South Amboy Middle High School designated ‘in need of improvement’


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SOUTH AMBOY – The New Jersey Department of Education designated South Amboy Middle High School a comprehensive school in need of improvement.

According to Superintendent of Schools Jorge Diaz, the designation is based on the new accountability indicators used by the DOE, which focuses on school performance during the 2016-17 school year for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing, student growth percentiles and chronic absenteeism.

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According to district officials, the designation will require the school to undergo intensive coaching support by the Comprehensive Support & Improvement Team, a team of state-appointed educational specialists.

“While the Middle High School’s PARCC scores, SGP and chronic absenteeism have not met the targets for a number of years, this is the first time the state has assigned weights to each of these indicators to determine the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools,” he said.

A Title I school is a school that is eligible for financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards, officials said.

Federal funds are currently allocated through four statutory formulas that are based primarily on census poverty estimates and the cost of education in each state.

“Even before we received notice of the designation, we had already taken steps to address various aspects that have affected the low scores,” Diaz said. “In the last year, the master schedule has been revamped at the middle school to double the instructional time in mathematics from 43 minutes per day to 86 minutes per day.”

Diaz said the district has implemented a new online benchmarking system to assess and monitor student progress in meeting the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

“Students are assessed throughout the school year to gauge their progress on meeting grade-level standards,” Diaz said. “This data is invaluable as teachers meet to discuss student progress, pinpoint student deficiencies and utilize the data to drive their instruction. A stronger emphasis on student attendance has also been implemented at all levels, which includes both educational and legal measures to drive the importance of student attendance to all parents¬† We have also revamped our professional development opportunities to ensure our teachers get the necessary learning experiences to keep up with the best practices in education.

“We have been open and transparent regarding the current designation of the Middle High School with our school community,” Diaz continued. “I have done presentations for the faculty at the Middle High School, the Board of Education meeting and at the City Council meeting. All information has been posted on our district website. The website also includes two videos featuring the school principal explaining the designation, as well as a question-and-answer moderated by the Parent Teacher Organization president.”

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