The State Education Department has named Westhampton Beach High School a “reward school,” a designation awarded to fewer than 100 high schools in the state based on their high academic achievement.
Schools Superintendent Michael Radday explained at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting that the State Education Department uses a complex formula to determine which schools will receive the designation. He said it takes into account the district’s yearly progress and graduation rate, and how well it is able to close the achievement gap for minority and economically disadvantaged students.
“Clearly, it shows to me that we are offering up a world-class education to all students at Westhampton Beach High School,” Mr. Radday said. “This award certainly is a recognition of the whole school community. It’s an accomplishment by the faculty, staff and administration, and a testament to the work that these folks do on a day-in and day-out basis in support of our students.”
The school is the only one on the East End to receive the designation.
Mr. Radday also congratulated the students and their parents for their hard work and achievement, as well as the faculty and administrators at Westhampton Beach’s sending districts. During the meeting, Mr. Radday and Suzanne Mensch, the board president, presented Westhampton Beach High School Principal Chris Herr with a proclamation, congratulating him for the accomplishment.
“One of the messages we tried to deliver on opening day this year is that everyone in this organization, from classroom teachers to administrators to food service workers and custodians and security, everyone plays an important role in the outcome of our students,” Mr. Radday said. “This is certainly a reward that I think everyone can share and the whole school community should be proud of this recognition.”
At the same meeting, the board discussed the possible benefits of allowing students to take online courses taught by college professors for high school credit. Students can currently take advantage of the increasing number of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which are taught by college professors and are free but offer no college credit; the state education department does not permit high school students to earn any type of credit for taking online courses.
Board member Gordon Werner explained that new technology offers students the opportunity to audit online college courses, allowing them to experience that level of instruction and how it feels to be in a lecture with hundreds of other students. He said he thought Westhampton Beach should take the lead in pushing the state to come up with a policy that would allow students to earn credit for taking such online courses, as long as the instruction and their work are monitored.
“If we’re not the leaders, then I think we’re going to have to be the followers,” he said. “We have to decide as a board that that’s the avenue that we want to pursue. It has to be a whole cooperative event, but we have to start somewhere.”
Board members and Mr. Radday agreed to discuss the issue further this fall.