Schools Exit Turnaround Programs, Some Stay - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Schools Exit Turnaround Programs, Some Stay

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 LAUREL, Del. (WBOC) – The grades are in and one school in Western Sussex, Laurel Intermediate Middle School, will not graduate from a state program to help it improve. Nine other schools are exiting state turnaround programs according to the state Department of Education.

If schools show consecutive years of strong performance, they can exit these programs. 

Jamie Morgan's oldest daughter goes to Laurel Intermediate Middle School. 

“She comes home everyday with a lot of homework, about two hours of it,” said Morgan. “She's constantly studying for tests.”

The fifth through eighth grade school is the only one left on the state's “Partnership Zone” plan, aimed at providing additional resources to low-performing schools through the federal Race to the Top grant. 

Morgan was disappointed to hear the school missed the mark this year. 

“It makes me really sad because I think that my daughter deserves the best. I thought she went to a good school, I know they have really good teachers,” said Morgan. 

Four other Delaware schools are exiting the Partnership Zone program because they each grew test scores enough to meet “Annual Yearly Progress” goals and did not show any serious declines.

Superintendent of Laurel Schools John Ewald said this year the school missed exiting the program by a slim margin. 

“While there is disappointment that Laurel Intermediate Middle School did not make Annual Yearly Progress in one cell, there is much excitement as to the work of our students, staff, parents, community and administration,” said Ewald. 

“I don't think testing is an accurate way to assess every child. I think some children stress under tests,” said Morgan of the results. 

Nine schools are exiting different turnaround programs in the state. Dover High School, Lewis Dual Language Elementary, Marbrook Elementary and Stanton Middle schools are leaving the “Partnership Zone.” Booker T. Washington and Fairview elementary school, Newark High School, Oberle Elementary School and Banneker Elementary School in Milford are all exiting the “Focus Schools” category. 

 Governor Jack Markell acknowledged the effort of the schools in a statement, “I applaud the administrators, educators, students and families of these schools who have worked hard to make progress for our students. As we recognize these improvements, it's important that we remember that the statistics aren't just numbers. They represent young people who have better opportunities to reach their potential, thriving in the classroom and beyond.”

In another state category, Frederick Douglass and West Seaford Elementary Schools remain as “Focus Schools.” These are described by the department of education as schools with achievement gaps for low-income or minority students. 

Dr. Stephanie Smith from the Seaford School District said the district is in the process of reapplying for the grant for the coming years. 

Laurel Superintendent John Ewald said the school will be in the Partnership Zone for one additional year. 

“We appreciate the ongoing support of the Governor and the Department of Education and we celebrate the increased academic rigor in the classrooms, the ongoing commitment of staff and a school culture focused on students and their achievement,” said Ewald. 

In a statement, the Delaware Department of Education said “the remaining schools are continuing their work to meet their individual school community's needs, as identified through their school plans. We will continue to support them in this work and look forward to also celebrating with their communities as they meet their goals.”

The state's top focus is on six “Priority Schools” that have some of the state's lowest test scores. These schools are all located in New Castle County. 
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