High Schools Need Improvement

New York State listed the 228 High Schools Identified As Needing Improvement today. I’m happy to say we’re not on this list, but we are a high school in need of improvement. Our teachers and students can do better and we have too many dropouts. I can do better as their principal.

Every good teacher and administrator knows that we can always do better. In addition to the day to day management of our building and all that it encompasses, I spend a tremendous amount of time researching and problem solving to increase our achievement and graduation rate. We look at the test results, teaching practices, curriculum, literacy, professional development opportunities, culture, drop out prevention plans, school climate, and especially, at our students.  And thank goodness, we had gains in June’s Regents results that helped us make AYP (adequate yearly progress) and keeps us as a school in good standing.

I live in dread that we won’t continue to improve, despite our best efforts, and we’ll end up “on the list”. Defined as a failure.

But hey, New York State is happy to help as they’ve outlined corrective action. That’s great because I’ll take any good idea I can get, anything that’s scientifically research based anyway. And I’d like to spend more money and time on high quality professional development.  I provide written notification to parents on our results. We already have a teacher mentoring program. And hell, I’ve no idea how to promote more parent involvement. They’re either really involved or never involved. Our building improvement team sponsors six or seven major events per year to improve climate and to bring in our families, so we can do more there. Maybe being on the “list” won’t be so bad anyway. I just hope if G-Town lands on the list, they give us more direction than that ’cause I’m already there.

  1. Certainly at the high school level there is much improvement. NYS HS students will be taking real courses with recognizable names for the first time in 20 years or so.

    I have heard lower elementary teachers (granted, not math-phobic) complain about too much being removed.

    But the scariest piece, for me, is the amount of high school algebra that has been pushed down into now even 5th grade. The kiddies’ level of abatraction in most cases is just not far enough advanced.

    And the pre- and post- ? Was not a good idea. Teachers will teach their material (for the test) up until March, but most will not work on next year’s material for another teacher from March through June.

  2. When NY State changed from course I, II and III to Math A and B, there were very few guidelines. They didn’t want to impede our creativity? or something like that. We see how well that has worked out. We have students passing the Math A exam with scores that would be 43% if it weren’t for such an enormous scale. And don’t even look at Math B, where we give students no help at all with the curve. Thankfully this nightmare will be behind us shortly. The new curriculum for Math is vertically aligned from K – 12, and has eliminated the awful stall in education which occurred in the middle level grades. The new curriculum is extremely detailed about what needs to be covered, right down to pre and post- march for grades 3 – 8. I’ve been staying extremely optimistic that NY State listened to teachers, looked at research and has developed a good plan to get our kids back on track and competitive in this area. Let’s hope that NY State commits to this curriculum to see it through the 13th year when our first students will have completed the entire journey from K – 12.

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