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Thirty-seven Falls pupils honored for perfect math or English scores

Thirty-seven city pupils were honored at Thursday's Niagara Falls School Board meeting for registering perfect scores the New York State assessment test in mathematics or in English Language Arts last spring.

One pupil, Christian Miller, scored perfect 780s on both tests as a third-grader. He is in the fourth grade at Geraldine J. Mann Elementary School.

Each pupil was called before the board and given a wooden plaque containing his or her name, school and what test the perfect score was on.

Chris said he was able to get perfect scores by the way he prepared for the tests.

"For the ELA I practiced looking back on stories I'd read and finding answers about what things that happened in them and when they happened. I got into a habit of doing that. Then for the math, I just practiced it a lot because I really like math," Chris said.

Michaela Badolato, now a seventh-grader at Niagara Middle School who had a perfect score on the grade six math exam, said, "I think I just had a really good teacher -- Joseph Catalano -- last year. I didn't study too much extra for the test. I paid attention in class and took my time with my homework. I'm a pretty good math student -- at least I think I am. But I'm no genius."

Dorothy Steinbroner, the mother of Thomas Steinbroner, a pupil at Harry F. Abate School, said her son is an excellent math student and was thrilled he had a perfect math score. "I told him, that's it. He's not going to high school. He's going straight from elementary school to Harvard," she joked.

Thomas said, "I'm not sure how I did it. I didn't expect to. The test turned out to be really easy for me. Maybe I can do it again this year." Thomas is in the district's accelerated program.

Zachary Schuster, a fourth-grader at Mann, aced the third grade ELA exam "because I studied hard and just thought I could do it. I studied for about an extra half hour every day before the test. I practiced my writing longer than I usually do and I made sure I remembered the details of the stories I read."

Brandon Payne, another Mann fourth-grader, aced the math exam by being systematic in his approach to studying for it.

"I made a list on how long I should practice math and did about 1 1/2 hours in my room every day. When I had free time in school I used it to do some math and worked on the stuff I learned. I'm an A math student and I'm pretty positive I can get a perfect score when I take the [fourth grade] test next year," Brandon said.

Board member Kevin Dobbs, whose daughter, Nicole Dobbs, taught six of the children with perfect scores, said, "I think this gives you a positive flavor on what the teachers and the students are accomplishing. The students achieve because the teachers are working closely with them and doing the right things to make sure they learn."

Deputy School Superintendent Cynthia A. Bianco said the number of perfect scores may not be a lot for some districts, but "for us it's a good size number. I think it's a wonderful achievement."

She said about six to eight city pupils had perfect scores last year, but she added the state only gave the tests to fourth and eighth-graders back then. Last spring she said pupils from third to eighth grade took assessment tests.

"You really can't compare them, but it still represents a big increase [proportionately] and it shows our teachers and our programs are really helping our kids achieve," she said.

Board President Robert Kazeangin Jr. said, "It's an indication that we are doing our job as a school district. I'm hoping that number [of perfect scores] doubles next year. We are very happy with the scores.


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