By Andrea Paldy
The recent Three Village school board meeting included a presentation of the district’s report card and the continued discussion of school start time, a topic initiated by a parent group.
Utilizing statistics from the 2019 state standardized tests, Regents exams and Ward Melville’s graduating class, Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, was able to give the board a detailed snapshot of the district.
Enrollment continued to decline in 2018-19, dropping from 6,131 in the previous year to 5,812. However, Scanlon said, with prekindergarten enrollment, numbers stabilized this fall.
Three Village students excelled on the Regents exams with pass rates between 91 and 95 percent on English and social studies exams, and with 67 to 84 percent of students receiving mastery level scores in the various humanities. Math results included a 92 percent pass rate for algebra, 95 percent pass rate for geometry and 99 percent pass rate for algebra 2. Between 46 and 50 percent of students received scores of mastery, Scanlon reported.
The district’s students led the state in scores for physics and chemistry with 94 and 96 percent pass rates, respectively, he said. Ninety-three percent of students passed the earth science exam and 94 percent passed the living environment Regents. Mastery scores ranged from 46 to 68 percent.
Of the 544 students in last spring’s graduating class, 311 were Advanced Placement scholars, the largest number in 20 years, the assistant superintendent said. Additionally, the senior class, which had 100 fewer students than the previous year, had a 97 percent graduation rate and 95 percent college acceptance rate for both four-year and two-year colleges.
The New York State assessments for students in grades 3 through 8 showed that the district’s opt-out rate dropped from 65 to 64 percent for the English Language Arts tests and from 67 to 65 percent for math.
Scanlon said that Three Village student rates of passing far exceeded those of Nassau, Suffolk and New York State for each grade in the subjects tested. District students outperformed students in nearby districts — Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Harborfields, Hauppauge, Northport, Port Jefferson and Smithtown— on the ELA and ranked first in all grades except for grades 3 and 4, where they ranked second.
The math scores followed a similar pattern in which district students ranked first in all grades, except for third grade, where they ranked second, and eighth grade, where they ranked fifth. Scanlon said the latter was because a majority of the district’s eighth-graders take the algebra Regents exam instead of the math assessment.
As a final metric, the district’s independent auditor, Thomas Smith of the EFPR Group, said that the school district is “way below the debt limit set by the state” and is “very financially healthy.”
It’s about time
With passage of a California law prohibiting public high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. and middle schools before 8 a.m., Three Village parents thanked the district’s administrators for taking time to consider their request but continued to lobby for similar change.
Joining the ranks of speakers on behalf of later school start times were Dr. Philip Schrank, a Three Village district physician and chief medical officer for concussion management, and David McKinnon, a professor of neurobiology at Stony Brook University. Both gave biological reasons for the need for change.
“Eight years ago, I stood in front of this tremendous board, and you guys had the courage and the vision to be the first district in Suffolk County to implement a concussion management program,” Schrank said. “You made our kids safer and healthier. I would ask you to have the same courage and vision to be leaders on this issue, which dramatically affects all of the kids in this district.”
Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, who met with the leaders of Its About Time: Three Village Parents for a Later School Start Time to discuss the issue, said the district is exploring the impacts and costs of a time shift. The findings will be presented to the board in December.
Dignity for All Students Act
Triggered by an incident at Arrowhead Elementary School, three parents attended last week’s meeting to discuss the Dignity for All Students Act, also known as DASA, particularly pertaining to early grades.
Heather Cohen, Shari Glazer and Cindy Morris asked that elementary school principals and teachers have age-appropriate resources for students and their families. They also want a protocol for DASA forms for students or parents to complete to allow “hate crimes” to be tracked and monitored over time. The parents also requested that when an incident occurred at school that all parents be notified.
During an interview, Pedisich said there’s “a definite protocol for DASA” and the handling of complaints. Additionally, she said, each school has DASA coordinators — the principal and a social worker — and district procedures are outlined on its website.
The superintendent said that though the specific case had been closed at the school level, it had now been reopened at the district level because of additional concerns brought to the administration.