In January, Principal Sam Sochet (third from left) announced that Martin Van Buren High School was no longer a renewal school. This week, the state announced the once troubled high school is no longer a priority school. FILE PHOTO
BY TRONE DOWD
The state Department of Education has officially removed Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village from the state’s list of struggling public schools.
Van Buren High, located at 230-17 Hillside Ave., is one of 27 schools that are being removed from the priority list statewide. The decision was made by State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, based on the school’s progress on its 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 state assessment scores.
The last two years have seen great progress for Martin Van Buren. At the start of 2017, Principal Sam Sochet announced that the school was making tremendous strides after being listed as a renewal school—or, an institution that had been identified as low-performing—by the city in 2015. As a result, the school was closely monitored by the city for two school years. Over the past two years, attendance, regents completion and graduation rates all increased by an upwards of two percent across the board.
Elia noted that Van Buren has succeeded in improving its reputation on a statewide level.
“These schools are working hard to collaborate with stakeholders to address the needs of their students, and the results so far are promising,” Elia said. “At the same time, we must remain mindful that only sustained and accelerated progress in these schools can create the level of progress necessary for us to meet our goals for all of New York’s children.”
According to the state Department of Education, a school is only removed from the priority school list once it can meet target goals set by the state, meet participation goals in both math and English and improve the graduation rates significantly over a period of two years.
Sochet told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that he was “incredibly proud.”
“When a community can come together and work together in this way, great things can be accomplished,” he said. “It’s really a monumental achievement.”
Sochet stated at Van Buren in July 2012, which was the same month that the school became a priority school. He credited the faculty with their role in turning the school around.
Elected officials in Queens—including Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows)—celebrated the school’s ability to turn itself around. Grodenchik told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that he was glad to hear about the school’s progress.
“This is great news not only for the school, but for all of the communities of eastern Queens,” Grodenchik said. “It’s been my pleasure to work very closely with Principal Sam Sochet and his team to make this moment possible.”