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Focus school label removed from Howell middle school

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HOWELL – Howell Middle School North is no longer what the New Jersey Department of Education deems to be a focus school.

According to the department, a focus school has room for improvement in areas that are specific to the school. As part of the process of removing that designation, focus schools receive targeted and tailored solutions to meet their unique needs.

During a recent Howell K-8 School District Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Isola informed the board and members of the public that Howell Middle School North is no longer deemed to be a focus school.

Principal Paul Farley said, “The teachers here work hard every day and they do a tremendous job of helping all students to reach their full potential, so I am proud of the teachers and how hard they work every day to maximize student growth for all children.”

According to the department, a building can be labeled a focus school because of a low graduation rate, achievement gaps among students or low performance by a specific subgroup of pupils.

“Originally, Howell Memorial Middle School was the focus school and it was identified as a focus school because of a gap between the higher achieving students and some of the lower achieving subgroups,” Farley said.

When the school district was reconfigured several years ago, pupils who attended Howell Memorial Middle School were transferred to Howell Middle School North.

Once the Department of Education identifies a building as a focus school, it will assign a team of professionals from the Regional Achievement Center (RAC) to work closely with the school. Goals will be set, and activities and a timeline will be established to ensure progress is being made.

Farley said the middle school’s staff worked closely with the department and with the RAC team, who were supportive and visited the building on several occasions.

“Over the past two years since Howell Middle School North has been a focus school, we set goals for proficiency levels in language arts and math. We set goals for teaching, as far as high-level questioning in the classroom, and using data to strategically group students in the classroom,” Farley said. “We met all of our goals and now we have (left) the (focus school) program.”


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