• JB

    James Bodziak

    reform - verb - to put or change into an improved form or condition; to become changed for the better

    The New York State Regents reform agenda has been significantly buoyed by the awarding of $700 million in federal funding known as Race to the Top (RTTT). This award will be spread over four years and is earmarked for initiatives designed to spur reforms in K-12 education. Roughly half of the RTTT funding or $348.3 million will go to New York State school districts, while the other half will be used by the State Education Department to build a data infrastructure which will enable schools to track individual student achievement, even if the student moves from one district to another.

    RTTT allocations vary widely from school district to school district because the formula for distributing the money is based on the Federal Title I model which heavily weighs student poverty and district enrollment. While our school district's allocation is low (approximately $33,500), we will pool our allocation with other districts in order to develop teacher-administrator leadership teams whose purpose will be to look at curricula, instruction and data analysis in order to improve East Aurora student achievement based on national standards and new systems for assessing student progress.

    The State Education Department and the Regents have both stated that graduating from high school is not enough. The goal of the K-12 educational reform movement is to have every student graduate from college and be career ready. This will be accomplished by focusing on four critical reforms:

    • Adopting internationally-benchmarked standards and assessments which prepare students for success in college and the workplace
    • Building instructional data systems that measure student success and inform teachers and principals how they can improve their practice
    • Recruiting, developing, retaining and rewarding effective teachers and principals
    • Turning around the lowest-achieving schools
    Our school district is known, both locally and at the state level, as being high achieving. Typically 80% of our students score at or above 75% on the English Language Arts Regents exam and almost the same percentage (79%) score at or above 80% on the Mathematics Regents exam required for graduation. Our graduation rate is one of the highest at 92%. Considering these high percentages, it would be easy to conclude that the K-12 educational reform movement does not pertain to school districts such as ours. However, as technology has caused "the world to become flat," and we find ourselves in international competition for well paying jobs and future economic growth, it is more important now than ever to ensure that East Aurora students are well prepared for the challenges they will face once they graduate from high school. The Regents' goal of having every student graduate college and be career ready is a daunting reform goal, yet reflective of what our district's mission statement and goals support for our students. As K-12 educational reform moves ahead nationally and at the state level, our school district will be part of this reform and will continue on with our quest for educational excellence for all our students.

    "The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow

    is uneducated the day after."

    -- Newton D. Baker