September 14, 2011


Spring pushes for better reading results

City schools superintendent says scores show not enough students readings at grade level

Staff Reporter

The fourth-quarter academic summary for Cortland city school district students from 2010-11 showed some gains and some areas that need continued attention, Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring said Tuesday.
Spring told the city Board of Education that more students from low-income households, who are on New York state’s free and reduced lunch program, are taking advanced courses. He said more students from low-income households took the accelerated math course in seventh grade, for example.
“Two years ago, there were none,” he said.
He also was pleased with Regents exam results in 11th-grade English, where 88 percent of the students passed and the mastery rate was high. So was the mastery rate on the U.S. history Regents exam.
But Spring said he still wants improvement in English language arts test scores, where results showed that too many students are behind the reading level for their grade. He said he wants all students reading at their grade level by third grade, because after that it is difficult for them to catch up.
“It’s extremely difficult to get a 16-year-old reading at high school level once their reading ability is five grades behind,” he said.
Some Cortland High School math students scored far lower on the Regents exam than they did in teacher-designed tests.
Board member John Natoli asked why that happens. He said he teaches his math courses at Westhill High School in such a way that the Regents exam is one of the easier tests his students take.
Spring said this morning it is difficult to compare the two school districts but he would like to see improvement in Regents math exams.
Spring asked the board for a list of academic goals for the district, after board members had studied his report.
Students with disabilities who received individual education plans, numbered 324 or 11 percent of the district, which is below the state average. Spring said he was a bit alarmed by the disparity in gender, as 200 of those students were boys. Board President Joe Lyman said he would like to see a breakdown of those students by disability.
The board accepted a gift of school supplies from the downtown Cortland office of Edward Jones Investments, a national financial investment firm.
Spring said the office’s staff solicited donations from clients to cover school supplies for Cortland city school district students who needed them. He said the district gave the company lists of supplies and received small quantities of three-ring binders, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and dictionaries.
The board recognized the district’s Staff of Excellence Award recipients: Brenda Houck, Barry Elementary School executive secretary, and Leona Kelemen, Parker Elementary School second-grade teacher.


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