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King: State takeover of RCSD could happen

Rochester, N.Y. -- Dr. John King toured several Rochester schools during his visit Wednesday. He was impressed by the diversity of the student population at School Number 15 on Averill Avenue.

Students there speak 35 different languages. While schools like that are thriving, King said he is concerned about those that are struggling.

He said for some schools in the Rochester City School District: "this is a crisis situation...graduation rates are below 50 percent and there is a sense of urgency to act in the best interest of students."

King said it is up to the school district and school board to improve student performance, but if it doesn't happen over time, he said the state can step in and take control of the school district.

There is no timetable but King stressed that the Governor has also expressed the urgent need for action to help troubled schools.

We asked King about other issues facing the school district, including a proposal to eliminate pre and post assessment tests. The district and teacher's union approved this after parents and teachers complained that students are overtested.

King said the state will likely approve that plan. He said each district has to decide what approach is best to prepare students for state assessment tests. He said while pre-tests are intended to help prepare students, there are other things teachers can do to make sure students are ready for these state exams.

We also asked King about the large number of appeals filed by Rochester teachers who got low evaluation scores. 650 teachers appealed their results.

He said while that number is high, the district has to look at why that is and what can be done. He said the goal of evaluations is to offer teachers professional development and support to improve student performance. He said, evaluations are here to stay.

Patrice Walsh, 13WHAM-TV
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