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Education

Plan to help 'failing' schools improved, educators say

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Ed and Eddie
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Education reforms were one of the most contentious parts of this year's state budget. But while most of the attention went to negotiations about teacher evaluations and standardized tests, new policies also were put in place for dealing with failing schools. 

Schools that have had extremely low graduation rates and test scores and have not been able to fix the problems on their own will have an outside receiver put in place to try to turn the school around. Schools that have been on the list of failing schools for three consecutive years, will get two years to try to fix the problems. If a school has been considered failing for 10 years, they will have just one year to prove itself. 

That extra time was a change from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's original plan. Tim Kremer, with the New York State School Boards Association, says the extra time was something they lobbied for. 

"We said, give us a chance with some powers and authorities that you would give to a receiver. Give those to the people at the local level and see if we can demonstrate progress and turn things around. And if we don't, there should be consequences."

The school has to come up with a plan for improvement. After the prescribed period of time, the school would go under receivership if it does not show what the law calls "demonstrable improvement."

"That's a very relative term and has not been properly defined yet. So we're not sure what standard we're up against."

The other change from the governor's proposal is that the school district gets to recommend who the independent receiver will be. Receivers could be an organization or a person. Receivers will have broad authority to make changes to try to improve the school.