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‘Focus district’ status addressed by LP school

November 30, 2012

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Central School District has taken a step to make up for low special-education test scores the year before last.

At a special meeting Tuesday evening, the district's Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a District Comprehensive Improvement Plan. The DCIP is one of several steps the district was required to take after the state Education Department labeled it a "focus district" due to low performance on English language arts and math assessments by a group of special-education students in grades 3 through 8 in the 2010-11 school year.

Lake Placid Elementary School Principal Javier Perez said that out of the group of 44 students, 38 didn't achieve proficient test results.

At a presentation before the plan was approved, district Superintendent Randy Richards said he prefers to look at the situation as an opportunity, not a problem.

"The only thing that I've ever really felt that was missing in Lake Placid is that we just need to point in the same direction," Richards said.

Richards explained that Lake Placid was identified as a focus district primarily because of changes to the state's accountability system.

"When they did that, they went back and used old data and they set new cut points," he said. "When they did that ... we popped up in a subcategory. It could have been economic; it could have been race or ethnicity - we popped up in special ed. We had a pocket of students ... who didn't score well enough in ELA and math in New York state assessments. In fact, we were in the bottom 5 percent of all schools in New York state."

The DCIP was developed by a team of elementary and middle-high school faculty members, including Perez, elementary school psychologist Mel Frazer, reading specialist Laura Coffin, learning specialist Kathy Hannon, fifth- grade teacher Roseanne Hickey, interim middle school Principal Rick Retrosi, school counselor Lynn Gosling, math teacher Robyn Poulsen and learning specialist Margie Gallagher. The team had help from Dana Rutherford, a special education specialist from the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Jane Landry, an instructional improvement specialist from Champlain Valley Educational Services, and Mary Jones, who assisted with data analysis.

Richards said the plan includes six "broad tenets that high-achieving school districts should have a really good grasp on.

"This is not a silver bullet, it's unlikely that we can grab all six tenets and get to perfection on them within a year," he said. "This is a process-driven, long-term commitment."

The six tenets are:

District leadership

School leadership practices and decisions

Curriculum development and support

Teacher practices and decisions

Student social and emotional development

Family and community engagement

Perez said that for the three tenets that focus on decision-making, the state wants to see administrators and faculty members use more data.

Implementation of the DCIP requires training, and the district will be reimbursed by the state over a three-year period for any costs associated with that training, Richards said.

State education officials will review the district's progress in May. English teacher Amy Spicer noted that new test scores won't be out by then, and she asked how the state will review the district without them.

Coffin said the review will include a two-day visit from state officials.

"They're going to interview Dr. Richards; they're going to interview the building principals; they're going to go to classes, six or seven, and sit and watch us teach," she said. "They're going to interview a large group of students, they're going to interview a small group of students, they're going to interview a group of parents, and then they'll go from there."

Coffin added that teachers, parents and students will fill out surveys that will be reviewed by the state officials.

Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or cmorris@



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