Rochester City School District improvements recommended

ROCHESTER — A state education official has issued a report with 106 findings and 84 recommendations on how to “reset” the Rochester City School District and improve student achievement and operations.

Distinguished Educator Jaime Aquino released his report during a Nov. 14 press conference at the district’s central office alongside New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa.

The Rochester school board must submit a plan in response to the report by Feb. 8, said Elia, who identified the departments of special education and English language learners as areas in need of an overhaul.

A positive note in the report is how the city’s prekindergarten program is one of the best in the nation, she noted.

“But what happens in pre-K, that doesn’t translate to K-12,” Elia said.

Rosa said the district’s lack of stability — with five superintendents in the last decade — is another key issue that must be addressed. Aquino, who has been analyzing the district for the past two months, said a lack of stable leadership also is found in other departments, such as teaching and learning and the office of school chief.

“Disruption is a key problem,” Rosa said.

Recommendations in the report include: adopting a common curriculum in all subject areas, having the superintendent play a more active role in monitoring the special education department, establishing a network of schools focused on English language learners and developing a comprehensive parent-engagement system.

During a Nov. 15 press conference at central office, Van White, school board president, said the report lacked data to back up its findings that district staff are not focused on the children.

“The methodology was erroneous — they spoke to adults and only adults,” he said. “If you really want to focus the conversation on children and not adults, you must focus on data.”

White noted that the district’s administrators and board will tackle their specific areas and prepare responses to issues raised in the report. The responses will then be synthesized into a plan that will be submitted in February.

“I think he (Aquino) makes some critical comments, important comments, about curriculum and our need to assess where we’re at in terms of how we deploy for our staff on how our children should learn,” he said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For a copy of the report, visit

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