This is a very big deal.
At an assembly held in the gym right before our holiday break and the traditional Reindeer Games, our many alumni students began chanting repeatedly, “We’re number one!”. Although it was basketball season, that’s not what the shouting was about!
We cheered because Fishers Island School ranked number one in both of last year’s high school Regents science classes.
- All 13 Fishers Island School (FIS) grade 9 and 10 students who took the Living Environments (Biology) Regents test last June earned the #1 average score of the 681 districts in New York. In addition to having the top average score, FIS was the only school in the state in which 100% of its students scored in the highest band of 85-100.
- The 11 Fishers Island School grade 11 and 12 students who took Chemistry last year also scored #1 of the 657 New York districts who offered that course last year.
When I shared this information with our sole science teacher, Carol Giles, she beamed with pride and praise for her young scientists. “Our students work so hard,” she proclaimed, “I am really proud of them for this wonderful achievement!”
When I attempt to commend Carol on her role in this remarkable achievement, she emphatically disagrees. Carol deeply believes that the results are only a reflection of her students - but we all know better. A large study on teacher effectiveness sponsored by The Center for American Progress, led by respected researcher Linda Darling-Hammond, concluded that “Parents, practitioners, and policymakers agree that the key to improving public education in America is placing highly skilled and effective teachers in all classrooms.”
I love that quote because I love thinking about the teacher as a key - unlocking our students’ limitless potential with high expectations, engaging and challenging lessons, and individualized support.
I reached out to longtime Island math guru and retired teacher, Dave Denison, to learn the probability of our school scoring first in all of New York in both of our Regents science classes. From his winter home in Jupiter, Florida, Dave shared with me the following analysis:
“There is no doubt that Mrs. Giles is one of the top science teachers anywhere. FI School is so lucky to have her. As for the probability of being #1 in two categories, it would be tough to calculate. To use a little'mathspeak', if the two events were independent (that is if knowing that one event happened did not change the probability of the other happening), you'd just multiply the two probabilities:
The Board of Education is pleased to now have access to comparative student achievement data as yet another measure of our school’s effectiveness. The reports demonstrating our astronomical achievement were provided to us by School Meter, a powerful data analysis tool offered by the Center for Educational Leadership. School Meter features comparative views of New York State assessment performance, employing subgroup data to highlight how districts are meeting the needs of all students. What surprised me in reviewing the rather hefty spreadsheets is the fact that there were 26 other New York districts with class sizes of 20 students or less.
1/681 • 1/657 = 1/447417, about 0.0002%.
"These events aren't really independent though since both courses had the same teacher (and the same great school!). So, it would be a little more likely to happen because of this. That said, you can be sure that it's extremely unlikely - and something of which you all can be extremely proud.”
At our December 22nd school assembly, we recognized the following hard-working, exceptional students and alumni who were members of last year’s Living Environments and Chemistry Classes.
Members of the 2015-16 Living Environments Class:
Grade 9: Isabella Basile, Nicholas Oickle, Charles Scala, Gabriel Sparen
Grade 10: John Baez, Devin Kucsera, Hunter Kucsera, Craig Mrowka, Brooklyn Redo, Alexi Switz, Caroline Toldo, Benjamin Weber
Members of the 2015-16 Chemistry Class:
Grade 11: Thad Allen, Emma Cypherd, Molly Cypherd, Kyler Hanson, Charles Snyder
Grade 12: Alan Eastman, Keaton Hanson, Elias Kane, Gabrielle Krysiewicz, Arrianna Reyes-Suarez, MacKenzie Switz
Submitted by proud principal, Karen Loiselle Goodwin