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Fairport-E.Rochester Post
  • Making the grade: East Rochester schools see graduation rate increase

  • The latest data from the state shows that more students are crossing the stage at East Rochester High School.



    According to the annual school district report cards released by New York State Department of Education in April, the rate of students in the class of 2010 who graduated rose eight percentage points from the previous class — from 71-79.

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  • The latest data from the state shows that more students are crossing the stage at East Rochester High School.
    According to the annual school district report cards released by New York State Department of Education in April, the rate of students in the class of 2010 who graduated rose eight percentage points from the previous class — from 71-79.
    Although rate is higher among students who attendattend the junior-senior high school (85 percent, up from 78), the district holds itself accountable to the overall rate that includes a small percentage of students taught at BOCES and other off-campus buildings within the district.
    NYSED lists East Rochester as a district in good academic standing, but school administrators say there’s always room for improvement when it comes to raising the graduation rate.
    “Our goal is to get above 80 (percent) and stay there,” said Jill Slavny, who has been the junior-senior high school principal for five years.
    To accomplish this goal, the district has tried a few new measures at the secondary level.
    Extra effort
    Some of these measures include more co-teaching, which places a special education teacher in the classroom along with the regular teacher to work with special needs students separately in the same room.
    The school has also made parallel assessment a required part of curriculum, which often means a teacher will administer old regents exams or standardized tests to help students prepare for upcoming tests.
    Although the district offers 12 advanced placement (AP) courses, junior high students are encouraged to accelerated and enriched courses.
    But for some, poor attendance can cause them to fall behind academically, often making it impossible to recover in time for graduation.
    “We're always reviewing the data, and there are some red flags out there for kids who might be at risk,” said Slavny.
    This year alone, the number of home visits from school psychologists and social workers has skyrocketed.
    The school currently offers several opportunities for students to get help when they fall behind on credits. Examples of this include study sessions after school and during school breaks, and an online credit recovery program offered year-round.
    But when it comes to getting students back on track for graduation, administrators say the real support starts at home. When parents don’t pick up the phone or meet in person to talk about their child’s academic needs, it’s difficult to intervene.
    “That's probably one of the biggest challenges in public education is that the families and students you most need to connect with are the ones that are most resistant,” said Slavny.
    Superintendent Ray Giamartino said that although teachers and school counselors work with struggling students during the week, this isn’t always enough.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The reality is we can't do it alone,” said Giamartino. “We really need parents and families to continue to partner with us so we can ensure that all of our students are graduate and are post-secondary ready.”
    Success story
    Dominique Newton was one such student who found herself in an academic hole at the end of her junior year. She quickly fell behind  and ended up in summer school.
    Her mother, Kay, said it was time for an intervention. Today, she urges other parents to do the same with their children.  
    “If you act like it doesn’t matter, you’re gambling on whether they’re going to hang themselves, and I refuse to do that,” said Kay.
    It was then that Dominique decided to buckle down. Through support from adults at home and school, she will finally graduate.
    When she walks across the stage in June, Dominique will be the first of her six siblings to finish high school. In the fall, she plans to go to college to study nursing in pursuit of an RN degree.
    Her family couldn’t be more proud, explained mom.
    “It was slow progress, but she did turn it around.”
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