Newburgh advocates say K-8 test scores are so low, 'it's a crisis'
Four Newburgh school board members who resigned from their posts in protest say school district officials are ignoring a crisis in their elementary and middle schools.
One of those former board members, Deborah Bouley, said administrators are avoiding taking action over abysmal scores on tests provided through the program, iReady.
The iReady tests are meant to help teachers know which students need extra help in math and reading.
The test scores from last fall, though, show that 80% of K-8 students cannot read at grade level and 90% cannot do math at grade level.
"What these show, though, is a level so low that one really needs to take pause," Bouley said during an interview at her home Wednesday.
Bouley, a retired teacher, said teachers do not have the time nor the resources to bring so many struggling students up to speed.
Bouley told News 12 that in December the board was scheduled to discuss the results and possible solutions.
The five board members who did not later resign voted to delay the discussion.
Bouley said district administrators have not since suggested any solutions, nor even mentioned the results publicly.
"They fall behind each year if someone doesn't step in and teach them how to read," she said, "whatever it is they missed in those early years."
In an informal poll of students' parents and alumni, the responses were similar.
Most said the school district and students' families are equally to blame.
Eunice Manning, whose daughter recently graduated, said the district must forge relationships with families of the struggling students.
"That should have all been in place," she said during a hair treatment at a local salon.
"That way parents can be involved and students would be more involved, too.
"District officials said to expect improvement.
"iReady is a diagnostic tool that is one of several data points that help our educators focus their instruction based on a student's unique needs," an emailed statement read.
"iReady diagnostic scores are administered three times a year. In general, it is anticipated that the lowest scores will be earned at the beginning of the year, before most of the content has been reviewed, with improvement demonstrated in the middle of the year, and the highest scores earned toward the end of the year as most content has been covered."
The district agreed with some parents on one important point.
"The district encourages parental involvement in each student's education," the statement continued.
"Research shows that students demonstrate better academic performance when they are supported at home."
Bouley is concerned that students may enter high school unprepared, and suggests their shaky educational foundations lead to low graduation rates.
Data from the State Department of Education show the graduation rate between 75% and 81% in previous school years, but has not posted the graduation rate for the 2022-2023 school year.
The school district also has not publicly shared last year's high school graduation rate.