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State targets RCSD for intervention

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The Rochester school district has been flagged as one of 70 "Focus School Districts" by the New York State Education Department. Twenty-two of Rochester's schools have been identified as "Focus Schools" by the SED, and 30 described as "Priority Schools."

The full SED report was released today.

The designation means that a team of education specialists -- a State Education Integrated Intervention Team -- will come to Rochester "to assist the district and its schools in developing and implementing improvement plans," the report says.

Districts are identified as Focus Districts because of persistently low performance and lack of progress in English language arts and math, or low graduation rates for one or more of what the state calls "accountability groups." That refers to racial and ethnic groups, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities.

Districts are also classified as Focus Districts if they have multiple Priority Schools. Those are schools with ELA and math scores among the lowest 5 percent in the state, and are failing to make progress. They are also schools with graduation rates below 60 percent for several years.

Schools in a Focus District will receive intense intervention and support to improve student performance.

The new classifications replace earlier classifications imposed by the federal government's Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The Priority School list is particularly troubling because it includes many of the district's new high schools which opened to replace low-performing schools.

One local charter school, Rochester Academy Charter School, has been identified as a Focus School, and only a handful of Rochester schools are described as in "Good Standing."

There are 250 schools identified by the SED as "Reward Schools" for exceptional performance.

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