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Greenwich Schools Chief Promises Improvements

GREENWICH, Conn. – After the district and some schools failed to meet federal standards of No Child Left Behind, Interim Superintendent Roger Lulow said he believes improvements can be made to put the district in the safe zone and avoid major consequences.

“We know we have classrooms in the school district where we can look to find examples where these problems have been resolved, and we need to use the resources we have within the school system to identify solutions,” Lulow said at the Board of Education meeting Thursday night. “What we need to do is get a better analysis of the causes of those problems and, I think, allow as much freedom in classrooms and buildings to correct those problems.”

The district recently was cited for failing to make adequate yearly progress, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, aimed to close the achievement gap between groups of students. Based on Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Test scores, the district as a whole and six schools did not make adequate yearly progress on math and reading sections of the tests.

Hamilton Avenue School was the only elementary school in the district that failed as a whole based on its test scores. Julian Curtiss School, Central Middle School, New Lebanon School, Central Middle School, Western Middle School and Greenwich High School were cited for failing to meet certain standards.

The consequences of failure to reach adequate yearly progress again next year would affect the district’s Title I schools – including Hamilton Avenue, Julian Curtiss and New Lebanon – more than the other schools. Students in any one of the Title I schools that didn’t meet the mark would be allowed to move to another building. Lulow said that could be avoided.

“I felt it was important not to scare people, but to make sure the community is aware of what the consequences are and that we mobilize all our possible resources to make sure this doesn’t happen,” said Lulow. He added that he believes the district could get each of the schools into “safe harbor” next year. Under No Child Left Behind standards, “safe harbor,” indicates a school has not yet made adequate yearly progress but has made significant change from one year to the next.

“Safe Harbor is not good enough for me. I don’t think it’s good enough for you. And I'm certain it’s not good enough for the teachers and administrators working hard to educate our kids everyday,” said board member Peter Sherr, adding the district needs to solve the issues “before the state tells us what to do.”

Lulow responded, “It would be almost charlatan-like of me to say we could turn around this district … and have everyone at the proficient level next year. … I’m trying to make sure we walk that line of moving forward and getting better.”

Lulow said a major focus this year will be on addressing six major issues: the transition from grades 5 to 6; student achievement at the primary level; science scores; writing scores in grades 3 through 8; gaps in student achievement; and students who are new to the district.

To reach Anna Helhoski, email ahelhoski@thedailygreenwich.com and f ollow TheDailyGreenwich.com on Facebook and Twitter !

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