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State of Education: Focus districts
New York State Education Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch paid a visit to the Poughkeepsie School District this week, one of 70 focus districts across the state. Vince Gallagher reports.
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"The federal government asked us to identify those districts that have the most significant performance concerns and focus their leaders’ attention on trying to improve performance,” said NYS Education Commissioner, John King.
Focus districts have been defined by the state as districts that have the highest percentage of non-proficient and non-graduate student results. But then many, like Poughkeepsie, have also been improving with the help of School Improvement Grants
"They've invested in teachers, they've invested in common core curriculum, they've invested in the length of their school day, they've invested in their professional staff," said NYS Regents Chancellor,
Then there's a question of sustaining the situation. Just like other districts across the state, Poughkeepsie High School's grant runs out after the third year. Now that these improvements are in place, how does a school continue to pay for them?
“The SIG grant is huge for this building, for this district and hopefully after the three years is up, they'll be some other monies out there to help continue those programs we've established,” said Edgar Glascott, Poughkeepsie High School principal.
"As a state, I think we need to look at how to continue to help give school aid to districts that have really shown a serious attempt to turn around a struggling school environment," said Tisch.
And that environment goes beyond the classroom
“But then the other issue is how to make sure you're addressing some non-academic challenges that students face and certainly districts being thoughtful about that,” said King.
Other school districts making the focus district list include Rochester, Binghamton, and Cortland. In many cases, progress is being made, and the point is not just send money to a district that's struggling, but to one that is working towards results
“Asking us to show us your plan for turnaround, asking us to show us your plan to raise academic achievement, asking districts to show us your plan to increase professional development around the new higher standards known as common core," said Tisch.
As schools continue to make the grade.