November 22, 2016 -- In response to concerns expressed by a Glen Head resident at the November 3 school board meeting regarding Advanced Placement (AP) and International Bacculaureate (IB) exam data published in Newsday late last month that showed North Shore with significantly lower participation and achievement levels than its peer districts, Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick stated at the November 17th meeting that the Long Island’s “newspaper of record” had erred and would be publishing a correction.
As for participation rates, which Newsday calculates by dividing the the total number of exams taken by all students by the number of students in the senior class, the newspaper, explained Dr. Melnick, only counted AP exams, and not the approximately 100 IB exams students sat for. Had Newsday done so, the district's participation rate would have been 2.37 rather than the 2.01 that had been reported. The number is still low, he conceded, but explained that because the district was transitioning from the AP to the IB program, students who would have taken AP exams as juniors are instead taking comparable IB exams as seniors, and thus there was a dip in overall tests taken. Last year's seniors were not enrolled in IB classes, and so took more of their exams as juniors the previous year.
This year, the Superintendent continued, North Shore students are expected to sit for well over 900 exams, which according to Newsday’s methodology would be a participation rate of 4.06% -among the top districts on Long Island.
As for calculating the "achievement ratio," Dr Melnick explained, Newsday divided the number of students who passed the exams (in other words, those earning a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP or a 5, 6, or 7 on the IB) by the number of students in the senior class - not by the number of students who took the exam. Newsday reported a figure of 1.6 - far below the 3+ reported for peer districts. Had the newspaper included the IB scores, Dr. Melnick explained, that rate would have risen to 2.67. He said that the district anticipated that that ratio would rise to 3.80 for this year.
The Superintendent also explained that Newsday did not present data on passing rates - (percentage of students who passed the exams divided by the number who took them). North Shore, he said, with an 80% passing rate, had the highest percentage among neighboring districts, which includes perennial powerhouses like Jericho and Roslyn, and in Nassau County was second only to the Great Neck District with its two high schools having a passing rate collectively of 86%.
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Following up on a request made at the previous Board of Education meeting, and one made last spring, by members of the High School's Environmental Club to consider adopting a recycling program at the high school, the trustees, citing costs to the district and other issues said that more research needs to be done before adopting such a program;
John Hall Director of Buildings and Grounds, in response to questions from Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick, said that he had gotten a quote of $8400 from the Winter Brothers carting company to pick up and recycle cardboard and paper, with glass and plastic being an extra cost for which he has not yet gotten information. The high school, he explained, is in the Glen Head and Glenwood Garbage Collection district, and while it will pick up trash, it will not make trips to the schools to pick up recyclables as it does for residents. Sea Cliff School is the only school not located in the Glen Head Glenwood Garbage District, and its recyclables, like its regular trash, are picked up by the Village.
Trustee Herman Berliner estimated the cost to be about $3 per student per year for the cardboard and paper recycling and with glass and plastic maybe around $5 per student.
"For a socially responsible program, are we really talking about a major amount of money which is a strong priority for our students?" he asked.
Mr. Hall replied that the District would have to see what the costs are. He explained that the decline in the price of petroleum has made plastic recycling less profitable. He said that when the high school had a recylcing program years ago, the district would take in revenue from recycled plastic, but that would no longer be the case in today's market in which municipalities pay to have facilities take their recyclables.
Trustee David Ludmar , citing a report on the past recycling program , noted that there had been some problems. "It's not just the cost of garbage going into the wrong bins and transportation," he said, "but also raises the question as to to whether it creates an environmentally advantageous situation with use of fuel."
"Maybe this presents a good educational opportunity to put these questions back to the students,and see if they can come up with a cost effective way of doing this," he continued. "It sounds great but given the totality of the situation perhaps the students might be able to make the case or realize and learn that maybe something that sounds like its a good thing maybe isnt' necessarily a good thing."
Trustee Sara Jones suggested that perhaps the students might seek a political solution by reaching out to elected officials to address the issue of the Garbarge District's refusal to pick up recyclable waste at the schools as they do for residents.
The board requested that Mr. Hall return with more information regarding costs and other issues, and with that information in hand, they would make a decision.
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