Year-End Review and What's Ahead for 2019-20

Year-End Review and What's Ahead for 2019-20

As we close out the school year, we look back on the achievements of students and staff before heading into summer. I have not been in the Cairo-Durham Central School District for long, but it is easy to see the amazing work our teachers and students are doing every day.

In September, school leaders established goals for the year and launched programs to support the District’s mission of empowering all students to realize their individual potentials. This year’s top priorities included student attendance and academic progress.


  • Attendance & Chronic Absenteeism
  • Academic Highlights & Exams Scores
  • Looking Ahead to 2019-20
  • Update on Superintendent Search
  • Graduate Recognition

Attendance & Chronic Absenteeism

Regular school attendance is crucial to a student’s academic success as well as the development of positive attitudes toward school. Therefore, all Cairo-Durham schools outlined specific attendance goals for the 2018-19 school year.

In addition to maintaining high attendance percentages, Cairo-Durham aimed to reduce the number of students who were chronically absent. “Chronic absenteeism” occurs when a student misses more than 10% of the school year (18 days or more, or just two days every month).

There were improvements in attendance throughout the District (as of June 10th):

  • At CDMS and CDHS, the chronic absenteeism rates were reduced. At CDMS, 22% of students were chronically absent this year (a decrease from 26% last year). The percentage of chronically absent students at CDHS was reduced from 40% to 35 percent.
  • The District’s overall chronic absenteeism rate was reduced to 26% (it was at 28% last year). Although the goal was to reach 24% or under, this is still a noteworthy improvement.
  • CDE was only 2% below their goal of 20% or fewer chronically absent students.

We know that regular attendance often leads to greater academic success and lower dropout rates, so we will continue efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism throughout the District.

Academic Highlights & Exams Scores

More than 400 college credits were earned by Cairo-Durham High School students during the 2018-19 school year. Students also took 72 Advanced Placement exams over 11 AP courses. These are exceptional numbers for a small school district and evidence of the robust educational opportunities available to Cairo-Durham students.

The average scores on the SAT, according to the CDHS Guidance Office, were slightly above the national average. The average score for evidence-based writing was 533 and Cairo-Durham’s average was 540. The average score for math was 527 and Cairo-Durham’s average was 541. Despite the recent media reports identifying Cairo-Durham as a low-scoring district for the SAT, these results show that average SAT scores are constantly shifting and should not be taken at face value.

At the elementary level, students made significant progress in Math and English/Language Arts (ELA) based on iReady assessments, which evaluate student abilities in Reading and Math. CDE set a goal to have 80% of K-5 students meeting their individual iReady progress scores. By the end of the year, students far exceeded that goal by reaching 95% in Reading and 100% in Math. This means that 95% of K-5 students met or exceeded typical growth in Reading, and 100% of K-5 students met or exceeded typical growth in Math.

I am also pleased to share that the amount of students who opted out of the New York State Grades 3-8 ELA and Math exams was about 11%, which is the lowest opt-out rate in several years. This means that more students are participating in the state assessments and ultimately helping the District gain insights to improve education for all students.

Looking Ahead to 2019-20

At the beginning of the school year, CDMS introduced the Positivity Project (P2) to promote a positive school culture. It has been a great success and middle school students earned 1,400 positive referrals from staff for reasons such as being a model student, giving outstanding effort and demonstrating P2 traits. Furthermore, middle school students received over 100 fewer disciplinary referrals this year compared to last year before P2 was implemented.

Following the success of P2 at CDMS, Cairo-Durham will be bringing the program to the elementary school for the 2019-20 school year. This summer, CDE administrators and teachers will participate in P2 training so they are ready to implement a modified age-appropriate curriculum in September.

Update on Superintendent Search

The Board of Education finished a first round of interviews on June 20th. Selected candidates will be interviewed in July by a committee made up of parents, teachers, students, community members and support staff. The Board will then determine the final interview candidates and select the best candidate to permanently fill the Superintendent position. Stay tuned for more updates.

Graduate Recognition

In closing, I congratulate Phebe Cunningham on being named Valedictorian and Saylor Lewtschenko on being named Salutatorian, as well as the other Graduates of Distinction for the Class of 2019. I wish all this year’s graduates the best of luck in their futures, and a safe and fun summer for all Cairo-Durham families.


Doug Kelley
Interim Superintendent