Dear West Hempstead Parents and Residents,
As we begin midwinter recess, I want to clarify some information that you may have seen in local media and provide you with a deeper understanding and framework of the issue.
The New York State Education Department has released a report regarding the accountability status of school districts throughout the state. This report is based on a variety of data, including student progress on the state’s English language arts and math assessments administered every year in grades 3-8. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the state is required to issue this report, which is designed to identify schools in need of improvement.
Our district was notified that George Washington Elementary School has been designated as a Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) school. The state formula used to determine which schools receive the TSI designation takes into account how various subgroups within the school perform on the assessments (subgroups can be designated by ethnicity, English language learners, economically disadvantaged, etc.). The district has been identified as a Targeted District due to the accountability rating we received for one subgroup within the school (African American) based on the subgroup’s performance on the state assessments last school year.
It is important to understand that student participation in the state assessments is factored into the complex formula that the state uses in its report. In West Hempstead, more than 30% of students elected to opt out of the state assessments in spring 2019. This factored into the state’s formula, leading to our designation as a Targeted District.
We appealed this designation with the New York State Education Department based on our students’ performance on other benchmarks, specifically the NWEA, which correlates to the state’s ELA and math assessments. Our students’ performance on the NWEA indicates that had all students taken the state assessments, our district would have met the state’s goal and we would not have been identified as a Targeted District. In our discussions with the SED, they have confirmed this conclusion. Unfortunately, the SED has not granted our appeal of the TSI designation; however, neighboring districts using the same NWEA benchmarks were successful in their similar petitions. Please be assured that we are continuing discussions with SED.
I strongly believe that our designation as a Targeted District is not indicative of the great progress we have made as a district over the past several years. The graduation rate among our African American students has increased from 84% to 95% over the past several years, with an average of 94% in the past three years for this subgroup. This is just one example of the growth we have seen districtwide, which is also evident in the number of students passing Regents exams at the high school level.
We will continue to keep you updated should our appeal be successful. I hope you have a wonderful midwinter recess, and I look forward to seeing you around the district in the coming months!
Superintendent of Schools