Helping students reach—and often exceed—grade-level benchmarks John F. Kennedy Magnet School, Port Chester, New York

Helping students reach—and often exceed—grade-level benchmarks


School provides personalized learning to close the achievement gap

“We are just a little school on the edge of town. But at the end of the day it is the teachers who can make or break a school. It is always the teachers that can make great things happen. Last year we saw growth in areas we had not seen before,” explains Louis Cuglietto, principal at John F. Kennedy Magnet School (JFK Magnet) in Port Chester, New York.

An elementary school in Port Chester, New York is making great things happen for their English Language Learner student population. John F Kennedy Magnet School' s dedicated teachers, caring principal and tools including Pearson's SuccessMaker have helped these students reach and often exceed grade-level benchmarks.

At the end of the year the reports pulled through SuccessMaker show that ELL students are achieving New York State grade-level objectives just like the non-ELL students.

Louis Cuglietto


Third grade bilingual students exceed grade-level objectives, and more

Students, both standard and English language learners, are reaching grade-level objectives.


Since 1999 the Hispanic population in Port Chester has grown more than 17 percent and they now account for 59 percent of the town’s residents. Approximately 85% of JFK students come from homes where Spanish is the first language. Principal Cuglietto and his staff have worked hard during the past decade to create a bilingual program within the elementary school program that serves the needs of their Kindergarten through fifth grade students. Throughout the year, students are assessed to determine their Spanish and English proficiency. Some students are placed in a bilingual track, developing both their English and Spanish language skills, while others receive their learning experiences primarily in English with ESL strategies, if needed.

The teachers have created many learning experiences at JFK Magnet to help students reach grade-level objectives and bridge the achievement gap brought on by socioeconomic hardships. “We understand that our parents, due to socioeconomic issues and language barriers, cannot help our children,” says Cuglietto. “We understand our role in this community and that is to provide these children with a safe haven and an opportunity to close the achievement gap. Our children need the break.”

Principal Cuglietto and his teaching staff have searched extensively for great learning tools that benefit their children. One such tool has been Pearson’s SuccessMaker®, a computer-based program that gives students personalized learning experiences in language arts and math. All students in second through fourth grades use the program, interacting with the modules’ lessons several times each week to practice concepts they have learned in class. SuccessMaker is also considered a Tier II intervention, giving students another opportunity to master important concepts. For students learning English, they use SuccessMaker to learn new words and phrases. “The data from the program paints a picture of the academic progress of our students. More importantly, it affords a differentiated small group instruction model for our teachers and helps them ensure students are progressing throughout the year to meet grade-level objectives,” said Cuglietto.

“When we examine student reports at the end of the year through SuccessMaker, we can see that our students have reached and often exceed grade-level benchmarks. Last year alone our third grade students finished the year by reaching on average a 3.12 level in math and a 3.19 level in reading, which means they exceeded the state-approved benchmarks for third grade. Our third grade bilingual classes achieved on average 3.12 in math and 3.10 in reading,” said Cuglietto. This progress is exhibited year after year in all JFK Magnet’s grades.

He continues, “Because of the strong partnerships we have with companies like Pearson and our great teaching staff, we have been able to address many of the challenges our students face and give them the skills they need to be successful as they move on to middle school. I hope they take the lessons learned here throughout their lives.”


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