By LEVI PASCHER
BROADALBIN - The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District Board of Education on Monday discussed new academic goals call for aggressive improvements in student achievement over the next three years.
Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said one possible goal would address local course failures and reduce them by 50 percent over the next three years while still maintaining the current level of rigor.
"It is not acceptable to say, 'Let's just make things easier to give kids a pass,'" Tomlinson said.
He said the district also wants to increase the number of students reading at the appropriate grade level by 15 percent over the next three years.
The district will look to increase proficiency on state assessments by 10 percent over the same period.
Tomlinson said another goal is increase the graduation rate to 96 percent and increase the number of students graduating with distinctions by 10 percent.
Graduating with distinction requires the student to earn a grade of 90 percent or higher in every class during high school.
"The number of kids we have walk across the stage this year with the highest level of diploma we can offer in New York state - we are going to increase it by 10 percent," Tomlinson said.
He said that may be the most difficult goal to achieve, but it is his belief the district needs to increase its overall level of academic rigor and graduate higher-level learners.
In the 2012 academic year, the district had a graduation rate of 86.9 percent out of 175 students, while in 2011 it had a rate of 91.5 percent with 153 students.
He said the district already graduated the highest number of students with the highest number of college credits in the region, which is because the district offers the most college credits of any district in the area.
"I want the number of diplomas with distinction [to increase]. That's rigor," Tomlinson said. "That's the highest level of learning."
Board President Edward Szumowski called the new goals ambitious but achievable, while Vice President Robert Becker praised the academic goals for aggressively addressing students' performance in the classroom.
Some of the other goals the board has been discussing throughout the month include:
-?Enhance and increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning opportunities for all students in all grades.
-?Accelerate and institutionalize the use of technology to increase instructional effectiveness and operational efficiency.
-?Strengthen and formalize relationships with area businesses and institutes of higher education.
-?Improve the school culture in each building by strictly and consistently enforcing the district's Code of Conduct.
-?Exemplify lifelong learning by formalizing ongoing professional development opportunities for board members.
Board members agreed to go over the goals again during a special meeting next month and finalize those they would like to strive for before the first day of school.
"We have to raise the academic bar of our students, and our goals are aggressive," Tomlinson said. "I believe the best way to create significant student achievement is to be aggressive with your goals."
He said most of the goals are over a three-year period to take some of the anxiety and stress off the faculty working to have their students meet these expectations.
Levi Pascher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.