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October 3, 2016

Officials reluctant to take improving student off probation.

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A New York public school superintendent is trying to keep a homeschooled student on probation—in contradiction to both the law and the student’s clear improvement.

Tj Schmidt TJ SCHMIDT Contact attorney for New York

The young man had been placed on probation by the Schoharie Central School District when he scored below the 33rd percentile on his 8th grade assessment test for the 2014–2015 school year.

Thankfully, even when it becomes necessary for a student’s home instruction program to be placed on probation, New York regulations provide a path for remediation. There are three ways a student can get off probation: 1) Meeting the goals set in the student’s remediation plan, 2) scoring above the 33rd percentile on a subsequent standardized achievement test, or 3) obtaining a score on a standardized achievement test that reflects one year of academic growth from the previous test.

The student’s family submitted a thoughtful remediation plan at the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year, and it was accepted by the school district. At the end of the 2015–2016 school year, the young man scored significantly over the 33rd percentile on his 9th grade assessment. In fact, to the family’s delight, he more than doubled the score he’d received on his 8th grade assessment.

Reluctant Officials

However, the district’s superintendent insisted that the young man would have to remain on probation for another year because a subtest score was below the 33rd percentile—even though his composite score was well above it, satisfying the requirements for the student to get off probation.

Frustrated at the superintendent’s decision and believing it to be wrong, the member family contacted HSLDA for help.

After hearing the family’s story, HSLDA Staff Attorney Tj Schmidt wrote a letter to the superintendent. Schmidt explained that since the young man’s remediation plan had not specified a test score which would trigger him being taken off probation, all that would be necessary was for him to receive a composite score above the 33rd percentile or demonstrating one year of academic growth.

Schmidt also observed that the New York State Education Department has specifically stated that a homeschool student’s test sub-scores should not be a factor in a district’s determination of whether he or she should be placed on probation. Instead, all that is required is that the composite score be above the 33rd percentile—which it was.

We expect the family to hear that that the student has been removed from probation.