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DeWitt: Report stresses concern for students with disabilities

The theme at Monday night's school board meeting was progress as board members poured over statistics from past school years, and reflected on the approval of last Wednesday's school budget vote.

All schools in the district are in good standing according to New York State requirements. English test scores exceeded or were equal to similar districts in the upstate area, and were well above New York State averages at both elementary and high school levels. Although the districts graduation rate fell 5 percent between the 2001 and 2002 school years, their 89 percent graduation rate still exceeds the New York State average of 58 percent. One cause for alarm in Joy Jones' detailed presentation was the graduation rate of students with disabilities in the district, which dropped from 92percent 1998 to 50 percent in 2002. School board President Dennis Resetarits expressed his concerns over special needs students not meeting educational standards. Test scores also dropped in the students with disabilities category. In English, only 33 percent met academic standards in 2002, down from 90 percent one year earlier, and in math 56 percent met standards, down from 88% in 2001.

"We're always going to have a gap between students with disabilities and students in general studies," school board member Samuel Young said, "but we need to focus on narrowing that gap."

Resetarits added that the statistics could also be misconstrued due to the overlapping of students in different categories, and the fact that there are very few students with disabilities in the district.

Jones mentioned several programs that were added or expanded to address the issue including an enhanced elementary summer program that will now include kindergarten through third grade, a corrective reading program for grades five through eight, and a handful of additional programs for grades one through four.

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