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Potsdam High School students fare well on Regents examinations

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POTSDAM - Although Potsdam High School Principal Joanne Chambers says Potsdam students have done well on Regents exams compared to their contemporaries, they’re not resting on their laurels.

She told board of education members Tuesday night that Potsdam is ranked as one of the top schools in the north country for the percentage of students graduating with a Regents diploma with advanced designation.

They were also identified as a “Reward School” by the state Education Department, she said, based on student performance in math and English language arts scores and graduation rates that were above the stage averages.

Ms. Chambers pointed out some of the success they’ve seen on Regents exams. For instance, she said, 93 students took the integrated Algebra exam and they had a 92 percent pass rate, while 80 students took the geometry Regents and they had a 96 percent pass rate.

The Algebra II/Trigonometry Regents exam was taken by 64 students, according to Ms. Chambers, with an 88 percent passing rate.

“While 88 percent is great for the region, it’s not where we’d like it to be,” she said.

To better prepare students for that exam, she said, they’ve opted to spread the course curriculum out over two years. They have 15 to 17 students that are taking part in the two-year curriculum, she told board members.

Students also fared well on other Regents exams, the principal said, including 97 percent out of 119 students passing the comprehensive English test. Those numbers were a combination of students who took the test in January and June.

In physics, 100 percent of the 34 students who took the exam passed it, Ms. Chambers said.

For those students who didn’t pass their Regents examinations, she said their best bet is to attend summer school to brush up on the material and then take the test again in August.

“When a student fails, summer school is the best chance of passing the exam. Just trying it on their own is usually not successful,” she said.

For other students, academic intervention services could be the ticket to passing the Regents exams, Ms. Chambers said.

AIS is offered to students if they’re not successful on the eighth grade assessment, if they fail a Regents examination or if they’re in danger of failing a Regents. Those who enter AIS at the beginning of the school year can take the Regents exam again in January.

“They are almost always successful,” she said.

However, Ms. Chambers pointed out, staff cuts mean there are fewer teachers available to provide academic intervention services.

That’s not the only option available to students though. The school also offers a student learning center as well as guided study halls, and tutoring from college students and members of the National Honor Society is also available.

Looking ahead does bring up some questions, Ms. Chambers said. Among them are will larger class sizes negatively impact students performance on Regents examinations and will larger AIS classes also negatively impact Regents results.

She also wondered whether the new annual professional performance plan, the principal and teacher evaluation system that went into effect this year, would have an impact on Regents results.

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