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October 31, 2017
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



Vast Majority of Schools in Receivership Made Demonstrable Improvement in 2016-17

Two Schools to be Placed Under Independent Receivership 

More than 95 percent of schools in receivership made demonstrable improvement in the 2016-17 school year, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. A total of 61 of 63 schools in receivership showed progress on performance indicators jointly selected by the State Education Department and the districts in which the schools are located. Two schools, Build Academy in the Buffalo City School District and School 41-Kodak Park in the Rochester City School District, did not make Demonstrable Improvement and will now be placed under an Independent Receiver. 

“Most of New York's struggling and persistently struggling schools are making progress to improve teaching and learning for our children,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “While this is a testament to the continuing efforts of district and school leaders, teachers, school staff and other stakeholders to implement strategies that lead to increased student success, there is still a great deal of work to do to help these schools improve to best serve their students.”

“I have visited many of these schools, and I am seeing schools tackle their issues in new and positive ways, which is encouraging,” Commissioner Elia said. “At the same time, much work remains to be done in many of these schools to provide an even greater focus with more intensive interventions to ensure that progress in these schools accelerates and they improve their outcomes for students.”

In the 2016-17 school year, a total of 72 schools were in receivership, with 10 designated as Persistently Struggling and 62 designated as Struggling schools. Eight schools in receivership either closed at the end of the 2016-17 school year or are in the process of phasing out. These schools did not have a 2016-17 school year Demonstrable Improvement decision made for them.  In addition, Hempstead High School’s data is still under review by the district and NYSED therefore, a Demonstrable Improvement determination has not yet been made for the school. As of now, 68 schools remain in receivership with 9 designated as Persistently Struggling and 59 designated as Struggling schools.

In accordance with Education Law section 211-f and Commissioner’s Regulations §100.19, Commissioner Elia based the Demonstrable Improvement decisions primarily upon the degree to which schools achieved their progress targets. Each school’s Demonstrable Improvement Plan includes a minimum of ten indicators, which were submitted by the superintendent receiver and approved by the Commissioner, or selected by the State Education Department for the school.  In accordance with the law, indicators could include: student achievement and growth on state measures; reduction in achievement gaps among specific groups of students; graduation rates; student attendance; suspension rates; student safety; and parent and family engagement.

Earlier this month, Commissioner Elia informed superintendent receivers, school principals and other local stakeholders of each school’s preliminary Demonstrable Improvement determination and allowed them the opportunity to comment on the preliminary determination.

As a result of this process, the Commissioner determined that 61 schools had made Demonstrable Improvement.  A total of 44 schools achieved a Demonstrable Improvement Index of at least 67 percent. A total of 16 schools earned a Demonstrable Improvement Index of at least 40 percent and showed overall evidence of progress.  The Commissioner designated one school, East Upper High School in Rochester, with a Demonstrable Improvement Index below 40 percent as making Demonstrable Improvement because of special circumstances related to the school’s partnership with the University of Rochester.  

For those schools that were designated as making Demonstrable Improvement but which did not achieve a Demonstrable Improvement Index of at least 67 percent, the Commissioner directed districts with these schools to immediately review the performance of these schools, identify the reasons these schools did not achieve at least two-thirds of their measures and take additional steps to intensively monitor and support these schools during the 2017-18 school year.  The Commissioner informed these districts that if these schools do not improve their performance on the Demonstrable Improvement Index in the 2017-18 school year, the schools will likely be designated as not making Demonstrable Improvement for that year.   

After reviewing information provided through the consultation and collaboration process by superintendent receivers, school principals, local collective bargaining unit leaders representing teachers, the chairperson of the Community Engagement Team and reports of Department staff school visitations, the Commissioner also determined that two schools that failed to achieve a Demonstrable Improvement Index of at least 40 percent, BUILD Academy in Buffalo and School 41-Kodak Park in Rochester, did not make Demonstrable Improvement. 

Schools placed into Receivership have been identified by the Commissioner as either Struggling or Persistently Struggling Schools. The Commissioner first identified Persistently Struggling Schools in July 2015. As defined by law and regulation, Persistently Struggling Schools were schools that had been identified as Priority status for the previous three years and were among the state’s lowest performing schools for the previous ten years.  In July 2015, the Commissioner also identified Struggling Schools, which are schools that were in Priority status during the 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. Persistently Struggling and Struggling schools are also known as Receivership Schools.

Beginning in July 2015, the Commissioner placed Persistently Struggling and Struggling Schools under the authority of superintendent receivers. The superintendents were provided with enhanced powers and responsibilities of a school receiver to support dramatic changes to increase student achievement. 

In Persistently Struggling Schools, the superintendent receivers were initially given one year to make Demonstrable Improvement in student performance. For the 2015-16 school year, the Commissioner determined that all but one Persistently Struggling School (JHS 162 Lola Rodriguez De Tio in New York City, which closed in June 2017) made Demonstrable Improvement.  Schools that made Demonstrable Improvement in the 2015-16 school year continued to be administered by superintendent receivers in the 2016-17 school year.  The 2016-17 school year results are the first for which the Commissioner is required to make Demonstrable Improvement determinations for Struggling Schools.

The eight Persistently Struggling and 53 Struggling Schools that have made Demonstrable Improvement in 2016-17, and the one Persistently Struggling school under review will continue to operate under the authority of their superintendent receivers and will continue to implement their approved turnaround plans. Based on 2017-18 school year results, Commissioner Elia will again make a determination as to whether Receivership Schools have made Demonstrable Improvement.

For the two Struggling Schools that did not make Demonstrable Improvement, the school district has 60 days to appoint an independent receiver and have that appointment approved by Commissioner Elia, or the Commissioner will appoint the independent receiver if that timeline is not met by the district.  Once an independent receiver is appointed and enters into a contract with the Commissioner, the independent receiver will assume full managerial and operational authority for the school consistent with Education Law to develop and implement a school intervention plan.  A district may seek permission to close and phase out a Persistently Struggling or Struggling School that has failed to make Demonstrable Improvement. The district could also seek permission from the Board of Regents to replace the closed school with a newly registered school, upon the recommendation of the Commissioner that the new school has been reconstituted as a new and different educational program for students as reflected in significant changes in such area as staffing, instructional practices and school environment.

Later this year, the Commissioner will announce which schools among those making Demonstrable Improvement have met the criteria in regulations for removal from Priority School status.  Schools that are removed from Priority School status will be exited from Receivership at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

A list of Receivership Schools, Demonstrable Improvement Indices, and the Commissioner’s Demonstrable Improvement determinations for each school are available on NYSED’s website.

More information on the receivership process and Demonstrable Improvement Indicators are available on NYSED’s website.

To view how a school performed on each of the Demonstrable Improvement indicators, please go to that school’s information on the Department’s Public Data website.