Written by Joe Rizza Wednesday, 03 June 2009 12:01
In years past, the Mineola School District received a reputation for spending high but not delivering academic results. Mineola has had a high spending per pupil, which is among the highest in Nassau County, but its results, when compared to other school districts, didn’t always compare favorably. In recent years, the school district has begun to shake that reputation and recent state English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics assessment results provide further evidence that the district has made strides with regard to its test scores.
Students at the middle school level often have struggles with assessments since it is a time in a student’s life when they are making adjustments to not only a different academic environment from what they experienced in elementary school, but also a different social environment. But students at Mineola Middle School showed that the trend of scores being up in the Mineola School District also extends to the middle grades.
Students are categorized by the state in one of four level that are defined as follows:
Level IV – Exceeds the learning standards
Level III – Meets the learning standards
Level II – Partially meets the learning standards or meets part of the learning standards
Level I – Shows serious academic problems
In the eighth grade ELA assessments at Mineola Middle School, out of 193 students tested in the 2008-2009 school year, 75.6 percent achieved Level III and 13 percent achieved at Level IV while only 0.5 percent achieved at Level I and 11.4 percent achieved at Level II. At the eighth grade level, 88.6 percent of students met or exceeded state learning standards.
In the eighth-grade math assessments at Mineola Middle School, out of 196 students tested in the 2008-2009 school year, 57.7 percent achieved Level III and 38.3 percent achieved Level IV while only 4.1 percent achieved Level II with no students falling into the Level range. At the eighth-grade level, 96 percent of the students met or exceeded state learning standards in mathematics.
Mineola School District Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler, who will become the superintendent on July 1, said the middle school really embraced Response To Intervention or RTI, a federal mandate that provides intervention for different tiers of academics. Students with special needs are classified in one of three different tiers and they receive attention on their learning skills. “The more they rolled this out and coordinated the effort, it really started to show in kids’ achievement,” said Dr. Nagler.
“I attribute it to the focus and effort on continuous improvement over these past several years in terms of teachers providing the kind of ongoing instruction that better prepares our kids for these kinds of assessments,” said Mineola Middle School Principal Mark Barth. “In math, certainly, the continuation of our programs even from elementary schools has been a big plus for us. With regard to ELA, we have made a concerted effort these past several years to improving upon reading and writing across the curriculum.”
Speaking of the elementary schools, the Jackson Avenue School also did extremely well on recent state assessments. At the third grade level in ELA, 69 percent of students achieved at Level III while 15.5 percent achieved at Level IV for 84.5 percent of third grade students meeting or exceeding state standards at the school.
In the third-grade math assessment, 55.3 percent of students achieved at Level III while 43.4 achieved at Level IV for 98.7 percent of third-grade students meeting or exceeding state standards.