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Englewood’s Dwight Morrow High School to lose state ‘focus’ status

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A look at issues facing the City of Englewood. Michael W. Curley, Jr./NorthJersey.com

(Photo: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com file photo)

ENGLEWOOD — After six years as a state-designated “focus” school with achievement gaps between groups of its students, Dwight Morrow High School will shed the status on June 30.

The state intervened in the school due to wide proficiency differences between Asian- American and African-American students and is now exiting after the school showed sustainable improvement, according to a letter sent to the district from the acting commissioner of education.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’re moving in the right direction and can show some tangible results,” Superintendent Robert Kravitz said.

The results include lowering the proficiency gap between the students and raising the graduation rate for the school from 86.4 percent to 87.3 percent. Kravitz said proficiency data from 2012-13, the year the school was designated a focus school, and the current school year was not available.

Dwight Morrow was one of five schools in Bergen County and 10 percent in the state with a focus label under the state’s accountability system. The others include Leonia Middle School, School Number 6 in Cliffside Park, Elmwood Park Middle School and Saddle Brook High/Middle School.

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Focus schools are identified by graduation rates below 75 percent, a proficiency gap of 43.5 percent or higher between the highest-performing student subgroup and the two lowest-performing subgroups, and the lowest combined proficiency rates in the state.

Subgroups include different racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, students with limited English language skills and special education students.

Schools with gaps are partnered with the state to improve leadership, climate and culture, instruction, curriculum, staffing, community engagement and other factors that contribute to student performance.

State oversight at Dwight Morrow will continue in a limited capacity for a year through periodic reviews and walk-throughs, Kravitz said.

The school reviewed its curriculum, lesson plans and teaching methods to lose the focus status, he said. A major overhaul of the curriculum in 2016, which unified instruction in Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies across all grade levels and schools, proved vital for closing the achievement gap, Kravitz said.

Initiatives to enroll more students in Advanced Placement classes, which provide a pathway toward college credits, and partnerships with local colleges have also helped, he said. Future efforts, such as programming for vocational training, are expected to bridge gaps even more.

“We can be better and we will be better and we’re getting better every day,” Kravitz said. “We’re on the right path to make our school a highly successful school.”

Email: shkolnikova@northjersey.com

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