The West New York school system continued its march toward excellence last week when School No. 3, located on Polk Street, was recognized by the New Jersey State Board of Education as a "Title 1 distinguished school."
According to a press release, "Based on academic achievement and programmatic success, the National Association of Title 1 State Directors have recognized P.S. No. 3 as an example of high performing Title 1 schools throughout the nation."
A Title 1 school, as defined by the New Jersey State Department of Education web site, "is a federally funded education initiative for students that are economically and educationally disadvantaged. It is designed to provide assistance to improve the academic performance of low-performing students in the areas of language arts literacy and mathematics."
A Title 1 school receives a grant from the federal government. A school is considered Title I eligible "if the school attendance area has a defined poverty rate that is at least equal to the district average rate, or is 35 percent or higher."
So basically, School No. 3 is a standout amongst the 30 other Abbott district schools in the state and is being recognized as such on a national level.
According to a letter sent to West New York Superintendent of Schools Anthony Yankovich from Linda Dold-Collins, director of the federal office of Title 1 program planning and accountability, "The purpose of the Title 1 Distinguished Schools Recognition program 2002-2003 is to identify schools that are (1) ensuring that all children have access to effective instructional strategies and challenging academic content; and (2) demonstrating success in ensuring that all children, particularly educationally deprived children, make significant progress towards learning that content."
According to School No. 3 Principal Clara Herrera, the whole process started with a visit from state inspectors. Said Herrera, "They came and inspected our school. They looked at everything. Our curriculum, our teachers, everything." According to the letter sent to Herrera from Dold-Collins, "the visit confirmed that committed and dedicated staff, parents and students are the key components of successful Title 1 schools."
In an interview last week, Superintendent Yankovich said, "It's a terrific award for us because is indicates that the students are really achieving academically despite their economic standing. In West New York, we do not lower the bar. We expect everyone to achieve."
In a recent press release, Yankovich said, "The Board of Education is proud to accept this recognition from the Department of Education honoring outstanding academic efforts by the students of P.S. No. 3. We particularly commend the faculty and staff for their demonstrated leadership and commitment to helping the students of P.S. No. 3 achieve high scholastic achievement through inspired teaching and special programming."
West New York has distinguished itself by formulating a three-point plan for student achievement. The first point is having "reading specialists" that are on hand to help any student who may be having problems. The second point is a 90-minute reading period that is intended to get the student involved in reading for the sake of reading. And thirdly, the schools have an "extended day" program that caters to students who need intensive, one-on-one assistance.
When Gov. Jim McGreevey visited the West New York schools recently, he said, "Clearly, the initiatives undertaken here in West New York are paying off for these students. Every student should be extraordinarily proud of themselves. They stand as examples of the kind of achievement I hope bring to every student in New Jersey."
Principal Herrera went on to say, "It's really an honor. It reflects the hard work of the parents, the teachers and the whole community. One of the factors to the success of the school is that our faculty members are very committed. Many of them went through the West New York school system and because of that, are very committed and want to give back to their community."