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2 Buffalo schools show improvement – but remain under state watch

Two of Buffalo’s most struggling schools showed improvement last year, but will remain under the direct supervision of the superintendent as they continue to implement their turnaround plans, the state education department said Friday.

Marva J. Daniel Futures Preparatory School, on Carlton Street, and Harvey Austin School, on Sycamore Street – both pre-K to 8 schools – are among the schools in New York that are still on a state watch list, but showed “demonstrable improvement” and are “making strides for their students,” state education officials said.

“However, we know that there is still much to be done to ensure that every child has equitable access to a high-quality education,” Board of Regents chancellor Betty A. Rosa said, in a prepared statement.

The state in 2015 passed legislation that placed the most struggling schools in receivership and gave superintendents unprecedented powers to turn them around, including the ability to bypass the union contract and involuntarily transfer teachers.

Those that don’t show enough progress each year would be closed, or taken over by an independent receiver.

The schools are measured each year on several performance indicators – including student proficiency in math and English language arts, attendance, school safety and suspension rates – and receive a weighted grade, ranging from 0 to 100. They must receive a score of at least 67.

Futures scored a 60, while Harvey Austin received a 63.

Both, however, were in a range where the district was able to appeal to the state education commissioner and make a case that there was indeed improvement, explained Genelle Morris, chief accountability officer for the school district.

Buffalo started with 25 schools on the receivership list in 2015.

Ten were removed the following June, after they showed two years of progress and their status was upgraded.

Five others were either closed or phased out, then reopened under new leadership and a new model.

Eight were removed from the list earlier this year – leaving only Futures and Harvey Austin from the original cohort of receivership schools.

School 131 Academy School, an alternative school, was added to the list in January.

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