FULTON, NY – The Fulton City School District has been named a focus district for the 2016-2017 school year, with specific focus on G. Ray Bodley High School as a focus school, as well as two elementary schools in LAP status, Fairgrieve and Volney.
Each of these distinctions require the schools to follow state protocol and come up with appropriate plans to combat the problem areas in the effected subgroups.
Executive director of instruction and assessment, Elizabeth Conners updated the board of education on these plans at the first summer (July 12) board meeting.
“This doesn’t mean we’re bad,” said Conners. “It means we have some structures and systems that we need to come back to and tighten up to ensure all students in the Fulton City School District are learning.”
A focus district status requires the district to complete a District Comprehensive Education Plan (DCEP) but also provides additional funding and requires visits from NYS Education Department.
The additional funding, however, is very specific in how it can be used within the district, explained Conners.
The plan development team includes people, staff, and administration of all influences from within the district as well as experts from outside the district.
Each plan focuses on six tenets; the first being district leadership and capacity, the second being school leader practices and decisions, the third being curriculum development and support, the fourth being teacher practices an decisions, the fifth being students social and emotional developmental health, and the sixth being family and community involvement.
The plans will set goals for each tenet and establish a time line which illustrates how the goal will be implemented and maintained throughout the district.
In the focus district DCEP plan, to satisfy tenet one school officials intend to select a cabinet to review all initiatives and plans to ensure they are research based and that they are aligned with the district’s mission of student success.
For tenet two, the district site-based team intends to create a district vision statement based off the district’s mission statement to unify the district and increase student achievement.
The plan focuses largely on common assessment for tenet three. The goal intends to administer these to students on regular basis in alignment with common core learning standards and rigor and use these as data to identify trends and gaps in curriculum as well as prepare students for state testing.
Having already started this practice for tenet four, beginning in September with the new school year, administrators, department chairs, instructional coaches, and district directors will complete classroom walk-throughs to collect data using the district’s “look-for” document.
Conners said these groups have already been in over 400 classrooms and have identified trends in FCSD through this observation.
The plan in tenet five intends to focus on economically disadvantaged and trauma impacted students and will provide better means to address the needs of these students to better serve their education and be able to increase the attendance and behavior at school as well as administer student surveys to hear the voice and opinions of students.
“This will help make the seven hours we are teaching them daily be more meaningful,” said Conners.
Finally, the plan will clearly define the term “family engagement” in the FCSD to better establish expectations between the school and home to satisfy tenet six.
NYSED has already made a site visit to GRB High School as a focus school this spring and will make another visit in the fall, although school officials are not aware of which school they will visit.
However, because of the experience with the first visit in the spring, school officials are aware of how the visit will go including state recommendations that may call for less than a week of turn around time.
In the GRB state review, the NYSED made such recommendations as coordinating guided study halls to ensure students who need multiple interventions are accommodated, holding meetings weekly between department chairs and students in need of interventions, group students by skill for guided study hall, assigning one school leader as an instructional coach to work with staff, create a school video presentation for student responsibility for learning, lay out clear communication information for families, and even changing the physical layout of the classrooms for rows of desks to groups.
GRB Principal Donna Parkhurst said most of these recommendations needed to be implemented and in place in the school within a week of the April visit and were carried out for the remainder of the school 2015-2016 school year, but even with immediate implementation at an inopportune time with regents review in full swing, the recommendations proved to be effective, she said.
The high school’s School Comprehensive Education Plan overview as a focus school for the 2016-2017 school year builds off of these recommendations and adds other features for each tenet to ensure the high school mission is being carried out for all students.
“We wanted to use some of the things that worked and worked well, and then build upon that to develop smart goals so that we are able to monitor them,” said Parkhurst.
Finally, the LAP plans for the elementary schools designated in LAP status for the 2016-2017 school year were presented to the board.
Fairgrieve Elementary School remains in LAP status for the second year in a row and is joined by Volney Elementary School identifying as a LAP school for the first time.
LAP schools are determined by the NYS Education Department and require the school officials to work with the state to follow a sequence of events to finalize a LAP plan for each school.
Both Volney and Fairgrieve schools are held accountable for their white subgroups performance in grades 3-8 English Language Arts as failing to make adequate yearly performance for three years in a row, labeling them as Category 1 LAP schools.
Both schools developed a thorough LAP plan that followed the same six tenets and addressed areas of concerns for each.
Such remedies at Fairgrieve Elementary include creating a school improvement team to meet regularly for monitoring purposes, having the SIT reestablish a kid-friendly vision and mission, weekly assessments that align with NYS learning standards, walk-throughs of classrooms regularly over the course of the school year, implementation of a digital or physical goal-setting system, analyze and communicate school-wide attendance to all staff, and electronically record and distribute messages to home regarding curriculum and instruction, among others.
Similarly, such remedies at Volney Elementary include reestablishing a kid-friendly vision and mission, create more effective collaboration meetings including vertical team meetings in which grades K-6 staff are grouped by curricular area, use of developmentally appropriate learning targets, walk-throughs of classrooms regularly over the course of the school year, implement the use of student data binders and electronically record and distribute messages to the home regarding curriculum and instruction, among others.
“I applaud all the work that has gone into these plans, we seem to be on the right track,” said vice president of the board of education, Dan Pawlewicz.
Brian Pulvino has closely followed these plans as they have been developed before his position as superintendent began July 1, and told the board of education of his confidence in the plans as they build off of already established foundations.
“It builds on what was here. Too often when these plans are generated, we come from all brand new things and end up with a new plan every year,” said Superintendent Pulvino. “We have great foundational pieces, what these plans seem to do is pull those back together, we didn’t go off on another tangent.”
All plans, the DCIP, SCEP, and LAP plans were approved by the board of education by unanimous vote and will be submitted to the NYSED for review and feedback.