in Malverne is a model for schools throughout New York State, according to a case study conducted by the SUNY Albany School of Education.
The public elementary school was one of 10 schools in New York featured in the “Know Your Schools-For NY Kids Project," which foused on best practices for meeting critical needs at the elementary level.
Davison Avenue Principal Ed Tallon said researchers contacted Malverne Deputy Superintendent Richard Banyon in February after they singled out Davison Avenue School for its high performance on state tests despite its poverty levels - in 2009-2010, 34 percent of the student body was eligible for free or reduced lunches. They looked at data from the Math and ELA exams administered between 2007-2009, when Davison taught Kindergarten through Grade 4 (The school has since been reformatted to teach only Grades 3 and 4, and will soon include fifth graders.) and noticed that the students performed relatively higher than others in New York facing similar challenges.
For two days in March 2011 they toured the building and conducted interviews with teachers, chairpeople, guidance counselors, the school's social worker and Tallon himself to learn more about what works for Davison Avenue students and faculty.
"Every teacher is invested in the success of every student. We feel the children are our children, crying when they don't succeed and cheering when they do," one teacher told the researchers.
The report praised Davison Avenue for its "school-wide committment to success, individualization of instruction and services, collaboration, and balancing test preparation with teaching skills, strategies and content." It also highlighted a number of the school's best practices including its monthly Peacemakers Assemblies, part of the district-wide R.I.C.E. program aimed at encouraging respect among students, and its celebration of student achievement by showcasing those who earn a place on the Honor Roll. One of the school's goals is to motivate more students to achieve Honor Roll status, the study noted.
"It's ingrained in our philosophy...We are going to keep the bar high for our students," one Davison Avenue teacher was anonymously quoted in the report.
Parent involvement was another component that researchers looked at. Davison Avenue has done an exemplary job of engaging students' parents, including those who do not speak English. Since roughly 15 percent of the school's students consider English to be a second language, Tallon said, in recent years the school has arranged for Spanish and Haitian-speaking parents to have a translator available to them at parent-teacher conferences. Notices that are sent home to parents are also written in both English and Spanish.
The report, which can be read it its entirety here, also praises the school's staff for its collaborative efforts.
"We're constantly fine-tuning our instruction," said Tallon, who is in his ninth year as principal of the school. "This was a real team effort. We are very proud."