Wednesday marked the first day of school for the students of the Syracuse City School District. Mayor Stephanie Miner and Superintendent Jaime Alicea visited classrooms at Franklin Elementary to encourage students to start their school year off on the right foot. Mayor Miner generated some excitement for learning how to read with her reading challenge.
“If you read 30 books, I will come back and give you an autographed bookmark, pizza and a present.”
They accepted the challenge. Superintendent Alicea is encouraged by signs of improvement on student test results.
“We saw an increase in the E.L.A. scores and another minimum increase in Math. And we saw the graduation rate go up. So we want to continue to see the student achievement go up in the Syracuse City School District.”
While recent state test scores have shown the district is improving on their language arts and math exams, the Syracuse district remains well below the state average. Last month, State school test results showed only 10 to 15 percent of students in 3rd through 8th grade were proficient on English and Math tests. Alicea says new literacy programs targeting 2nd graders are helping elementary students reach their full potential, earlier.
“We are implementing this year an early literacy program. We want our students to be able to read by the end of 2nd grade. We’re doing a lot of professional development with our teachers. So, we can make sure that our kids, by the time they get to 3rd grade, they’re reading to learn.”
Alicea says the district has added 6 new positions dedicated to helping students learn English as well as added teaching assistants in the classrooms. The school district has a diverse population and that’s no exception at Franklin Elementary. With the Trump Administration’s plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, Alicea says the district is still committed to supporting all students.
“They came to this country to better themselves, to better their family. So, it is our job to support our kids and families.”
As the year progresses, Alicea adds that he wants to work more with the surrounding colleges and universities in order to bring students and teachers alike to their full potential. Numbers released last year showed a 6.4 percent increase in graduation rates in the district from 2015 to 2016.