Although it may come as little surprise to some people that Schenectady High School has been named by New York state as a persistently low-achieving school, students at the high school were quick to respond to the news.
“I don’t like it ’cause I know that we have the potential of being so much better. We also have the IB (International Baccalaureate) program, which shows how smart the students in the school are,” said OKenya Hickson, who is a senior at Schenectady High School.
Another senior at the school, Jameka Priest, said, “I think that every school has their low point and everyone’s to blame.”
The state announced Schenectady’s addition to the low-achieving schools list on Dec. 9. Schenectady High School joins Albany High School and more than 75 other schools statewide on the list. Students got a letter sent home from the school explaining why and how this happened.
There are four ways to get on the state’s low-achieving schools list: to be in a restructuring phase, to have low performance in math and English, to fail to make appreciable gains in English and math performance or to have a graduation rate below 60 percent.
Currently, Schenectady High School is in the process of restructuring due to low Regents test scores over the past six years.
“This announcement is not a surprise to us,” said Schenectady school district Superintendent John Yagielski. “We didn’t make AYP (annual yearly progress goals) over the last six years and just began advanced restructuring, so it was quite obvious that we would be identified.”
Peter Parisi, who is principal of the GE Scholars School of Humanities and Culture in the district, said that he was disappointed by the news.
“The label does an injustice to all of the hard-working and outstanding students in this school. You students should never lose confidence in who you are and what you might accomplish,” Parisi said.
As part of the restructuring, the city school district established ninth grade academies, as well as a 10th grade preparation program. There are many other strategies and programs being implemented into the new plan as well.
“We are putting a lot of energy and resources into the freshmen and those students who aren’t successful as ninth and 10th graders,” Yagielski said.
Since Schenectady High School has made this low-achieving list, there is one good thing that may come out of it. The district is now eligible for a School Improvement Grant that can range from $500,000 to about $2 million.
The district will be submitting an application for those funds, according to Yagielski.