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School districts partner to boost middle school achievement

Student arrive Tuesday at Lindell Elementary School in

Student arrive Tuesday at Lindell Elementary School in Long Beach for the first time since superstorm Sandy hit. (Nov. 13, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Long Beach school district will team up with New Hyde Park-Garden City Park in an effort to boost academic achievement among the former's middle school students, while William Floyd will partner with Carle Place to do the same, the state announced Monday.

State Education Department officials said that Long Beach and William Floyd were awarded about $150,000 each in "replication" grants to pay for cooperative projects with their partner districts. The grants are part of $2.2 million going to 15 public schools statewide, out of 25 schools that applied.

Long Beach will use much of its grant money to buy electronic blackboards and notepads to improve learning at the district's 900-student middle school, Superintendent David Weiss said. Funding also will go to staff training. The idea is to borrow from technological techniques used successfully in New Hyde Park-Garden City Park schools.

"The greatest thing in education is when you don't have to reinvent the wheel," Weiss said.

The state designated Long Beach Middle School as "in need of improvement" for the 2011-12 academic year, because the school's African-American students and those with disabilities fell below performance targets in English and math. A majority of students passed state tests in both subjects, however.

William Floyd will use most of its funding to train teachers in how to use test-score data to improve instruction at the 970-student William Paca Middle School, according to Superintendent Paul Casciano. That school, too, was deemed "in need of improvement" for reasons similar to Long Beach, though its students' test scores were somewhat lower.

David Flatley, the Carle Place schools chief, said his district has worked for more than 10 years to improve the use of test scores in tailoring instruction for groups of students and for individuals. For example, he said, a teacher might use more word problems to help a student improve in math if test data showed that the student had strong English skills.

"We try to identify strengths as well as weaknesses," he said.

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