Written by Christy Hinko and Eric Holden Friday, 18 November 2011 00:00
The Levittown School District Administration has announced that the district has been named to the College Board’s second annual Advanced Placement (AP) Program’s AP Achievement District Honor Roll for increasing enrollment in college-level courses and student performance. Levittown School District is one of the 367 school districts nationwide and in Canada that were named to this prestigious honor roll, including 30 school districts in New York State.
The College Board’s AP Program provides motivated and academically prepared students with the opportunity to take more rigorous college-level courses while still in high school and to earn college credit, advanced placement or both for successful performance on the AP exam. The exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 or higher being a passing score.
Levittown Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Debbie Rifkin explained that the experience of taking an AP course, with its advanced curriculum and independent learning component, assists students in preparing for college. At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, high school students at MacArthur and Division High Schools had taken 1,149 AP Exams, and 72 percent of those students had scored a 3 or higher. This is a significant increase over three years ago, when the district’s high school students took 940 AP exams, with a 65 percent passing score of 3 or higher.
“Our goal is to open our doors to more challenging classes for students,” Rifkin stated. “Our passing rate has not suffered, but instead, has improved.”
In development of the AP Achievement District Honor Roll, the College Board examined three years of AP data. Selected districts were required to have increased participation in AP courses by at least 4r percent in large districts, 6 percent in medium-sized school districts, and 11 percent in smaller school districts. The Levittown School District’s enrollment stands at 7,429 students. In addition, the selected school districts had to show an increased participation among all ethnicities of students, as well as steady or improved performance levels from 2009 to 2011 and a passing rate of 70 percent.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Grossane stated that the district is proud of the accomplishments of the students from both high schools, who are challenging themselves with college-level courses. “Congratulations to our teaching staff who have prepared themselves and their students for these rigorous courses,” Dr. Grosanne stated. “This is a shining example of the high quality education available to students of the Levittown Public Schools.”
Later in the public school board meeting, Grossane gave an update on the school rezoning plans that the board is currently considering. The rezoning plan, which would potentially affect over two dozen current Levittown students, originally focused around the changing of the catchment area of Wisdom Lane Middle School and Division Avenue High School to fully include the current Abbey Lane Elementary School attendance zone. The issue first came up at the July 5 Board of Education meeting, but Grossane pulled the motion from the agenda at that time because he felt it needed further review and consideration.
In September, Grossane said, “Salk Middle School has approximately 200 more students than Wisdom Lane, so we’re seeing if it makes sense to balance that number, and if down the road that would lead to some kind of savings to the district. We’re only in the preliminary stages. It is under investigation, but no final decision has been made.”
At the Nov. 9 Board of Education meeting, Grossane said the board will take a good, hard look at the larger picture of how this potential change would affect the district down the road. “While things are good now in Levittown, the 2 percent tax levy cap is going to present some real constrictions to us as we move forward,” Grossane added. “We’re going to be faced with some very difficult decisions down the road. We have a great district. We want to keep it moving forward as we can, but as we said, we can only increase the amount that you can raise to do things by 2 percent tax levy. There’s only so much money that can go around.”
Grossane later said that a comprehensive study will be done, which will determine how the entire district would be affected by zoning changes. “We’ll look at enrollment trends, birth rates, we’re looking to see where everything is, based on data and information to see what’s best for the entire district,” the superintendent pointed out. “Rather than looking at something right now that might not have to do with the big picture down the road, we’re entering into a study. I spoke to the board about that, and I‘m speaking to a consultant again. We’re going to look at all our facilities, options for usage and what will best fit the needs of the Levittown Public Schools.”
The superintendent concluded his report by noting that the study will take time, and no rezoning will be done in the immediate future. “This is a look ahead into the future to see where we’re going to be,” Grossane said. “This is a very in-depth, long study, so this will take time. Sometime this spring, we’ll be able to report back on what those findings were, and what moves we want to make or not want to make.”
In other matters, the board also recognized NYSPHSAA/CSEA Excelsior Award winner Lisa Vanderburg, and MacArthur parents Brian Tannenbaum and Kevin Regan. The board will meet Nov. 30 at the Memorial Education Center for a planning session.