Originally Published in the Saratogian: December 22, 2011. Click here to read online. 

By SUZANNA LOURIE

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Maple Avenue Middle School has seen a significant drop in the number of course failures and an improvement in test scores in the past year, according to Principal Stuart Byrne.
Byrne delivered the annual state of the building report to members of the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education during the regular board meeting Tuesday evening.

The middle school, unlike many of the district elementary schools, has maintained, and even increased enrollment numbers — up to 1,660 students from 1,637 in the last academic year.

Byrne pointed to the reduced number of course failures as an example of the school meeting the|district-wide goal to “raise the bar.” Last year, there was a total of 334 course failures, down from 448 courses failed in the 2009-2010 year, decreasing the percentage of failures from 2.71 percent to 1.95 percent between the two years.

The most notable improvement in test scores was a jump in eighth-grade English Language Arts numbers.

The school moved up from 10th to first in the regional rankings.

Like eighth grade, sixth-grade ELA scores improved in the statewide rankings, as did eighth-grade math scores. Seventh-grade ELA scores and sixth- and seventh-grade math scores fell slightly.

Byrne said Maple Avenue Middle School is working toward meeting the district’s four other goals — closing the gap, focusing on the power of literacy, building 21st century learners and cultivating powerful leadership.

Byrne emphasized the school’s increased focus on using the Student Council to promote student leadership and community service.

Some other 2011-12 school year initiatives include modifying science to have an increased writing component and integrating a new system called PlascoTrac, a program designed to reduce student absences and late arrivals.