Officials for three Jamestown Public Schools' middle schools are working on school quality reviews required for schools New York state deems as Schools in Need of Improvement.
In the wake of Jefferson, Persell and Washington middle schools being identified as schools in need of improvement by New York state, members of the Jamestown Board of Education discussed the results of the report, as well as ways to improve their standing during their board meeting Tuesday.
Daniel Kathman, district superintendent, introduced Jessie Joy, director of curriculum instruction and assessment, and Tina Sandstrom, director of elementary education, who presented a school accountability update to the board.
Ms. Joy began by explaining the No Child Left Behind and New York state school accountability system, explaining that elementary schools are held responsible for their exam scores in English language arts, mathematics and science. At the high school level, schools are again accountable for scores in ELA and math, but are also looked at for their graduation rate.
Student performance accountability is broken into ethnicity subgroups, consisting of Native American, black, Hispanic, Asian, white and multiracial, and other subgroups, consisting of students with disabilities, limited English proficient, and economically disadvantaged.
Ms. Joy explained that of the three schools needing improvement, Persell was on the list as a result of one subgroup with low results in ELA. Jefferson was based on three subgroups in both ELA and math, and Washington was a result of a number of subgroups and their performances.
The three schools are now in the process of conducting school quality reviews, which is a school improvement intervention strategy required for all schools identified in the Improvement (Year 1) phase of state Differentiated Accountability, as all three middle schools are.
This requires districts to take primary responsibility to identify areas of need and strategies for improvement. According to Ms. Sanstrom, although the process is led and facilitated by outside forces, it is not an external process, because the responsibility falls upon the schools to apply a research-based, self-assessment process.
The school-quality review breaks down to determine what makes a good school. After completing the review, schools need to submit a written report to the state Education Department detailing a two-year comprehensive educational plan. It must be based on findings and recommendations from the school-quality review report.
Part of what is required by New York state is supplemental educational services, which falls under the No Child Left Behind Act from 2001 for Title I schools needing improvement. Because the middle schools have made the list, 20 percent of the district's Title 1 funding must now be set aside to be used for additional academic instruction or tutoring.
The state Department of Education approves the qualifications of supplemental education service providers, and the school is required to contact all eligible providers, who then enter into a contract with the district to provide service to the students. The schools are in the process of contacting eligible providers. Jamestown Public Schools is one of the approved providers.
Supplemental education service is offered only to students receiving free or reduced lunches. In the Jamestown Public School District, 70 percent of children fall into this category. Parents are able to choose from a list of approved providers, as supplemental education service is a parent choice option.
"We offer the program, but can't require it. The option is left up to parents," Ms. Sandstrom said.