The Weehawken Township School District has reduced its dropout rate to almost zero, thanks to a proven set of tiered interventions for students struggling with challenges ranging anywhere from long-standing behavior issues; to temporary problems mastering a subject; to upheaval in their lives such as a movement to a new school.
The school district’s “Response to Intervention” (RTI) program begins with a teacher identifying a learner struggling in her or his classroom. The teacher is able to immediately implement an intervention such as giving the student by differentiating instruction. If that intervention isn’t enough, the teacher and the RTI coordinator quickly implement additional interventions to help the student. Once they identify the issue thwarting that student’s academic progress, they tap the right professionals to help. Those professionals include reading specialists, academic coaches, behaviorists, and school psychologists.
The frequency and duration of the intervention hinges on the student’s responsiveness to it, as well as the classroom teacher’s assessment of how fast and well the student is now learning. “Our goal is to prevent any student from falling through the cracks,” Director of Academic Affairs and Innovation Francesca Amato said.
The RTI approach is working. In 2015, Weehawken High School’s graduation rate was 83 percent. A year later it had risen to 93 percent. This year, Amato said, it was certified at 98 percent.
The Weehawken Township School District has even reached out to former students who had left school before graduating. Although official graduation rates only apply to students who finish their high school career in four years, Weehawken School District Superintendent Dr. Robert R. Zywicki is dedicated to the idea of outreach to students who dropped out, even if doing so doesn’t help the district’s graduation rates.
“We always talk about serving ‘All kids’ no matter how difficult the circumstances or time commitment,” he said. “If a student falls short of graduating, it means we’ve fallen short of our responsibility to that student.”
In the last two years, the district has reached out to students who dropped out of school, and helped usher them to graduation. One-on-one home instruction helped one of these students graduate last August, Amato said. Because the student was 18, she was able to handle the whole endeavor by herself, without the help of her parents.
In the last 18 months, approximately 180 students have been through the RTI system in the Weehawken Township School District. “Most of the time,” said Amato, “a student just needs a little bit of intervention, and he or she is right back on track.”
County’s homeless hotline AGAIN doesn’t pick up when we call – days after homeless man freezes to death in portable potty
Eight days after construction workers in Union City found a homeless man’s body in a local port-o-potty, the county’s homeless hotline is again not working. Two reporters called the number for two hours on Wednesday, a cold, snowy day, and listened to the phone ring more than eight times with each call. Others who tried got a busy signal.
This is the third time in two years that the Hudson Reporter – in the course of routine reporting on the homeless situation – tried the 24-hour emergency line and got no answer.
Each time, county officials gave apologetic responses and promises to fix the line – which homeless people are supposed to call in winter if they need shelter and the three local shelters are backed up. The county runs an overflow shelter in Kearny.
The hotline is 800-624-0287.
Stories by The Reporter (hudsonreporter.com) back to 2016 showed problems with the line, with various county officials saying it was another department’s responsibility.
On Jan. 9, local workers discovered a homeless man’s body in a port-o-potty at a construction site near a church in Union City, according to Police Chief Richard Molinari. The construction site is the location for the Sts. Joseph and Michael Church, severely damaged in a fire last March.
A company is currently performing repairs to the church, located at 1314 Central Ave.
According to Molinari, the man was Hispanic and in his late 20s. The chief believes that he used the port-o-potty to escape the freezing temperatures.
“The weather was certainly a factor in causing his death,” Molinari said. “If someone’s going to seek refuge in a port-o-john, that does not protect you from the low temperatures.”