When the starting bell sounded on Sept. 4, the Hudson City School District headed into the homestretch that will bring closure to our Vision 2020 goals. We have come a long way since we first set our Vision 2020 goals to raise the bar, close the gap, align curriculum and instruction, and promote the social-emotional development of our students.
Since 2015, we have either met or exceeded our goals in several areas but in some cases, we’ve missed the target. As we begin to develop a new set of goals for the next few years, I want to mention some of the high points we’ve had so our community has a sense of the Hudson City School District’s outlook for 2020 and beyond.
After historically low graduation rates, we set a goal to “raise the bar” and raise our district graduation rate to 85% by June 2020. Our students and faculty have worked hard to improve the district’s graduation rate from 59% in 2013 to 80% in 2018. This is equal to the state average, which means we are on a par with our peers. We look forward to sharing the 2019 figures when the State Education Department releases the information early next year.
In addition to raising our graduation rates, we set targets for improving student performance on Common Core Regents exams. We knew this would be a challenge, so we set our goal at a modest 30% of all students achieving at least 75% on English/language arts and at least 80% on math. We surpassed our target in ELA every year by as much as 42%, but we have not yet made it to 30% for math. We are investing more heavily in this content area across the district to help us intervene where needed and infuse a deeper understanding of math concepts in all grades. We remain confident that our goal is well within our reach.
Likewise, we set a reasonable goal of 30% of students meeting or exceeding the grades 3-8 Common Core ELA and math proficiency targets. So far, we have made steady gains with a high of 32% in ELA and 26% in math. We are closing in on our Vision 2020 goals in both subject areas.
In 2013, we were identified as a Focus District, partly due to the low graduation rate for black and economically disadvantaged students. Of course, this status was not acceptable, so we set out to close the gap by setting a target of 70% across all subgroups. We exceeded our goal each year and reached upwards of 80%, which means we are graduating students in minority subgroups at a much higher rate than ever before.
Two years ago, 63% of our students received at least one college or vocational credit. Our goal is 90%, which means not enough students are taking advantage of and succeeding in these credit-bearing courses. We are working to change that with additional college-level course offerings and work-based learning opportunities starting this school year.
Through a partnership with SUNY Cobleskill, we’re able to offer five new college credit-bearing courses for a total of 15 additional college credits. Furthermore, these courses are available free of charge to our high school students who qualify for free/reduced lunch. This is a tremendous benefit to our students and families. We are looking forward to adding even more course options.
We are also in the final stages of being able to certify coursework and work hours for high-school students who meet the criteria for a national work readiness credential. The Career Development and Occupational Studies credential supplements a diploma and benefits students by providing them with career-related coursework, work-based learning experiences and a Board of Regents endorsed credential recognizing entry-level employment readiness.
Lastly, we are seeing more student and parent engagement in school-sponsored events, extracurricular or athletic activities, mentorships, internships and service to the community. In turn, with this increase in engagement, we have seen a reduction in the number of academic, tardy and discipline referrals written each year.
Hopefully you can see the state of our district is better than it has been in years thanks to the dedication and support of our Bluehawk leaders, educators, students, families and community. Bring on 2020!
Dr. Maria Suttmeier is superintendent of Hudson City School District.