You may have read in Newsday that Long Beach Middle School is among 30 schools on Long Island newly identified by the State as in need of “Targeted Support and Improvement.” (and the District is also designated automatically because of the Middle School status.) This designation was based on the performance of fewer than 26 students out of the 800 students in our middle school. Yes, you read that correctly; the entire school’s designation is based on the performance of a very small subset of students.
How does this happen? The State’s new accountability determinations rely solely on the performance of the controversial NYS 3-8 tests in ELA and math, and use a complicated formula that evaluates not only our total performance, but also the performance of a wide variety of subgroup categories, including English language learners, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and each specific ethnic and racial group.
The problem, though, is that the State did not take into account the high percentage of opt-outs on Long Island. Although they said they wouldn’t penalize us for opt-outs, that, in fact, is exactly what happened. Our subgroup category included only 26 students because more than 70% of those families made a conscious decision to opt-out of the State exams. But, our accountability status was based on this small sample size of students anyway. It doesn’t take a master statistician to see the flawed methodology here.
What does this mean for us? Well, we are now required to go through a series of exercises to develop a plan to address the performance of this subgroup of 26 students. We will try to make it worthwhile, and use the plan to improve teaching and learning for ALL of our students, something that we strive to do all the time, with or without NYS accountability measures. I am proud of the great work happening at our Middle School, and you should be, too!