On Dec. 12, the Lynbrook School District’s Board of Education voted to modify the district’s Voyager Program for intelligently gifted students to offer both a pullout enrichment program and an enrichment-for-all program in the 2019–20 school year.
“It’s what was the most efficient program to benefit most of our students,” said William Belmont, the president of the board.
Under the modified program, all third-graders in the district would take the CogAT exam, which tests verbal, quantitative and nonverbal skills. Any student who scores in the 89th percentile or higher would then take the SAGES-2 test, which is a reasoning subtest. Students who score a 140 or higher on that test would be eligible for the Voyager Program and opt to take a full day of enriched learning at West End Elementary School once a cycle. Students could also be re-tested to attend the program.
The program would also offer enriched lessons for every student in third- through fifth-grade. An additional teacher would be hired to work with classroom teachers and develop enriched lessons based on what the students are already learning.
The board’s decision comes after a committee comprised of teachers and administrators met for months to brainstorm ways to improve the program. In November, Gerard Beleckas, the superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Neil MacDermott, the district’s instructional technology coordinator, presented the board with the two options the committee agreed would be the best options. The first option was the one that involved both a pullout and enrichment-for-all program that the board approved last month. The other option they presented would phase out Voyager’s pullout program once the third-grade students in the program finish fifth-grade. Under that proposal, every student in fourth and fifth grades would have enrichment programs for two hours every other cycle.
Several parents of students who attended the Voyager Program, however, said at the November Board of Education meeting that eliminating the pullout program would be detrimental for students who need enrichment. Laura Murray, a parent of two children who are currently in the program, even likened eliminating the pullout program to eliminating Resource Room for students with learning disabilities. She explained that before her son began the Voyager Program, he did not want to go to school. But now, she said, he is excited about the lessons he is learning in the program and has become a leader in the Voyager classroom.
“It meets the needs of learners like my son and it gives them an experience and an outlet they could not possibly receive in the regular classroom,” Murray said.