In the Niagara Falls City School District, our vision is Learning For All … Whatever It Takes. It is our guiding principle and we, as teachers, administrators, and support staff are committed to it.
A recent article summarizing our Chief Information Officer's report to the Board of Education on student achievement presented a distorted view of that achievement. The District is, in fact, designated "In Good Academic Standing" by the State Education Department. We have no failing schools.
Here is a simple clarification that may resolve any misconceptions.
For State reporting purposes, students are categorized into "cells." These include English Language Learners, African American students, students with special needs, and so on. A student who happens to belong to more than one cell is counted in every cell that applies to him or her—for example, a Special Education student who is also an English Language Learner would impact the results of both cells.
Failure of any cell to reach a certain level of proficiency requires the school of attendance to develop a Local Assistance Plan (LAP)—a useful tool to help redirect efforts to address the cell in question. This data is not reflected in a student's permanent record.
Some cells may contain only a handful of students. For example, School A may have 500 students, 12 of whom belong to a specific cell. If 5 of the students in that cell do not achieve the desired proficiency rate, the school must have a LAP plan. The existence of such a plan should not be interpreted as indicating that a school is failing; indeed, in this case, 495 students may be achieving very well. But the school must still create a LAP plan. The LAP plan should be seen for what it is: a tool to continue to improve achievement for ALL.
During the season of thanksgiving, and as we continue to work daily to realize our vision, we are grateful for the District teachers, administrators, the Board of Education, and especially our children and parents whose joined efforts will result in ALL students achieving, succeeding, and embodying Learning For All … Whatever It Takes.