At the last New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board meeting a reading plan was proposed due to the fact that in 2005-2006 state tests will be administered to third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Although no evaluation of any school's performance, or of an individual student's performance, for that matter, should ever hinge on a single measure, however, the emphasis on test results and especially on comparisons of tests results is now a fact of life for school districts and their constituents.
Therefore, a new District Action Plan has been developed by the superintendent of schools and the administrative team. Other districts were visited in order to learn about programs and strategies that may have been successful elsewhere.
The plan is intended to serve as a framework for the district vision and to not only seek short-term solutions, but also to develop long terms goals.
For the first time in years, the district is eligible for a Title I grant. Using Title I monies, an additional reading teacher was allocated to the two schools who are most in need. Further, a homogeneous grouping pilot used at Hillside Grade School was successful, and was approved. Although there was no summer Reading Program last year, nor will there be one this year, due to space and financial constraints, there will be a Summer ESL program this year that is funded through a grant.
The district also redesigned the only district instructional director position to increase the focus on curriculum. The position is now titled Director of Curriculum and Instruction. The change, however, has not solved the program of the time-consuming task of collecting, reporting, verifying and updating state test data. But, through the use of the Professional Development Plan team and the efforts of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction the staff development plan has been reinvigorated.
The district has taken further steps, including:
1. Increase attention to the coordination of curriculum.
2. Continue to deliver meaningful staff development opportunities.
3. Provide additional support in planning, classroom management and instruction to new teachers.
4. Review the current delivery model of support staff and introduce greater emphasis on teaming, playing close attention to the specific needs at each school.
5. Develop School Plans of Action to Improve Reading and other academic areas.
6. Introduce computer assisted instruction program for students who are a year or more behind in kindergarten and in first and second grades.
7. Ensure all teachers in every grade are familiar with the state standards which are measured by the various state tests.
8. Greater use will be made of pre-testing to identify individual student needs and plan strategies to address those needs.
9. Changes in the writing portfolio format will be introduced.
10. Introduce an Early Literacy Profile in kindergarten to be administered three times during the year.
11. Revise Odyssey Program to align more closely enrichment activities with academic expectations of high performance according to state standards.
12. Take additional steps as budget allows: There are a number of steps that should be taken; however at this time, budgetary restrictions do not allow immediate implementation. When possible the district should: introduce spring third grade reading clinics; re-introduce the summer reading program; introduce the accelerated reading program to encourage independent reading. The computer-managed reading program is designed to encourage all children to read independently and to strive for goals according to their abilities.
In closing, the report stated, "We have been doing a great deal to enhance our language arts program in the past few years. However, improving the students' reading achievement will continue to be one of our highest priorities. The goal remains the same: to have every child performing at his or her potential.
Residents who would like to examine this report in detail may do so by calling the Superintendent Rudaitis' office at 352-6257 ext. 238.