Great Neck South High School joined the upper echelon of state schools recently when it was identified as one of 16 Reward Schools in Nassau County by the State Education Department. The honor, which recognizes schools with a high academic achievement or those with the most progress in the state, was announced by state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
The 16 Nassau schools are part of 155 statewide to claim the achievement. In order to achieve Reward School recognition, schools must be in the top 20 percent of schools in the state for English Language Arts (ELA) and math performance for both the 2015–16 and 2016–17 school years; have made Adequate Yearly Progress for those two school years for all groups of students on an array of measures, including the requirement that 95 percent of all groups participate in the ELA and math assessments; and not have unacceptably large gaps in performance between students who are considered low-income students.
School officials said that this honor was made possible by the hard work of students, teachers and the entire school at large.
“The success of any school district takes the dedication of exceptional staff, informed parents, a supportive Board of Education and involved community members to create the best possible environment for our students,” said Dr. Teresa Prendergast, superintendent of Great Neck Public Schools. “Both North and South High Schools are committed to providing an exciting, unique learning opportunity and we applaud the accomplishments of our students.”
Christopher Gitz, EdD, principal of Great Neck South added, “Great Neck South High School being recognized as a Rewards School is a great honor for our faculty, staff, students and community. The success of Great Neck South High School is a direct result of a caring and dedicated staff that works tirelessly to support our students in all that they do; students that understand the value of hard work and academic excellence; supportive parents who encourage their children to be their best; and a district administration and Board of Education that support teaching and learning such that Great Neck South is recognized as one of the top high schools in the country. It is a continued privilege to be the principal of such an outstanding school.”
Elementary and middle schools must also demonstrate that more than 50 percent of students are making annual growth in ELA and math; and that more than 50 percent of the school’s lowest-achieving students are also making gains. High schools must have graduation rates higher than 80 percent to be a high-achieving school, more than 60 percent to be a high-progress school and the percentage of students in the school who graduate with a Regents diploma with advanced designation or a Career and Technical Endorsement must exceed the state average. Additionally, high schools must demonstrate that their graduation rate for students who entered the school performing below proficient in ELA or math exceeds the state average.
“The teachers and administrators at these Reward Schools work hard each day to raise the bar and give their students opportunities to achieve their dreams,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “The proof is in the results these schools have obtained and I am thrilled to celebrate their success.”
Of the awarded schools, 64 are housed in New York City, 73 are located in the rest of the state and 18 are public charter schools. Last year, 107 of these schools were also identified as Reward Schools and 81 have been identified as Reward Schools for three consecutive years.
“It’s truly impressive that so many of this year’s Reward Schools were able to maintain the designation for three years in a row,” said Elia. “All of these schools serve as models to others in the state to inspire them to achieve a high level of accomplishment and improvement.”
The other Nassau high schools honored include John F. Kennedy in Bellmore, Bethpage, W. Tresper Clarke in Westbury, Garden City, Herricks in New Hyde Park, Jericho, Locust Valley, Lynbrook, Manhasset, North Shore in Glen Head, Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, South Side in Rockville Centre, Roslyn, Syosset and Wantagh.
—Additional reporting by Sheri ArbitalJacoby