School turnaround through receivership

Every three years New York State identifies schools that perform the lowest on standardized tests. Those schools are classified as “comprehensive support and improvement” schools. If the schools do not make progress over a designated period of time, state law allows a “receiver” to be appointed who will manage and operate the schools under a specific improvement plan. This is known as the school receivership.
A school can get out of receivership three ways:

  • Close and restructure;
  • Meet all its progress measures and no longer be considered a comprehensive support and improvement school; or
  • For two years meet certain performance measures determined by the state Education Department.

For more information about receivership, please contact:

Michele Bridgewater

District Improvement Director

Two City School District of Albany schools – Giffen Memorial Elementary School and Sheridan Preparatory Academy – are currently in receivership. The receiver designated to oversee their improvement efforts is Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams.

That means the schools need to take steps to improve in order to meet the expectations created in the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal law that outlines how states can use federal money to support public schools.

It also means that the schools will be governed by the state’s receivership law, which appoints a “receiver” -- initially, the superintendent -- to oversee the turnaround of these schools. The law sets a deadline by which the schools have to demonstrate improvement.

The superintendent will work with Giffen and Sheridan Prep principals and their respective school communities to develop practices to meet and exceed the law’s expectations.

Giffen and Sheridan Prep both showed academic progress in some areas in 2018 even though the state placed them in receivership.

At Sheridan Prep, the percentage of students proficient in ELA (levels 3-4) increased from 9 percent in 2017 to 14 percent. The percentage of students at level 1, the lowest level, also decreased from 56 percent to 38 percent in third grade.

In math, Sheridan Prep’s percentage of proficient students increased from 6 percent to 14 percent.

At Giffen, in ELA the percentage of students at level 1 decreased by 13 percentage points in third grade, by 20 percentage points in fourth grade and by 10 percentage points in sixth grade. The school’s percentage of sixth-graders proficient in ELA also increased from 5 percent to 15 percent.  

“While Giffen and Sheridan Prep did not meet all of their academic targets in 2018, it is important to note that both schools did make progress,” Adams said. “We are confident that with the strong partnerships these schools have begun to build through their Community Schools models, and with the leadership and teamwork they have in place, Giffen and Sheridan Prep will join our district’s list of schools in Good Standing.”

All three district schools that have been in receivership in the past – Albany High School, Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy and William S. Hackett Middle School – have made the improvement necessary to return to Good Standing.

As the receiver for each school under its current status, the superintendent will work with each principal and the three school communities to develop practices to meet and exceed the expectations of the law. Change opportunities at the schools could include:

  • Becoming a community school, meaning the building would be a hub to provide social, health and mental-health services for students and families
  • Changes to curriculum
  • Extending the school day and school year
  • Re-staffing

Each school also is required to create a community engagement team under the new law. Each school's community engagement team will consist of the principal, parents and guardians, teachers and other school staff, and students. The team's membership can be changed at any time.

Each community engagement team must develop recommendations for improvement of the school and solicit input through public engagement. The team will present its recommendations periodically to school leadership and the receiver.