Pelham school board approves tenure for 10, hears about pandemic’s impact on some test results

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The Pelham Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to award tenure to ten district staff members and received a presentation on the impact of the pandemic on some elementary and middle school test scores.

Granted tenure were Linda Haynes, Samantha Horn, Yutong (Daisy) He, Lisa DiCeglio, Leilani Ruprich, Frances Corelli, Paige Hefter, Sean Llewellyn, Jeannine Carr and James Hricay.

“They have each demonstrated a history of success in their roles within our schools,” said Board President Jessica DeDomenico. “Our teachers have also demonstrated the ability to bring out the best in our students, creating learning environments that foster respect and collaboration in their classrooms. Additionally, they have demonstrated their ability to communicate effectively with parents and their colleagues, as well as to contribute to the greater learning community of their schools and our district. Our administrators have shown their dedication to our students and our schools through their willingness to listen, adapt, manage sometimes competing needs, engender trust and model leadership.”

Dr. Maria Thompson, director of humanities, detailed testing results in the English language arts portion of the presentation on “lessons from the pandemic.” The comparisons are based on benchmark tests given by the elementary schools and the middle school. The federally mandated state tests were not given in 2020 due to the pandemic.

  • The mean composite scores and percentage of students who scored above the target grade in grades K, 1, 2, 4 and 5 decreased from 2020 to 2021.
  • The mean composite scores and percentage of above-average-scoring students in grades 3, 6, 7 and 8 increased from 2020 to 2021.
  • The rate of student growth increased across all grade levels from fall of 2020 to winter of 2021, with the greatest growth rates in grades K, 1 and 2.

District research shows that students began the academic year behind by two or three months, said Thompson. There will be summer learning courses offered for all grade levels, and the courses have received an increase in invitational participants, she said.

Dr. Tom Callahan, director of math and science, said the majority of grades K through 8 saw mathematics scores drop during the pandemic.

  • Mean testing scores are lower this year then 2020 in all grades except grades 2 and 6.
  • All grades’ scores are above the national norm, except for third grade.
  • The gap between Pelham’s higher math results and the national norms narrowed.

The district is looking to adjust curriculum, implement digital resources and increase contact time during the next school year in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on learning loss in math, according to Callahan’s presentation. It is still collecting more data from students through testing.

Pelham Middle School Principal Lynn Sabia announced that the middle school was recently named a National School of Character. Assistant Principal Sean Llewellyn stated that the middle school is one of two national schools of character in New York, and one of 47 in the United States.

The board certified the results of the school district election Tuesday, in which the $80.3 million budget for next year was passed and Ian Rowe and Dr. Michael Owen-Michaane were elected to the school board. The election drew more than 2,000 voters, nearing the same turnout of the 2018 bond vote, said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ. The budget passed with 74% of voters in favor.

Julia Chung, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services, said that the pop-up vaccination site at the high school allowed 150 people to receive Covid-19 shots.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for June 2 at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page.