At their monthly board meeting on Thursday, July 5, the Levittown Board of Education discussed a new program which would ultimately benefit the education of all students, from those in kindergarten to 12th graders looking to graduate. The program, "Academic Intervention Services," is designed to aid students who are in need of academic help in one or more curricular subjects.
"We have to come up with our own measurements to determine which students need to be placed into the intervention program," explained Superintendent of Schools Herman Sirois.
Sirois further explained that these measures will more than likely be in the form of some kind of testing, where students' results on these examinations will help conclude whether or not they need academic assistance. Since this intervention program does not have to be approved by the state, although it is now a state requirement, there is more flexibility allowed for the schools to enforce the program and put it into action.
Sirois explained that while the program is now a state requirement, each school district is given leeway and flexibility to decide how they want to put the program into play. In essence, it lies upon the principal of the school to see how children will be drafted into the program.
For the purpose of meeting these new conditions, the schools will have to categorize students for the first time, separating them into three levels. The first classification is "just below standard," meaning just that, the student's academic performance is slightly below what is considered to be the state standard. Next is "moderately below standard," and the third is "significantly below standard."
With this new program, students who measure to be below state standards will now be provided with remedial programs to help boost their scholastic performances. Children in kindergarten through 12th grade will be provided with assistance in English Arts and Mathematics, while once in fourth grade they may also receive aid in social studies and science subjects. The program is formatted this way since generally students don't begin to learn of science or social studies until they have reached at least the fourth grade level, or already surpassed it.
Those students who fall into the "just below" or "moderately below" standard divisions will be provided with corrective programs to help them get back on track. The intensity of these dockets will vary depending on how much assistance the student actually requires.
Those who fall into the "significantly below" standard will be automatically reviewed for special education services. They will then be further reviewed to determine if they need additional intervention services. These services include a classroom setting with fewer students, perhaps a two-teacher environment, after school extra help session, or even summer school, depending on each student's individual needs.
"With this requirement comes a requirement for parental notification," Sirois stated at the meeting. "This notification includes the intensity and description of the kind of services the child needs, as well as reports on how they are doing and progressing. These all have to be told to parents in advance."
Under this program, parents will have an opportunity to meet with teachers during the school year, and will also be told of how they can work with the child at home to help improve their performance in school. The school district feels that children who cannot meet state requirements may not be on the right track and it's very necessary that parents are aware. In addition, when children prove they are ready to exit the program, the school must have written notification sent to the parents. There will also be criteria for exiting, which will be better known to the schools once they have familiarized themselves with the state requirements.
The student must begin the new program in the semester after it has been identified that he/she needs help. Once the determination has been recognized by the school, the parent(s) will be notified immediately.
"If a child is having trouble in a particular subject, it is usually recognizable by the end of the school year," Sirois noted. In addition, he also explained that students who experience difficulties in school tend to struggle in more than just one subject area.
The only determination the school is sure of as far as exiting the program is concerned is that a student may be dismissed by passing a state required Regents exam. Again, this is why help in certain subjects are to be offered at particular grade levels. Students can also remain in the program all throughout high school, until they have graduated, or beyond if they do not graduate.
Students generally take the sequential math 1 Regents exam (soon to become "Math A") in ninth grade, as well as their first Regent science exam. In tenth grade, they take their global studies Regents exam, and the US History and government as well as Comprehensive English exams are taken in 11th grade.
Since students are required to not only take, but also pass, the five needed Regents exams in order to graduate, each of these subjects will be offered in the new program, just at various grade levels.
Academic intervention for the first time realizes that problems students are having could go beyond academics. As Sirois explained at the meeting, "they could be related to social welfare, they could be psychological, disciplinary, etc." The school intends to help in any way possible to support students in getting back on track.
The program and its measurements for determination will be better known and understood by the public once the schools familiarize themselves with the state standards. Criteria for indicating a child is in need will be clearer, as will the enforcement of the program and what types of testing the students will have to undergo.
"We will need to familiarize ourselves with state standards before fully understanding local school standards," Sirois explained. "We will know more as we learn more."