Webutuck students improve in 2018-19 tests


The 2018-2019 school year brought higher proficiency scores in state English Language Arts and Math tests for almost all grades 3-8 and improved passing rates in 11 of 12 Regents exams taken by Webutuck Central School District students.

Superintendent Ray Castellani said the upward shift comes from two key factors: a change in instructional practices and staff buy-in.

Teachers are using blended instruction, which allows students to learn at their own pace with direction from the teacher and incorporating technology into the classroom.

Teacher Deanna Ambrosino works with a small group of students on suffixes during an ELA ‘Stations’ day.

This is a huge success,” Castellani said of blended instruction. “With the groups, the teacher can break down skills and provide enrichment or remedial help as-needed.”

During one of Deanna Ambrosino’s recent classes, students split into four groups and did work on their individual iPads based on assignments identified on a large, interactive white board. Ambrosino then worked individually with groups throughout the period.

Just how much better were the scores?

ELA scores at the proficient and highly proficient levels were up at least 6 percent for grades 4, 5, 6 and 8 while Math scores were up at least 16 percent for grades 4, 6 and 8.

Regents’ passing rates varied, with increases ranging from 1 percent in Earth Science to 50 percent in Geometry. Overall, the passing rates for all 12 exams was at least 76 percent with most exceeding that.

Teachers are using data they gather to help make instructional and curriculum additions, Castellani said.

One tool is the I Ready tests.

It’s a prestest to see what carried over from 5th grade and to help us identify strengths and weaknesses,” Darrin Butland, a 6th-grade science and social studies teacher explained last week as his class took the test.

Teacher Assistant Dawn Drake answers a student’s question during I Ready testing.

Castellani said district faculty and staff believe in the direction the administration and Board of Education are setting.

They know they’re supported – any resource they need is found for them,” he said. “We’re committed to long-term stability in the board and administration.”

And the proof of their belief and commitment to the students is the scores.

You see the growth in students and that’s where you see the positive results of our efforts,” Castellani said.