Poughkeepsie Middle School shows progress, future unclear

Poughkeepsie Middle School shows progress, future unclear

Poughkeepsie Middle School met nearly half of its progress targets last school year, but it’s unclear what that could mean for its receivership status in the future.

The state Education Department Tuesday released 2015-16 progress reports for the state’s 62 struggling schools, based on performance indicators that were jointly selected by the department and district superintendents. Poughkeepsie Middle School met 47 percent of the indicators — seven of 15.

The school, part of the Poughkeepsie City School District, was among the New York schools deemed struggling by the state and placed into receivership in 2015. The district’s high school was also in receivership last year but improved enough to be removed at the start of the 2016-17 school year.

The receivership program, approved by state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of the state’s $142 billion budget in 2015, paved the way for an outside “receiver” to oversee schools that have long been struggling to improve graduation rates and student test scores, according to Journal archives.

Schools that don’t demonstrate a certain level of improvement after two years may have to appoint an independent receiver — an individual, a nonprofit or another district — that would have sole responsibility to manage and operate the school, actions that are generally reserved for school boards.

But as long as a school remains in receivership and makes demonstrable improvement, no independent receiver will be assigned, according to the state. Schools that hit at least 67 percent of their indicators during the 2016-17 school year will be given credit for making demonstrable improvement; schools that achieve fewer than 40 percent will not.

But for schools like Poughkeepsie Middle School in that 40-67 percent range, state Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will decide (based on overall performance during the 2016-17 school year) whether or not a school will be managed by an independent receiver.

Poughkeepsie Middle School met improvement goals for safety, teacher attendance, the out-of-school suspension rate, and grades 3-8 state math test scores for students who are black and limited English proficient.

Indicators the school did not meet include adequate levels of growth in 3-8 state math test scores for all students, and English Language Arts test score improvements for black students, students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient, among others.

Right now, Poughkeepsie Superintendent Nicole Williams is “school receiver.” She has expanded authority in the district, though she has said there is “no absolute power” in the role.

Neither Williams nor Poughkeepsie board President Ralph Coates could be reached for comment by the Journal’s deadline.

Via statement, Elia said that virtually every struggling school in the state “demonstrated progress on the indicators for which they committed to improve performance. But we can’t let up now. The Regents, the Education Department and I will continue our efforts to help get all of these schools — and all of their students — on a path toward success.”

Only struggling or persistently struggling schools are eligible for receivership. “Struggling” schools have been among the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state since the 2012-13 year.

Nina Schutzman: nschutzman@poughkeepsiejournal.com, 845-451-4518 Twitter: @pojonschutzman

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Source: Poughkeepsie Journal
Poughkeepsie Middle School shows progress, future unclear

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