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State names 24 LI schools as academic high-performers

Superintendents of districts with “Reward Schools” cite “a laser-like focus” on instruction and use of data to analyze students’ test performance.

Harborfields High School in Greenlawn is shown on

Harborfields High School in Greenlawn is shown on April 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

The state Education Department recognized 24 Long Island schools Thursday as “Reward Schools” for demonstrating high academic achievement.

Being named a Reward School requires fulfillment of a combination of benchmarks, including scoring in the top 20 percent statewide in English Language Arts and math testing for the most recent two school years; posting significant gains in those exam scores in the 2016-17 academic year; and not having large achievement gaps among students in separate accountability subgroups, such as students from low-income families.

Statewide, 155 Reward Schools were recognized — 139 for academic achievement and 16 for making progress according to certain standards. It is the sixth year that the state has made the designations.

On the Island, the list included 16 schools from Nassau County and eight from Suffolk, all named as “high-performing” schools.

W. Tresper Clarke High School in Westbury, which is in the East Meadow district, was among them.

Superintendent Kenneth Card Jr., in an interview, said the recognition is “an indicator that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing with kids.”

“It goes back to building leadership — a laser-like focus on instruction, teaching and learning in the classroom, and making sure you’re putting in place those supports that students who are putting forth their best effort, but are not quite there yet, are in need of,” Card said.

The state also honored North Shore High School in Glen Head. Peter Giarrizzo, superintendent of the North Shore district, cited the system’s “strong instruction.”

“What we have done over the course of time is look at how kids are performing on the individual Regents exams, and we do a very specific item analysis by skill and standard, and then we use those results to inform instruction,” Giarrizzo said. “The numbers and the percentages of students who are scoring at the highest levels continues to increase.”

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a news release that “it’s truly impressive that so many of this year’s Reward Schools were able to maintain the designation for three years in a row. All of these schools serve as models to others in the state to inspire them to achieve a high level of accomplishment and improvement.”

A point of pride in the North Shore district is recent improvement in mastering English and math Regents exams, which equates to scoring an 85 or better, Giarrizzo said. For the 2012-13 school year, mastery on the English Regents test was 65 percent. In 2016-17, the figure was 84 percent.

Giarrizzo also pointed to results on the most recent Geometry Regents, with 28 percent of test-takers scoring an 85 or better last year. In the 2015-16 school year, the figure was 20 percent.

Harborfields Superintendent Francesco Ianni, in an interview, said, “We have some wonderful, wonderful students. They just bring the school always to the next level.”

He also attributed the district’s success, in part, to the use of data analysis, saying when “you are very meticulous about the analysis, you always find ways to improve and get better.”

LI’s Reward Schools

Nassau

John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore

Bethpage High School

W. Tresper Clarke High School, Westbury

Garden City High School

Great Neck South High School

Herricks High School

Jericho Senior High School

Locust Valley High School

Lynbrook High School

Manhasset High School

North Shore High School, Glen Head

Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School

South Side High School, Rockville Centre

Roslyn High School

Syosset High School

Wantagh High School

Suffolk

Bayport-Blue Point High School

Half Hollow Hills High School East, Dix Hills

Half Hollow Hills High School West, Dix Hills

Harborfields High School, Greenlawn

Mount Sinai High School

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, Port Jefferson

Sayville High School

Smithtown High School West

Source: State Education Department

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