Four Ithaca Schools Cited by NYS Education Department for Poor Academic Performance | Ithaca

Four Ithaca Schools Cited by NYS Education Department for Poor Academic Performance | Ithaca

This year, two more schools in the Ithaca City School District, Boynton and Dewitt middle schools, have lost “good standing” with New York State, following Enfield and Beverly J. Martin Elementary schools which lost their good standing status last year. Losing this status means that specific student groups or the entire student group has low performance, according to the New York State Education Department (NYSED). 

NYSED released the 2023-24 accountability designations, which are based on data collected from the 2022-23 academic year, in January of 2024. Boynton and Dewitt were classified as “targeted support and improvement schools” (TSI) by the state, which means they have specific student groups that are performing poorly. 

Of the total public schools in the state, only 3.4% received the TSI status for 2023-24. To identify TSI schools at the middle and elementary level, NYSED analyzes weighted average achievement, core subject performance, English language proficiency and chronic absenteeism. 

While this system of accountability statuses was implemented in 2017, both schools have never lost their good standing status, until this year. 

Notably, from the 2022-23 data collected, only 7% of grade 8 students were found to be “proficient” in math in Dewitt. This data does not include the scores of eighth grade students who take an advanced math class, typically in ninth grade level algebra 1.

Student proficiency in math for grades 6 and 7, along with proficiency in ELA for grades 6-8, ranged from 56% to 64%. 21.1% of Dewitt’s students were chronically absent. Students who are considered “chronically absent” missed 10% or more of the days they were enrolled in school. 

At Boynton, 26% of grade 8 students were proficient in math, while ELA proficiency for grades 6-8 ranged from 46% to 68%. Additionally, 30% of grade 8 students were proficient in science and 25.5% percent of students were chronically absent. 

NYSED found that at Boynton and Dewitt, African American students were the target group that needed improvements to academic performance, having disproportionate rates of chronic absenteeism and proficiency scores compared to their peers. At Boynton, 60% of Black or African American students at the school were chronically absent, and at Dewitt, it was 39.5%.

Beverly J. Martin Elementary school is also classified as a TSI by the state, but Enfield is classified as a comprehensive support and improvement school (CSI), meaning that the school has overall low performance across all student groups. From the 2023-23 data collected, NYSED found that both schools made no progress towards improving their accountability status.

Schools that are in “good standing,” are classified as “local support and improvement schools” (LSI) by the state. Just over 93% of schools in New York state were in good standing in the 2023-24 report. 

With four of ICSD’s 12 schools not in good standing, ICSD has become classified as a “target district,” falling into the 18.4% of New York State school districts that have this distinction. Becoming a target district means ICSD will be required to “develop an annual District Comprehensive Improvement Plan (DCIP) informed by school-level needs assessments and SCEPs completed within the district,” according to NYSED

For their 2023-24 DCIP, ICSD said their three main goals were to increase the capacity of teachers in the area of culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practices, increase family engagement through centering student voices and ensure cohesive curriculum in English language arts and mathematics that is aligned horizontally and vertically. 

Carlan Gray, principal for Dewitt Middle School, declined to comment on the change in accountability status and the next steps for Dewitt Middle School. Boynton Middle School Principal Lauren Wright and Superintendent Luvelle Brown did not immediately respond to a request for comment. If they respond, this story will be updated. 

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