Sunday, December 12, 2010

About Student Academic Performance

People who don't have children in the Hudson City School District have little opportunity to know what goes on in the schools. We may be awestruck by the magnitude of the district budget ($44 million to educate fewer than 2,000 students) and resentful about our required contribution to the budget through property taxes. We may be concerned that the schools in the district seem always to be flirting with the designation "School in Need of Improvement" and dismayed by the district's abysmal graduation rate. From time to time, when some crisis happens that makes the headlines, we may turn out for a school board meeting, but that's about it. It's hard to stay focused on an institution that seems determined to be inscrutable. Still, what happens in our public schools has a very real impact on the well-being of our community. The quality of available public education is an important factor for companies and individuals considering relocation--not to mention the fact that the school district's failures, in large part, become the City of Hudson's problems to deal with.         

At the heart of everything in public education is how well students do academically. Back in May 2009, the Board of Education created, by resolution, a Task Force on Student Academic Performance. The charge given to the group was "to study the school district's student academic performance and recommend to the Board of Education ways of improving that performance." Chaired by BOE member Peter Meyer, the task force met twice a month over a period of eight months. They consulted with national, state, and local experts. They visited the high-performing Elmsford Union Free School District which, although located in Westchester County, is demographically similar to the Hudson City School District. They prepared a draft report, which was presented to the Board of Education on February 22, 2o10. Ten months later, no action has been taken to accept the report or to pursue its recommendations.

Since February, Meyer has been taking the draft report of the Task Force on Student Academic Performance "on the road," presenting its findings to various groups within the schools and in the community at large. Gossips believes this report needs to reach an even greater audience to persuade the BOE and HCSD administration to take it seriously. Click to access the Power Point presentation and the draft report.           


  1. Thanks, Carole, for this. Hudson schools are not nearly as bad as their "reputation," but they are not nearly as good as they could/should be.... We'll be finishing up this Task Force Report over the next couple of months and present it to the BOE in February. Any and all input is welcome. --peter meyer

  2. This is a problem that begs for local solutions. Hudson has a school system that is average at best among its rural school system cohort. This in a state system that is one of the highest spenders in the country that nevertheless produces mediocre outcomes within the world of US education.

    When I compare the roughly $22k per pupil spent in Hudson with spending in schools in Massachusetts it is obvious to me that the performance problem in Hudson is not a shortage of money. Massachusetts, a one party state with powerful education unions and a very fragmented system, has managed to vault its educational performance from mediocre to world class in ten years.

    Read the very interesting article about American education in the current Atlantic Monthly, "Your Child Left Behind" by Amanda Ripley (

    Finally it is clear that in the present and future world, we need to set our goals high. This means comparing our performance to world standards, not the folks in a few other towns of similar demographics in an underperforming state.

    Thanks Carole for bringing up this issue. Mark Orton