Contreras talks test scores, 100-day plan and immediate changes for Syracuse district

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Contreras

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Contreras Photo by Herm Card.

— The 2011 English Language Arts and mathematics proficiency results for grades three to eight were released last week, and it was downright bad news for Syracuse schools: results in both categories declined from already dismal numbers in the previous year.

In 2011, only 25.4 percent of students in grades 3 to 8 met or exceeded the proficiency standard in math. In ELA, 22.5 percent of students were proficient.

Students who meet or exceed proficiency standards in eighth grade are considered on track for passing high school regents exams.

Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras, who has only officially been on the job since July 1, called the results “a call to action.”

“Obviously, when I received the test scores I was extremely disappointed, on several levels,” Contreras said last week. “Most importantly, I was disappointed for the children, because 75 percent of our children not being proficient is unacceptable and points to those students not being prepared for life after high school.”

Contreras announced the district would embark on a 100-day plan to solicit feedback from parents, staff, political leaders, and community and business leaders.

“I think it’s important that our high schools begin to offer more career training for students, and we need our businesses to help with development of those programs by providing internships, providing training for teachers, and providing information for the students to know what to do to be successful,” Contreras said.

The plan would be followed by a second phase, what the district is calling a “strategic planning process,” beginning in January. The planning process would involve determining a set number of goals and priorities for the district, and developing action plans to realize those goals, Contreras said.

Her approach emphasizes heavy community involvement, something the most supportive members of the community have been advocating for years.

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