State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia today identified 84 school districts as Focus Districts that must develop comprehensive plans to support improvement efforts in identified Focus and Priority Schools. Among the 84 districts, 428 schools were identified as Focus Schools and 14 charter schools were identified as Focus Charter Schools. An additional 188 schools were identified as Priority Schools as a result of being among the lowest performing schools in the state and failing to demonstrate progress in ELA or math, combined, or because of their persistently low graduation rates; four charter schools were identified as Priority Charter Schools.

At the same time, 27 districts and 197 schools that were formerly identified as Focus have now been identified as being in Good Standing. In addition, 49 Priority Schools have been moved from Priority to Focus School designation, and 30 Priority Schools have been removed from Priority School status and have not been identified as Focus Schools. Among those districts now in Good Standing is the Roosevelt School District on Long Island.

“We are encouraged by the large number of schools and districts whose hard work these past several years has resulted in improvements in their accountability status,” said Commissioner Elia. “We are particularly pleased by the turnaround that has taken place in some of state’s schools that have been struggling for many years. But there remain far too many schools where far too many students are not achieving state standards. We’re committed to working with these districts to improve the outcomes in their schools.”

The action taken by the Commissioner today is in accordance with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver that New York received from the United States Department of Education (USDE) in June 2015. New York State is required by its ESEA Waiver to identify new Priority Schools, Focus Districts and Focus Schools no later than March 1, 2016. The waiver remains in effect until the new accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) take effect in the 2017-18 school year.

The 84 Focus Districts were identified because of their low performance and lack of progress in ELA and math, combined, or graduation rates for one of more accountability groups (racial/ethnic groups, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities). Additionally, all districts with a Priority School were identified as Focus Districts.

Schools in Focus Districts and charter schools that are among the lowest performing in the state for an accountability subgroup and that are not improving were identified as Focus Schools. There are 428 Focus Schools and 14 Focus Charter Schools.

Schools with a 2014-15 performance that places them among the lowest performing in the state for combined English language arts and mathematics performance index or graduation rates and that are not improving were identified as Priority Schools. This year, there are 188 Priority Schools including four Priority Charter Schools.

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