It's full steam ahead for academics at John Kennedy School, according to Principal Paul Kesler, who delivered a progress report to the Batavia City Schools board at Tuesday night's meeting.
On standardized testing, John Kennedy students are outpacing their peers in other districts, Kesler said.
Kesler completed a comparison of third- and fourth-grade students among 16 similar-sized cities and JK's third-graders have the highest English Language Arts scores and second highest in math. For fourth-graders, they rank third and fourth in ELA and math.
"As you can see from the pattern," Kesler said standing in front of a bar chart, "there's really a straight line year after year in terms of small cities."
The third-grade class is the first to pass through the district since the realignment of schools before their kindergarten year.
Kesler also compared JK results with the 22 other districts in the region and JK students are in the 80th percentile in ELA and 90th in math.
On another math test, 35 percent of the students tested at level 4, which Kesler said was impressive.
"I'm really proud of that because now it's no longer just our top A students who performing at that high level," Kesler said. "It's really all of our students are moving along."
Kesler, who is in his 12th year at the school, praised the work of the school's staff and thanked the district board for helping him recruit and hire talented teachers.
The school also undertook an aggressive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts/design and math) curriculum this year and Kesler said it's going well so far.
There have been three STEAM sessions for the students and STEAM topics are being worked into other parts of the curriculum.
For example, students are going to read "Charlotte's Web" this year, so there will be corresponding instruction on insects and how spiders build their webs, which gets into engineering.
"It's exciting," he said. "When the kids get excited, I get excited."
As for the future, with the district now supplying each student with Chromebooks, there's no longer a need for a computer lab. The plan, Kesler said, is to turn the former computer lab into a STEAM lab and a maker space. It will be a paperless space, he said. For example, the desktops will be white boards, which students can use for their calculations.