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More on how Buffalo fared on state standarized tests

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Here's more information and reaction regarding the state standardized test results for Buffalo Public Schools:

As noted in today's story, performance in Buffalo once again lagged behind the area’s suburban school systems, but the district fell in the middle of the pack among New York’s largest urban districts.

Genelle Morris, the district’s assistant superintendent over accountability, said just five schools posted an increase of at least five percentage points in reading, and a few of those were early childhood centers that only test third- and fourth- grade students.

The early childhood centers were also among the 11 schools that saw a comparable increase in math.

Among particular subgroups of students, the district fared particularly poorly among students who are learning English. Just 15 of about 2,000 of those students met the state reading standards.

“You get goose bumps thinking about what’s going on that our students aren’t meeting this standard,” Morris said.

One school that saw improvements in both areas was the Stanley M. Makowski Early Childhood Center, which put more focus on making sure teachers understood the new standards and how to best introduce them to students.

The school also came up with its own internal assessment system that it used to pinpoint its students’ strengths and weaknesses, and where they needed help mastering the standards.

Olmsted School 156 saw some of the most significant improvement in math, with a 15 percentage point increase in students deemed proficient.

Interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie has vowed to make the implementation of the Common Core standards a greater priority in the Buffalo schools. That will likely involve professional development for teachers, as well as additional training and support for using the data to drive what happens in the classroom.

“I don’t think anybody in the district is ready to declare victory, even though there is progress,” Ogilvie said. “I think everybody’s aware there is still work to be done.”

To do that, Ogilvie points to work already being done in the schools that saw more substantial improvements.

“From a districtwide leadership perspective, you want to show in some of the buildings this is possible and use that as a rallying cry for the rest,” he said.

 

About the reporters

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News' NeXt section.

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.