The administrative staff at Jamestown Public Schools has submitted for approval its comprehensive improvement plans to the state Education Department.
The improvement plans come as a result of Jamestown's label of a focus district by the state Education Department. The district has been given the label due to inadequate student achievement results in two sub-groups: students with disabilities and English language learners.
These results, taken from third- through eighth-grade testing, do not meet with criteria set forth by the state.
"The state gave us the authority to designate focus schools within our district," said Deke Kathman, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools. "Because all of our schools have enrolled (students with disabilities) and the majority have (English language learners) students, we've decided to designate each one of our schools as focus schools so that all of our staff and students would benefit from the specific and rigorous improvement planning process that comes from this designation."
Due to this designation, the district was required to draw up nine individual school improvement plans as well as an all-encompassing comprehensive district improvement plan. All 10 of these improvement plans were approved by the JPS Board of Education at its meeting on Tuesday evening and submitted to the state on the following day.
According to Kathman, the format for these plans has been defined by the state.
"There are six areas in which we are obliged to set goals and define specific activities to realize those goals," he said. "(These goals and activities) are developed by the school districts around the state and we are obliged to develop those based on the individual school and/or district need. For example, most of our schools have an (English language learners) program but not all do, so we wouldn't have an activity for that program in the schools that don't have it."
The six areas mentioned by Kathman are known as "The Six Fundamental Tenets for Improvement" and are as follows: district leadership, school leadership, curriculum development, teacher practices, social and emotional health and family and community engagement.
According to Kathman, some of the district's schools will be reviewed by a team representing the state. The rest of the schools will be reviewed by a district team with the help of its outside educational expert, Ann Maguire, from the Erie 2 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES.
"It's a substantive process and directs us to the right thing," said Kathman.
Currently, there are 70 focus districts and 496 focus schools throughout New York state. Other focus districts in Chautauqua County include Ripley and Dunkirk.