Finley Middle School One of Only 10 U.S. Schools...

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Finley Middle School One of Only 10 U.S. Schools Recognized for High Achievement


2011 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools Program Honors Diverse Set of Schools

Robert M. Finley Middle School is one of five middle level and five high schools in the United States recognized for academic successes through the 2011 MetLife Foundation-National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Breakthrough Schools program. The schools will be honored at the 2011 NASSP Conference, which is being held in San Francisco, CA, February 24-27, 2011.

Established in 2007, the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools program recognizes middle level and high schools that are high achieving or are dramatically improving student achievement and serve large numbers of students living in poverty. Finley Middle School and the other winning schools will be featured in the NASSP magazine and each school will receive a grant of $5,000. Finley is one of only two schools in New York State to win the award and is the sole middle school in the state to have been bestowed the honor.

“The entire Glen Cove community has embraced its middle school. Everyone from the mayor to small business owners to clergy and parents, teachers and students alike feel that this school is important and successful,” said Finley Middle School Principal Anael Alston. “The school is a microcosm of America that works hard to celebrate its diversity and prevent any student from feeling disenfranchised. With almost half of the 652 students considered economically in need, gaps in student achievement have decreased significantly just as all student achievement has improved over the last five years. This improvement is attributed to targeted professional development that has focused on differentiated, hands-on classroom instruction.”

The leaders of schools selected for the award have proven that with leadership, time, and a clear focus, high-poverty schools can be turned around. Nine of the 2011 Breakthrough principals have been in their position for at least five years. Although “adequate yearly progress” can be an effective measure of success and growth, the call for principals to achieve AYP status within two years may not allow the same results that these turnaround principals have achieved.

“Glen Cove is a collaborative community at work,” added Glen Cove Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Laria. “This recognition is the result of everyone working together with a common north. Glen Cove is on the rise.”

“These 10 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools have made incredible gains in academic achievement by providing rigorous instruction and personalizing their schools to meet the needs of each and every student,” said NASSP Executive Director Gerald N. Tirozzi. “I applaud the schools for their focused efforts and the principals of these schools for their leadership. We look forward to featuring them as models of success in the coming year.”

“We are pleased to join NASSP in recognizing the important role of principal leadership in schools that have increased student achievement and in sharing the lessons learned," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation.”

Selection criteria are based on a school’s documented success in implementing strategies that are aligned with the three core areas of NASSP’s Breaking Ranks framework for middle level and high schools: the cultivation of collaborative leadership skills among staff as well as students; mentoring of students and fostering of strong school-community/home connections; and providing rigorous coursework and differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all learners, with a strong focus on literacy and numerical skills. Success in implementing the strategies is documented and verified through school site visits.