school districts were identified as needing comprehensive support, as were 41 schools in urban and suburban districts, and 41 schools in the four large city school districts–Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.

“New York’s ESSA plan is designed to improve equity in student outcomes by identifying the schools and districts that need additional support,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement. “With these new school accountability determinations, a community engagement process is started to develop and implement evidence-based strategies to increase student achievement in our neediest schools so all students in New York State have access to a high-quality education.”

This year’s accountability determinations are based on data from the 2017-18 school year, and mark the first time where every district and public school received a score of one to four for each of the state’s six ESSA accountability indicators–which include student achievement in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies; chronic absenteeism rates; 4-, 5-, and 6-year graduation rates; and college and career readiness.

Based on their scores, schools fall into one of three categories: good standing, eligible for comprehensive support, or eligible for targeted support. Schools are identified as needing targeted support if one or more student subgroups–which include English learners and low-income youth–performs at a level “1” on a combination of indicators.

All the schools that have been identified as needing additional support must now engage with families and community stakeholders to develop a school improvement plan. Those identified for comprehensive improvement will also need to include at least one school-wide improvement strategy, such as changing how funds are spent or strengthening how classrooms support students’ social and emotional health.

The five largest districts accounted for about half of the schools identified as needing comprehensive support.

Eighty schools in New York City were identified for comprehensive support–representing 5 percent of all NYC schools. In Buffalo, eight schools were identified, representing 15 percent of its schools; Rochester had 21 schools identified, representing 44 percent of schools in the city; Syracuse had 10 schools, or 32 percent; and Yonkers had two schools, also representing 5 percent of its sites.

Among the rest of the state, 124 schools were identified, representing about 3 percent of all New York State schools.

In all, 41 of the schools identified for comprehensive support were in high need urban and suburban districts. Nearly 30 were in high need rural districts. Perhaps surprisingly, 48 of the schools were in districts considered to be of average need.

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