School District Honored

By Stephanie Mariel Petrellese

For the fourth year in a row, the Garden City School District has been recognized by the New York State Dept. of Education as “High Performing/Gap Closing,” announced Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen at the May 19th meeting of the Garden City Board of Education.

In addition, Stratford, Stewart and the Garden City Middle School were recognized individually as “High Performing/Gap Closing” schools. Primary schools are not eligible for the award.

Dr. Feirsen explained at the meeting and in a letter posted on the school district’s Web site why the high school was not included. “It is our understanding that this is not due to any dip in achievement-which has remained as strong as previous years-but to the manner in which the list is constructed,” Dr. Feirsen said in his letter.

A district and school is considered “High Performing” based upon student achievement on standardized tests. “Gap Closing” refers to the district and/or school’s efforts to ensure that all subgroups of the student population have excelled, as mandated by federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

Test scores are analyzed by breaking them down according to different student subgroups, such as special education, English language learners, students in poverty and several ethnic groups.

“The high school population this year is too homogeneous to qualify,” Dr. Feirsen said at Monday night’s Board meeting. Although the high school has enough of a special education population, two or more subgroups are needed to be considered for the award. There are currently not enough students in the minority and low-income groups at the high school.

“Somehow this has become an undertone in the community that we lack something,” Dr. Feirsen said. “Well, what we lack is diversity among the student population. Frankly, although the administration is willing to be accountable for many things, we really can’t be accountable for the homogeneity of the community.”

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