District Officials Share One Year Progress Update on Focus District Designation

FULTON, NY – Fulton City School District officials have presented the summary of a one year progress report after being labeled a focus district by the NYS Education Department last year.

A focus district is identified by low performance or lack of improvement in ELA and math assessments for elementary and middle school level (grades 3-8) as well as high school level, or graduation rates for one or more identified subgroup of students.

For FCSD specifically, the district attained focus status based on the elementary and middle school ELA and Math combined performance index for the Hispanic subgroup of students.

Additionally, G. Ray Bodley High School was labeled a focus school based on the ELA and math combined performance index for the economically disadvantaged subgroup of students.

There are 156 Hispanic students in all buildings throughout the district, a subgroup of self-identified students.

Of the 156 Hispanic students, 90% are in poverty and only 15% are English as New Language students.

“When we talk about accountability, we’re only as good as our lowest subgroup,” said Dan Carroll, Director of Instructional Support Services. “We’ve had a lot of really good news over the last year in terms of data and student achievement; graduation rate increases, goals being met in relation to increases with our students ELA and math performance. When we’re talking about accountability though, we’re talking about those very focused looks into specific groups of students.”

After one year of focus status, the district was provided a progress report centered around two criteria: did identified subgroups meet any progress filters and did non-identified subgroups meet progress filters or exceed cut points that are established to designate a school as focus status?

“That second question really gives you an indication of, are you in any danger of being identified newly for any additional subgroups? The good news is, we’re not,” Carroll explained.

All subgroups including students with disabilities, white, and economically disadvantaged, all met progress filters or performed above cut points throughout the three categories of focus possibilities: elementary and middle school ELA and math performance, high school ELA and math performance, and graduation rates.

However, the Hispanic subgroup for ELA and math performance index at the elementary and middle school level did not meet any progress filters.

“We can see from the state data that our identified economically disadvantaged subgroup got the green light, yes, met progress marks performance wise at the high school which is very good. Unfortunately, the identified Hispanic subgroup did not,” Carroll explained.

For the one year focus status summary, the district made progress on the identified high school performance index subgroup, and the district is above the cut point for graduation rates.

However, the district missed the participation rate for all subgroups in ELA and math for both elementary and middle school level as well as the high school level which fails the district in making overall focus progress for one year.

At G. Ray Bodley High School, in the economically disadvantaged identified subgroup, the participation rate cut point was missed by one student, halting the necessary criteria to show adequate focus progress for one year at the high school.

“That’s why we say participation is so important,” said executive director of instruction and assessment Betsy Conners, explaining that if the school had made the participation rate cut point, G. Ray Bodley would have shown all the necessary criteria for focus progress for one year, although the district still would not have.

Focus districts and school designations are two year terms with two consecutive years of progress enabling the focus designation to be removed under former accountability rules.

However, new accountability rules and regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act have not yet been determined, leaving district officials unsure of how the focus status will play out in the future.