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Massena Central stacks up against similar state schools in math, ELA proficiency

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MASSENA - Compared against similar schools in the state, Massena Central has stacked up well when it comes to proficiency in math and English language arts.

In a presentation for the district’s board of education Thursday night, teacher Johnathan R. Hirschey and Curriculum Director Sarah Boyce showed how Massena students had fared on recent assessments and Regents exams, and also how they compared “apples to apples” with schools of similar sizes and needs.

Mr. Hirschey said those results showed that Massena, if not at the top of the list, was very close - in some cases only one student away from being at the top.

In third grade ELA, for instance, 63.2 percent of Massena’s students were considered proficient, while the Johnson City Central School District’s percentage was 63.5. Massena had a 62.8 percent proficiency on the fourth-grade ELA, better than 59.6 percent in the Batavia City School District. And, on the fifth grade ELA, 58.5 percent of Massena’s students were considered proficient, second to the Cortland City School District.

“We were second only to Cortland by seventh-tenths of a percent,” Mr. Hirschey said.

In sixth grade ELA, 57.3 percent of Massena’s students were considered proficient compared to 35.1 percent in the Gloversville City School District. Massena also had the top spot in seventh-grade ELA with 51.3 percent proficiency, compared to 42.1 for the Monticello Central School District.

The Carthage Central and Indian River Central school districts fared better than Massena on the eighth grade ELA exam. Carthage had 50.6 percent proficiency, Indian River had 50.4 and Massena had 50.

Performance by Massena students in math earned them top spots against similar-sized schools at every grade level except eight, where they were second to the Carthage Central School District, according to Mr. Hirschey.

Massena students also fared well on the fourth- and eighth-grade science exams, he said. The average score for fourth graders was 86 percent, and 95 percent met proficiency. The average score for eighth graders was 71 percent, and 71 percent met proficiency.

Compared to other districts in the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, as well as all schools throughout the state, Massena’s students outperformed others in third grade ELA, fourth grade ELA, fifth grade ELA and sixth grade ELA. In seventh grade ELA, 51 percent of Massena’s students were proficient, compared to 52 percent in the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES and 49 percent in the state. Massena was on part with other students in BOCES and the state on the eighth grade ELA, with all of them having 50 percent proficiency.

On the math side, Massena’s students fared better in third grade, fourth grade and eighth grade than their counterparts in the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES and state. Massena had 64 percent proficiency in fifth grade compared to 67 percent statewide and 58 percent in BOCES; 61 percent proficiency in sixth grade compared to 65 percent statewide and 61 percent in BOCES; and 59 percent proficiency in seventh grade compared to 65 percent statewide and 60 percent in BOCES.

Ms. Boyce, the director of curriculum, said the district has taken on a number of initiatives to get Massena students where they are and to keep improving on their performance.

They started a response to intervention effort for younger students over a three-year span, which allowed them to respond to individual students’ needs.

“We’re looking at where the student is and provide strategies,” she said.

They also implemented a new program called the “Scott-Foresman Reading Streets Core Reading Program,” which addresses the new common core standards.

The district also implemented a pre-kindergarten and junior kindergarten program, Ms. Boyce said, as well as “The Daily 5,” which gives students more time to read independently during the day.

Reading specialists were also placed in each elementary school, she said.

One area where Massena Central sits below the state expectation is in its graduation rate. Figuring in August graduates, 73 percent of the students graduated in 2011-12 while the state’s expectation is 80 percent. Not counting the August graduates, that number was 67 percent for Massena.

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