Some upsetting statistics were reported out of the state of the schools address in Holyoke Wednesday night, but Superintendent Sergio Paez says he has a plan to improve the district.
He discussed the low test scores and high drop out rates and said changes need to be made.
Holyoke has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state and the lowest third grade reading proficiency compared to other gateway cities in Massachusetts.
Paez has a lot of work ahead of him that he outlined in his state of the schools address.
"Our promise or our obligation to educate our kids is our social justice piece, this is our duty as schools," he said.
Step one is increasing reading levels, reducing teen pregnancy rates and drop out rates. Paez says just a little more than half of Holyoke high school students graduate. The statewide average is 85 percent.
"I think public education anywhere has its challenges," said Dave Sheehan, vice chair of the Holyoke School Committee.
Sheehan works closely with Paez and says their vision is to not just have every student graduate from high school but to have them go on to college or into the workforce.
"We are excited to see some of the changes in the test scores. We've seen some increases in our bench mark assessments done in the classrooms. We are, I think we are, heading on the right path," Sheehan said.
Paez told the small crowd changes must be made in order to see transformation in students.
"We've been really looking at the aspects of our work and making changes in the ground and the teams in the schools, the leadership teams, and the principals and administrators have been very supportive. It has been a fantastic year for me, and I look forward to continuing with changes in the next few months," Paez said.
Copyright 2014 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.