EPS visits Jefferson Elementary School in New York

This blog entry is the eighth in a series from the team visiting schools in the States and comes to you from the ‘Big Apple.’
Today we visited Jefferson Elementary School (K-5), located in upstate New York in a town called New Rochelle.
IMG_6119We were greeted by the New Rochelle School District Security officer who ensured we followed correct protocol.
We met with the school’s math facilitator & a Year 5 teacher. Together they outlined the district-wide Data Wise strategy & how they had enacted this within their own context.
Our key takeaways included:
– Jefferson is one of the lowest performing schools within the district. This was due in part to the demography; 75% were Hispanic & were entitled to the ‘Free Lunch’ program.
– Of these students, 50% were English Language Learners, with a considerable number titled ’emergent bi-lingual learners'( which saw these students learning English & their ‘Mother language’ simultaneously.
– students started formal schooling with little or no kindergarten experiences.
– We noted that New York State-wide testing program simply involved a 6 day test (3 for math & 3 for English Language Arts) once each year, which was markedly different to the testing schedule for elementary schools within the Boston School District.
– We noted a sense of frustration that following the 6 days of assessment, explicit instruction continued to be disrupted due to teachers being released to mark these assessments; this totalled to a loss of 12 days of instructions.
– The Assistant Principal spoke candidly of the ramifications from the district office if a school under performed in the state test. Such intervention would include a visit from the Superintendent who would require a rigorous action plan with goals for improvement to be evident within an academic year.
– Jefferson teachers noted that in the past, state-wide tests were used to assess the effectiveness of curriculum programs. This has changed in recent years to a focus on evaluating teacher performance.
IMG_6114Finally, our most significant challenge today was navigating New York’s Subway system. New Rochelle is a distance from the city, so negotiating regional trains was an interesting lesson in reading timetables, locating ticket machines & determine direction. This made us see the importance of teaching our students these integral life skills.
IMG_7579Did you know? That Grand Central Terminal has 44 platforms, 67 tracks & 750,000 visitors pass through this iconic station each day.


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2 Responses to EPS visits Jefferson Elementary School in New York

  1. mwalker says:

    Penny with all due respect direction is also a challenge for many. Ha! No seriously use of assessment data to determine compliance and overall school and teacher performance is like constant weighing of the ‘pig’ with little input data to use to inform teaching and learning. Yuk!

Interested in your thoughts