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It was a report card that overall, would have merited at least an ice cream cone, had it been given to a student. But it was, instead, the New York State School Report Card for the PW School District, which examined academic performance for elementary, middle, and high schools, and compared the results to similar districts. The news for this district was pleasing indeed: Port's results exceeded those of comparable districts throughout the state, often by a significant margin. Performances of middle school and high school students were especially strong. And when compared to neighboring communities, (though several sources advise against it) the district, in general, was on a par, or just below, their levels of achievement.

In his April 4 BOE presentation of the findings of the NYS School Report Card, Dr. Sheldon Karnilow, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and assessment, indicated that it was based on data that in some cases, was a year old or greater, thereby not demonstrating the outcomes of some newer, highly promising, instructional methods. Newsday's March 12 special report, "The State's Fourth Yearly Look at LI Districts" stated that their figures were for the 1998-99 school year. Part of the usefulness of this report card, Dr. Karnilow pointed out, is as a predictor of achievement on the new Regents standards for a Regents diploma. Moreover, It is helpful in identifying areas which need further emphasis and more intensive instruction.

Dr. Karnilow reported that on fourth grade English/Language Arts tests, the results were as follows:
Port Washington Similar NYS Districts
Level 4 9% 5%
Level 3 63% 43%
Level 2 27% 41%
Level 1 1% 11%

Levels 3 and 4 are the percentage of 4th graders meeting or exceeding standards in English, and, according to Newsday, on track to pass the English Regents exam in high school. Level 2 students "demonstrate some knowledge and skills for each standard, or full proficiency for some," while Level 1 students show no evidence of proficiency in one or more of the standards. "We need to provide academic intervention services to students below level 3," said Dr. Karnilow. The tallies include all students, both general and special education. It is clear how well the district fared when compared to others in the State. To identify these analogous districts, the state developed a ratio of need to resource capacity as the basis of their similar district comparisons.

Elementary school students did even better when it came to grade 4 mathematics. District students outperformed other areas deemed similar by NYS, by large margins:

Port Washington Comparable NYS Districts
Level 4* 46% 24%
Level 3* 41% 43%
Level 2 13% 23%
Level 1 0% 10%

*Levels 3 and 4 indicate meeting or exceeding standards

Newday's report included a breakdown of results by elementary school, and data for neighboring communities, as follows:

% eligible Limited English 4th gr. 4th gr.
Enrollment For free lunch Proficiency English Pass Math Pass
Guggenheim 567 3% 6% 76% 83%
Daly 422 12% 7% 73% 91%
Sousa 584 12% 13% 77% 90%
Manorhaven 502 10% 24% 61% 84%
Manhasset* 6% 3% 81% 95%
Roslyn* 6% 2% 87% 98%
Great Neck* 9% 9% 82% 97%
Herricks* 1% 11% 82% 97%

* Figures are averages of all elementary schools in the district

While this district's performance was very strong when compared to similar ones through the state, performance lagged somewhat when compared to neighboring communities. Newsday, though, cautioned readers about making comparisons with other LI districts. "Some factors contributing to a school's test scores lie beyond the control of school teachers and administrators," they wrote. Dr. Karnilow concurs with their advice about making comparisons. "We are a diverse community, in people and in degrees of income, more so than many other areas," he responded. "The needs of our students are different. What is important to know is that we are working very hard to bring everyone up to level."

The students' performance at this level was quite strong, particularly in mathematics, as shown below. In fact, Port Washington was third in Nassau County in 8th grade mathematics performance.
English/Language Arts Mathematics
PW Similar NYS District PW Sim. NYS District
Level 4 22% 9% 32% 7%
Level 3 55% 39% 45% 31%
Level 2 23% 43% 14% 33%
Level 1 0% 9% 8% 29%

These results were based on the performance of all students, which includes general education and special education. In the latter group, three were IEP exempt.

Newsday reported the following for neighboring communities' eighth graders:

Community % Eligible for Limited English Meet or Exceed Meet or Exceed
Free Lunch Proficiency Standards - English Standards-Math
Port Washington 6% 4% 77% 78%
Roslyn 5% 0% 85% 67%
Manhasset 2% 2% 77% 83%
Great Neck 8% 2% 81% 79%
(Average of 2 middle
Schools)
Herricks 2% 2% 85% 78%

An overwhelming number of students got grades of 65 or better on both the English and Math Regents exams. For Regents math or an approved alternative, 92% scored between 65 and 100; on the English Regents exam, 93% scored between 65 and 100. Passing the English Regents exam with a score of at least 65 is now a requirement for graduating from high school with a Regents diploma. The district compared favorably to the cohort performance -- those students who started as ninth graders in 1996 -- in both subjects. For math, 87% of the cohort group in the state scored at, or above, 65; for English, 91% of the cohort students scored at, or above 65.

When compared to previous years, the number of district students taking the English Regents exam and passing with a grade of 65 and above, has risen greatly, as the following chart illustrates:

94-95 95-96 96-97 97-98 98-99
Aver. Grade Enrollment 294 324 301 301 298
Students taking exam 191 244 262 299 298
Percent taking exam 70% 80% 87% 99.3% 100%
Percent passing 62% 70% 81% 88% 93%
(65 and above)

The presentation contained more good news: the number of graduates earning Regents diplomas has been steadily increasing annually. While 50% of graduates earned these diplomas in 1994-95, 65% of the 1998-1999 graduates earned Regents diplomas.

The overwhelming number of Schreiber H.S. graduates -- 93% in 1999 -- go on to college. This includes 33 of the 41 students with disabilities who graduated in 1999, though Dr. Karnilow noted how proud the district is of all 41 students. The plans of all the 1999 graduates, and the plans of those in similar districts throughout the State, and neighboring communities on LI, are presented below:

To 4-Yr. College To 2-Yr. College Regents Diploma %AP Scholars
PW School District 80% 13% 65% 23.4%
Similar Districts in NY 66% 26.7% 63.7% 13.5%
Manhasset 84% 11% 72%
Herricks 86% 13% 60%
Roslyn 86% 11% 77%

The percentage of Advanced Placement (AP) scholars refers to the number of students who sat for, and passed, AP exams; Newsday describes this category as "the percentage of students enrolled in the 12th grade named AP Scholars by the College Board." Across Long Island, about 10.8% of the seniors achieve this distinction, according to their article. The PW School District, then, has more than double that number of AP scholars.

For 1997-98, the dropout rate was .7%; it was just about equivalent to the rate in other similar districts in the State (.6%). Dr. Karnilow explained that some students who do leave, enter GED programs.

The percentage of students in this district with limited English proficiency is nearly double the Statewide percentage, and more than two-and-a-half times Nassau County's percentage, as shown below:
PW District Statewide Percentage County Percentage
12.7% 6.4% 4.8%

The report gave the following percentages for the district's ethnic populations:

White (not Hispanic).....................71.1%

Hispanic........................................13.7%

Black (non Hispanic)..................... 2.6%

Amer. Indian, Alaskan, Asian,

Or Pacific Islander....................12.7%

Test results, though, don't tell the entire story. While pleased with the results, Dr. Karnilow pointed out that he is also very gratified with the real changes he sees in instruction, like more project-based work and more differentiation of curriculum. These scores don't reflect these changes -- yet. "I think we'll see positive changes on next year's report," added Dr. Karnilow.


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