I had mixed reactions after reading the Dec. 9 article about the students who are living below the poverty line in Niskayuna. The article, “School officials seek ways to meet changing population focused on “a trio of students who are well behind on credits and facing family and emotional problems.”
My first reaction was that the district was being proactive. But I soon realized that the goal was to preserve and protect the graduation rate of the district. What about multiplying the “trio” of students by hundreds who attend school in high-poverty districts across the state and country? All city and many rural districts already knew what the Niskayuna district apparently just recognized.
The administration stated, “These are real people that exist in our halls,” and, “It’s not something that you just hear about or read about; these are actual people who we want to help reach their learning outcomes.”
City districts such as Albany and Schenectady are filled with students just like the “trio” in the Niskayuna school district. Teachers within city and rural districts work tirelessly to provide a first class education to all students, regardless of economic status. Specifically, teachers in districts with high poverty levels have also “thrown every intervention they have at students ...” to help them reach their learning outcomes. These students are provided with the support and services of social workers, psychologists, mentors and special education teachers.
The Niskayuna district sates that it is at a loss of what to do with these students and is seeking outside placement in order to persevere its graduation rate at 95 percent. I wonder if all high-poverty districts should seek outside placement or other programs for the dozens or hundreds of students with similar profiles as “the Niskayuna trio” in order to improve their graduation rates.
In general, I am glad that the Niskayuna school district is helping to educate the community about the struggles and needs of students who generally live outside most wealthy and high-resources districts. I am also glad that school officials cited research regarding the challenges of students who live in poverty and how it negatively impacts their ability to learn.