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Garden City Students Continue to Show Achievement Gains

Over the past five years, Garden City has seen an increase in the number of students sitting for AP exams: from 325 in 2007 to 531 in 2012.

Dr. Teresa Prendergast, assistant superintendent for curriculum & instruction, at the 2012 Student Achievement Report.
Dr. Teresa Prendergast, assistant superintendent for curriculum & instruction, at the 2012 Student Achievement Report.
What was noteworthy about the data shared by Dr. Teresa Prendergast, assistant
superintendent for curriculum & instruction, at the 2012 Student Achievement Report, was not only the gains in state assessments made by Garden City students over a three-year span, but the consistency and/or steady increase in the results.

“Everyone would agree,” said Dr. Prendergast, “Garden City is one of Long
Island’s leading academic institutions, offering an excellent educational experience that prepares our students to lead, and make a difference in the world. We are a vibrant community of students, parents, faculty and staff. The challenge that school districts face is not just balancing budgets, but also improving outcomes and providing students with a quality education that focuses on academics, music and the arts, extra-curricular activities and athletics.”

Director of Guidance, Gina Christel, presented the Class of 2012 statistics for the
high school’s 306 graduates. Fully 99 percent graduated with a Regents Diploma, with 81 percent earning diplomas with Advanced Designation, 45 percent earning Advanced Regents Diplomas with Honors, and 36 percent earning Advanced Regents Diplomas. Ninety percent of the Class of 2012 is currently attending four-year colleges.

Results for Advanced Placement (AP) classes and the exams attached to them were especially impressive. National AP exams, depending on the student’s score, can prepare students for college, count toward college credit, and offer a valuable time and cost-savings opportunity for college-bound students and their parents.

Over the past five years, Garden City has seen an increase in the number of students sitting for AP exams: from 325 in 2007 to 531 in 2012. Recent graduates also increased their scores, with 77 percent achieving a 3 or higher (AP scores range from 1-5), and 21 percent of the exams achieving the highest possible score (5).

With 201 AP Scholars designated by The College Board in 2012, Garden City surpassed its own record of 186 set in 2010. Of the 2012 AP Scholars, 88 students were designated as Scholars, 47 as Scholars with Honors, and 66 as Scholars with Distinction.

Fourteen of these students were also recognized as National Scholars, up from four in 2009. The 2012 AP Scholar total represents an increase of 30 percent in just three years.

Also highlighted by Dr. Prendergast were such district initiatives as the college- level courses offered in Business (Adelphi University) and World Languages (St. John’s University). These courses offer students the opportunity for direct transfer of college credit while still enrolled at the high school. Currently, 116 students are enrolled in the college-level language classes, compared to only 28 enrolled in AP language classes last year.

To further dis-aggregate the findings, test results in grades 6-12 were discussed
by the district’s curriculum coordinators. In English, for example, high school students maintained a 99 percent passing rate. In Grade 8, students scored the second highest passing rate on Long Island and the third highest “mastery” rate in Nassau County. Grade 7 scored the highest passing and mastery rates in Nassau County, while Grade 6 scored the highest passing rate in Nassau County and ranked 2nd in mastery rates within our comparator districts.

Stu Dods, mathematics coordinator, highlighted the high school’s AP and Regents
Exams results in mathematics. Referring to the district’s emphasis on opportunities for learning, Mr. Dods emphasized, “We don’t have exclusions [for our students], we want all students to succeed.”

He noted the increase in enrollment in AP mathematics courses, and the value colleges place on these. “I am most proud of the number of students we have taking AP classes,” he explained. The high school had more than 200 students study either AP Statistics and/or AP Calculus BC last year.

At the middle school level, Mr. Dods noted that passing rates for Grade 8 mathematics were the second highest in Nassau County; Grade 7 had the highest passing and mastery rates on Long Island; and Grade 6 had the highest passing and mastery rates in Nassau County.

“These are the types of courses that open doors in college,” shared science
coordinator Dr. Elena Cascio when discussing the department’s four AP classes: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and, new last year, AP Environmental Science. She also noted a substantial increase in the high school’s science research classes, an area the district has been actively growing, from 12 students in 2010 to 35 in 2012.

On the Living Environment Regents Exam, Dr. Cascio explained, “Garden City
ranked as the #1 high school on Long Island.” She also shared the recent awards won in regional, state, and national competitions by high school students, many of whom spend their summers working on research projects at local hospitals and universities.

Achievements were realized in the Siemens Math, Science & Technology competition and the Museum of Natural History’s Young Naturalist competition; Garden City students also captured top finishes in the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair (LISEF), and its state counterpart (NYSSEF).

In social studies, coordinator Jeannette Balantic repeated the importance of students having “a college-like experience before they go off to college,” emphasizing the seven AP courses offered in social studies – four that count toward graduation and three electives. “We really invite kids to take these classes and actively extend that opportunity to them.”

Students taking the U.S. History and Global History Regents Exams scored the second and third highest mastery rates, respectively, on Long Island. Ms. Balantic noted other achievements of students in her department including those of the Academic Quest team who were named last year’s regional champions in the Foreign Policy Association’s annual competition.

In World Languages, Mr. Peter Giacalone noted that 72 percent of students in Garden City continue to study a language for a fourth year. He explained that 98 students in the high school were enrolled in more than one language, and that a record number - 78 students – were inducted into World Languages Honor Societies last year.

Dr. Nina Prasso, district coordinator for music and the arts, highlighted a variety
of achievements including the high school being selected as a Grammy Signature semi-finalist winner, a Scholar-Artist Award of Excellence winner, and the Marching Band’s third consecutive win in the open division of the USSBA (now U.S. Band) New York State championship. Dr. Prasso also noted that 78 students performed at All-County Music Festivals and three were accepted as All-State musicians, with nine selected as alternates.

At the elementary level, Stewart Principal Linda Norton and Stratford Assistant Principal Janet Gonzalez reported that in the English Language Arts assessment, Grade 5 achieved the second highest mastery rate in Nassau County; Grade 4 had the second highest mastery rate in our comparator districts; and Grade 3 achieved the second highest passing rate in our comparator group.

In the state mathematics assessment, Grade 5 achieved the third highest passing rate in Nassau County; Grade 4 had the second highest passing rate on Long Island; and Grade 3 ranked second in mastery rates in Nassau County. For the Grade 4 science assessment, Garden City students maintained a consistently high passing rate of 99% in 2012, 100% in 2011, and 99% in 2010.

Dr. Prendergast concluded the presentation with highlights of future initiatives, including the college essay-writing course to be offered during the 2013 Summer Enrichment Program. This class provides the opportunity for rising high school seniors to complete their college essay before the start of their graduation year.

Additional initiatives include ACT and SAT prep through Castle Learning. The district, through its subscription to Naviance (a web-based college application tool), will begin to track admission and retention rates as Garden City graduates move on to higher education.

“We are a full-service school district,” Dr. Prendergast concluded, “and we have much to be proud of.”

To view the entire 2012 Student Achievement Report, please visit the district’s
website: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us, Departments, Curriculum & Instruction.

Submitted by the Garden City School District

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