Most students don’t like the day that their report card arrives in the mail. What many don’t realize is that school districts also receive report cards, albeit from the state, indicating how the students are performing.
Officials at the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District recently reviewed the results from their 2011-12 report card at a board of education meeting on October 15 at the Manor Oaks School focusing on results from the recent English Language Arts (ELA), math and science exams. The results are scored on a scale from 1 to 4, with 3 and 4 being considered proficient.
Overall the district has a large number of students scoring in level 3 and 4, with 81 percent on grade three in ELA, 83 percent in grade 4, 82 percent in grade five and 85 percent in grade six. By comparison, Nassau County is at 72, 75, 73 and 71 percent, respectively.
“Our sixth grade ELA results were very good this year,” director of curriculum and instruction and technology Judith LaRocca said.
In math, the percentages achieving level 3 or 4 is as follows: grade three: 82 percent; grade four: 91 percent; grade five: 90 percent; grade six: 89 percent.
“Very high results,” LaRocca said, highlighting that 60 percent of sixth graders achieved level 4. “Our math results are vey good and an even high percentage scoring at level 4.”
In comparison, Nassau averages were 76, 82, 81 and 79 in math for the respective grade levels.
The science exam is only given in fourth grade, but 88 percent of students in New Hyde Park-Garden City Park scored at level 4 and 9 percent scored at level 3. No students scored at level 1.
LaRocca further broke down the results by building, again highlighting the gap between the district and the county average. At Manor Oaks, 93 percent of sixth graders scored in level 3 and 4, 22 percent above the county average. At Hillside Grade, 100 percent were proficient on the science exam, with no student scoring on level 1 or 2.
“You can see that our results on the state exams are very, very good,” LaRocca said.
Superintendent Robert Katulak presented a comparison chart between results from other districts and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park.
“When you read the papers and everything, everybody always talks about the Syosset School District or the Roslyn School District and when you look at our scores, we’re right there,” he said.
For the third grade ELA, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park had 81.2 percent of students scoring 3 or better compared to 81.6 in East Williston, 84.9 in Herricks, 80.8 in Franklin Square, 82.6 in Syosset and 79.4 in Roslyn.
“When you take out debt service and capital projects, the regular budget per pupil expenditure for our district is $17,821 whereas for Syosset they spend $29,000 per student,” Katulak said. “So the amount of money that we’re spending to save the taxpayers those increases in their taxes is still producing tremendous results with the students and that’s due to the efforts of an amazing teaching staff.”
In fourth grade ELA, the district was essentially tied with Syosset at 83.3 and 83.8, respectively, and 85.9 for East Williston, the only two districts to be ahead of New Hyde Park-Garden City Park on that exam.
“We picked these because these are the school districts that everybody says ‘oh, how did you do according to this one? and how did you do according to that one?’,” Katulak said. “We’re holding our own with Roslyn and Herricks and Syosset.”
In the sixth grade New Hyde Park-Garden City Park scored the highest by comparison by district with 85.8 percent achieving proficiency.
“The fox won the race so we’re there,” the superintendent said.
In math Katulak admitted that “we can do a little bit better,” he said of the district’s 81.4 percent result, “but remember, third grade is the toughest test because it’s the first time they experience it so we have in our budget, clinic for every child in the third grade across the district so they have an opportunity to do it.”
Fifth grade scores are over 90 percent in math, similar to the other districts and the sixth grade is also similar at 89.3 with only Franklin Square, Syosset and East Williston scoring higher.
“So, when somebody says ‘oh, you’re from New Hyde Park-Garden City Park’ you say ‘yes, and we’re proud of it; we get outstanding results and we pay a lot less taxes than you do’,” Katulak said. “So it’s one of the things that we take our pride in as we move forward to continue to work on our program.”
Previewing the future, Katulak said that the in the next few years the district will face changing demographics in regards to second-language learners, who are not only in kindergarten, but sometimes in fourth or fifth grade. The superintendent estimated that of the 55 universal pre-K students, about half were from second-language households.
“These students, once their in the school for one year, must take the same test as everybody who’s been in it since kindergarten, so just imagine yourself, tomorrow your husband, wife, significant other tells you you have to move to Russia and you’re going to live in a community and work in a community where the only language that you’re able to speak and work in is Russian and you have no background in Russian; that’s what happens to some of these kids who come into our schools with English as their second language.”
New Hyde Park-Garden City Park also has a challenge in its self-contained students meeting same benchmarks as regular students.
“We’re working on many different programs and we see some significant gains with a programs such as System 44 to help the child get the sound-symbol connections so that they can blend letters into words,” Katulak said.
There will also be new state assessments in 2013-14 to coincide with the new common core learning standards. The district has new intervention programs such as Wilson Reading for ELA starting with Fundations in kindergarten and first grade and a 1:1 or 1:3 tutorial and Systems 44 that focuses on language fluency for students.
“One of the six shifts in ELA standards is the emphasis on fluency so we’re working to do that,” Katulak said.
The Read 180 program also addresses one of the other shifts – text complexity – that presents students with text-based questions that become more complicated as students move forward.
“The new assessment is going to have all questions in which the student must go back into the passage and cite the phrase or the sentence that supports their answer,” Katulak said, explaining that students will be asked to produce argumentative or persuasive writing and the district has expanded its non-fiction libraries to help students in that endeavor. In math, students have a “problem of the day” in which they have to explain their answer.
“The shift is to go a mile deep and an inch wide,” Katulak said. “To teach less concepts during the year and more in-depth so that they’ll master something.”
In fifth and six grade the district uses a program called “Fraction Nation” that is dedicated to decimals and fraction learning.
There is also an online social studies program from Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES that incorporates common core ELA, on which teachers were trained on October 15, as well as online textbooks for parents with resources and progress monitoring with the STAR assessment that is given three times a year as a way of benchmarking student progress.