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Students lagging several levels behind, test scores show

Students at Sojourner Truth Academy high school, which earned an F- on recently released school report cards, are performing as many as six grades below their actual level, according to data provided to its governing board Tuesday.

Sarah Stern, the school’s director of data and assessments, explained that the school tests students three times a year to measure their progress, with the first given at the start of the school year. The average results from that test were:

*Math*

Grade Level Performing at this grade level
9th 6th
10th 5th
11th 6th-7th

 

*Reading*

Grade Level Performing at this grade level
9th 5th-6th
10th 4th-5th
11th 6th-7th

Stern said the 10th-graders’ scores suffer largely because of student behavioral problems. She pointed out that many 10th graders are new.

Board members asked Stern if she could identify a particular reason why students were doing so poorly. She said she could not.

No board member asked the school leadership what is being done to address these low scores.

In his report, Senior Academy Director Patrick Walsh told the board that students have been recommended for suspension 53 times since school began Aug. 8, but that suspensions were issued only 38 times.

Walsh said he’s making an effort to have more parent-teacher conferences in an effort to head off suspensions. He said the number of suspensions is lower than last year.

The Lens recently reported that suspensions remain high across the city, despite an effort by the state to lower the rate.

Walsh also said attendance remains a problem, just as he reported at the September board meeting.

“Transportation is an issue for students and is the common reason why students withdraw,” Principal Reginald Flenory Sr. said.

There were 272 students at the beginning of the school year, he said, but as of Oct. 18, the enrollment had fallen to 250 students.

The board also heard from teachers who complained about crime at the school. One teacher said a colleague recently quit and suggested it was because her car was stolen from the school’s parking lot last week – weeks after her car keys were stolen at the school. The teacher at the board meeting also said her mobile phone had been stolen and that another teacher’s laptop was taken during a fire drill.

Board member Robert Burvant said the board should hear directly from affected teachers, not from a colleague who was making assumptions.

The board also heard a report regarding the school’s first graduating class, which will get diplomas in the spring. Concerned that many of the special events for seniors could be cost-prohibitive for some students, a school representative suggested that board members could sponsor students. The class consists of 38 potential graduates.

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