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Long Island

More Long Island schools on list of state's worst

The number of Long Island public schools on the state's low-performance lists has jumped sharply, and it includes two schools that are under the state's direct supervision.

Fifteen local schools were newly named this week by the State Education Department as failing to meet its test-score targets in reading and math. Among the latest schools designated are two in Roosevelt, a district the education agency took over five years ago.

Meanwhile, schools in the Brentwood, Middle Country, Oyster Bay-East Norwich and Westbury districts were removed from the state's lists and returned to good academic standing, after raising their scores. This produces a net total of 32 listed elementary and middle schools on the Island, roughly a 50 percent increase from last year's total of 21, but still less than 6 percent of all the Island's elementary and middle schools.

"We're devastated about it," said Shelley Saffer, the superintendent in Comsewogue, where the Terryville Elementary School is newly listed.

Names of failing high schools will be announced after Jan. 1.

The mood was brighter at New Lane Memorial Elementary School in the Middle Country district, where Principal Phyllis Sterne announced shortly after lunch Friday that her building's good academic standing had been restored. Under state and federal rules, schools falling short of targeted scores in a given year must meet standards for two consecutive years to be removed from the needs-improvement list.

"We didn't let our guard down," Sterne said, adding that her staff has focused especially on building reading comprehension and writing skills among students with disabilities.

Statewide, 117 schools are newly listed as failing to meet academic standards, bringing the total to 497. Most of those schools are in New York City, where more than 30 percent have failed to meet state standards. State education officials attribute increasing numbers to the federal No Child Left Behind law, which has expanded the total number of students tested, while stiffening requirements for youngsters with disabilities and limited English fluency.

The requirements have hit heavily in districts such as Roosevelt that have concentrations of poverty. In 2002, the state took control of Roosevelt, largely as an attempt to boost its test scores. Nonetheless, both Roosevelt's middle school and its Centennial Avenue Elementary School were added to the state's list this week.

State officials voice hope that Roosevelt will achieve a turnaround under a new superintendent, Robert-Wayne Harris, who was appointed in September. But many local residents say they're sick of promises unfulfilled.

"Really, nothing has changed," said Douglas Mayers, president of the Freeport/Roosevelt NAACP.

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