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Raising the bar: Watertown City School District addressing low test scores

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The Watertown City School District is looking to improve test scores and graduation rates that are largely below the state average and where the district wants them.

Data from the state Education Department for the 2022-23 school year shows that Watertown ranks last among school districts in Jefferson County in proficiency rates for grades 3 to 8 in both math and English language arts. The district had a 32% proficiency rate in grades 3 to 8 for math and 29% for English. The state average last year was 52% for math and 48% for English.

Regents scores were much higher, with 82% proficiency for the English Regents, 71% for geometry and 75% for Algebra II, all of which are not last in the county.

The lower scores in grades 3 to 8 have been keeping Superintendent Larry C. Schmiegel and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Lynn S. Gaffney busy.

“Right now, we’re looking very closely at the data to see individually for teachers, for grade levels, for buildings, where kids might be having more struggles and making sure that we’re pinpointing that in our instruction,” Gaffney said.

Teachers are able to look back at their students’ test scores from the prior year to see where their students are falling short. Principals and students are also having meetings with their teachers to review the data regularly.

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