Two Local Schools Under Review
By Heather Dalton
Two of Rockaway’s public schools were recently added to the State Education Department’s list of Schools Under Registration Review (SURR). PS 43, located on Beach 29 street in Far Rockaway, and JHS 198, located at Beach 56 street in Arverne, along with 17 other New York City schools, were put on the list due to poor results on standardized reading and math tests given last year.
According to the Education Department, schools considered candidates for registration review had fewer than 60 percent of their fourth and eighth grade students performing at or above the state designated performance level (Level 2). P.S. 43 had 43.8 percent of its fourth grade students performing at Level 2 for the English assessment exam and 58.4 percent for math. JHS 198 saw 50.3 percent of its eighth graders reaching Level 2 status for English while only 26.3 percent reached that level for math.
Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the State Education Department, explained that the SURR list is meant to bring about positive results. He claimed that the schools would now receive the "extra attention and extra resources" they need.
According to Mr. Dunn, PS 43 and JHS 198, along with the other 17 New York City schools that have been added to the list, are scheduled to receive a visit this month from a team of trained professionals from the Department of Education. The team will tour the schools to help develop improvement plans, assess new sources of funding and create professional development programs.
A former staff member from JHS 198 told The Wave that while the list may bring about minor changes in the schools, he felt the true source of the problem stems from the student body. He claimed that teachers’ hands are tied when it comes to dealing with disruptive students.
"The unruly kids make it nearly impossible for other students to work in a productive learning environment. Add to that a lack of parental involvement in the schools and it’s no wonder test scores aren’t up to par," he said.
The issue of basing the sole criteria for a school’s success on the results of one standardized test has always been up for debate, most notably with the recent cheating scandal.
The school system comes under attack yet again, this time for having more schools added to the SURR list than were taken off. Parents and teachers hope PS 43 and JHS 198 won’t get lost in the midst of all the finger pointing. They look at PS 215 as an example of a school turning itself around. The elementary school, also located in the Rockaways, appeared on last year’s SURR list but was removed this year. These parents and teachers know there is hope.