It’s been a long time coming, but Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey received a letter from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) stating that, once the State makes its official review visit in the early part of March, the District and Batavia Middle School will be off of the NYSED District/Focus School list in 2016-2017. Middle School staff were invited to a brief meeting Friday morning for the announcement.
“We wanted you to be the first to know,” Dailey said. “Even though this was always viewed as a district-wide process, most of the efforts were concentrated here, and we appreciate all your hard work. So, thank you, and congratulations.”
The process began several years ago, going into the 2012-2013 school year, when the District was notified that it had not met New York State’s proficiency benchmarks for one subgroup of students and, as a result, had been identified as a Focus District that was required to choose at least one school on which to focus efforts toward improvement for this subgroup. Because the Middle School had the greatest number of students in the specified subgroup, it was named as the Focus School.
The District then assembled a school improvement committee which, from that point forward, reviewed data, recommendations, and survey input to develop annual school improvement plans built around six tenets identified by NYSED’s Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness as aligning with research-based proven practices of effective schools: 1) District Leadership and Capacity, 2) School Leader Practices and Decisions, 3) Curriculum Development and Support, 4) Teacher Practices and Decisions, 5) Student Social and Emotional Developmental Health, and 6) Family and Community Engagement.
The criteria for being removed from the list included (1) meeting State participation requirements for all accountability groups for ELA and math; (2) meeting State achievement goals for the specified subgroup for two consecutive years; (3) meeting State achievement goals for averaged scores of all students in grades 3-12 for two consecutive years; and (4) having no subgroup fall below the minimum State achievement benchmarks during that time period.
Batavia Middle School Principal Sandy Griffin, noting several positive outcomes not numerically measurable, said “Our faculty has increased collaboration and the use of data to inform decision making. They have a deeper understanding of the Common Core Learning Standards and have been more actively involved in writing curriculum.
"Throughout the building – faculty, students, and staff – have a renewed commitment to and enthusiasm for the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) initiatives and to working as a team to create the best environment for learning and growing.”
Says Dailey, “This is a tremendous accomplishment by the administrators and staff of the Middle School and District. Together we have created a community of learners that pushes themselves to improve each day. We have taken a very positive approach to improvement that has paid off by our change in status with NYSED.”
UPDATE Feb. 29: Following a reader's inquiry about which subgroup triggered the inclusion on the focus list, we contacted the school district. We were told that:
"In the 2010-2011 school year, the Middle School missed the State Performance Index (PI) by 4 points with the African-American subgroup."