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State 3-8 tests show some progress, emphasize needs

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 23, 2016) -- City School District of Albany students in grades 3-8 made some progress on the state English-language arts and math exams this year – most notably at William S. Hackett Middle School. However, the district’s overall results continued to show a need for significant improvement district-wide.


On the ELA exam, 18 percent of the district’s students achieved proficiency – scoring Level 3 or Level 4, the top levels in the state’s four-tiered grading system. That represented a gain of 3 percentage points from 2015, when 15 percent of the district’s students achieved proficiency in ELA.


In math, the percentage of students achieving proficiency remained at 14 percent.


The district’s results were similar to the pattern statewide, where students gained 7 percentage points in ELA (38 percent proficiency, up from 31 percent) and 1 percentage point in math (39 percent, up from 38 percent a year ago). Please visit the State Education Department website for complete district and statewide data.


“While we are pleased to see progress in some areas and grade levels, we know that we have much work ahead of us to help all of our students succeed,” said Interim Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins, Ed.D.


“We will be focused on those efforts in 2016-17, with a particular emphasis on building our students’ skills in the earliest years of school so that they will be better prepared for academic success as they get older.”


Bright spots

Hackett achieved the most notable gains on this year’s state exams, and several other schools experienced strong progress at certain grade levels as well.  


One year removed from the threat of a state takeover through the receivership law, Hackett had the highest percentages of sixth-grade students achieving proficiency in the city in 2016 – district or charter schools.


In ELA, 40 percent of Hackett’s sixth-graders scored Level 3 or Level 4, up from 26 percent in 2015. In math, 35 percent of the school’s sixth-graders achieved proficiency, up from 18 percent a year ago.


Hackett’s eighth-graders also had the highest rate of proficiency in the district at that grade level in ELA, with 30 percent scoring Level 3 or Level 4. That compared to 19 percent in 2015.


Hackett was placed in receivership last summer due to its persistently low student achievement. However, the state announced in February that the school would come out of receivership after the 2015-16 school year due to its academic progress in 2014-15. This year’s progress accelerated that improvement.


Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy will enter its second year in receivership in 2016-17. However, the school showed improvement on the state exams for the second year in a row.


Schuyler students in grades 3-5 showed gains in all grades and subjects except fourth-grade ELA this year as compared to 2015. Over two years, Schuyler has improved at all grade levels and in both subjects, most notably 14-point and 15-point gains in third-grade ELA and math, respectively.


The largest single gain in the district came in fourth-grade ELA at New Scotland Elementary School. The proficiency rate increased from 25 percent in 2015 to 47 percent this year. That was the district’s highest percentage of fourth-graders reaching Level 3 or Level 4 in ELA.


These schools also experienced double-digit gains (percent of students achieving proficiency in 2015 compared to 2016):

  • Arbor Hill

    • Fourth-grade ELA, 0 to 10

  • Eagle Point

    • Fourth-grade ELA, 18 to 36

    • Fourth-grade math, 20 to 37

    • Sixth-grade math, 8 to 24

  • Montessori

    • Third-grade ELA – 25 to 38 (tying New Scotland for highest in the district)

    • Third-grade math – 28 to 41 (highest in the district)

    • Fifth-grade ELA – 32 to 46 (highest in the district)

  • New Scotland

    • Third-grade ELA – 28 to 38 (tying Montessori for highest in the district)

    • Third-grade math – 28 to 38

  • North Albany

    • Sixth-grade ELA – 0 to 15

  • Pine Hills

    • Fourth-grade ELA – 14 to 33

    • Fourth-grade math – 19 to 30

  • Schuyler

    • Third-grade ELA – 9 to 19

  • Sheridan Prep

    • Third-grade math – 4 to 15


    • Third-grade ELA – 9 to 20


Improvement plans

For 2016-17, the district has structured its academic budget to support an increased focus on the early childhood (prekindergarten-grade 2) and elementary levels, social-emotional supports, special education and English as a new language.


The district also has revised its Student Code of Conduct to provide greater clarity and consistency for students, families and staff, to provide more and better support to help all students stay on track in the classroom, and to end the disproportionate rate of suspensions for black students and students with disabilities.


“We are grateful to the Board of Education and to our community for supporting our planned investments in these critical areas in 2016-17,” Dr. Wilkins said. “We also will continue our efforts to provide professional development to staff, and technical support and instructional resources to schools.


“We will work collaboratively with our teachers to initiate new programs, implement new curriculum and monitor each student’s academic progress.”


Continued efforts to encourage parents, guardians and community members to be more involved at school also will be an emphasis for the district.


“Attending school-sponsored events and parent-teacher conferences, meeting with your child’s teachers, making sure that your child completes homework and attends school regularly, and reading to your child at home are keys to academic success,” Dr. Wilkins said.


“We encourage our parents and guardians, as well as our community members, to be active partners in our academic progress.”


The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves about 9,500 students in 17 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

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