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Why Redesign Newburgh Free Academy?

   The Newburgh Enlarged City School District (NECSD) is committed to preparing students for a productive life after crossing Academy Field. Post-secondary education, careers, and life opportunities are in reach when Newburgh scholars are fully prepared. However, in order to actualize our district vision and mission, we must ensure all our students have access to the world-class education we speak about.

   Opportunities must be shared more equitably. Right now, we have a system that does not meet the needs of all students. Too many of our high school students are not fully prepared for the demands of a global economy. There are essential 21st century skills (problem solving, independent thinking, ability to analyze and reason, collaborate and work in teams, communication and technology skills) that each student in our district must possess once they graduate.

   NFA will move away from the traditional notion of seat time and focus instead on the knowledge and skills needed to successfully transition from high school to college and careers. Changes will reflect alternative pathways to graduation, career and technical education, meaningful learning experiences that transcend the four walls of a classroom, rigorous academic content, and instructional practices that align with post secondary demands. This commitment will require collaboration from many partners including, but not limited to, parents, public and private sector, higher education institutions, and businesses.

   We are engaged in redesigning our high school and the phases below capture what we have done and plan to do:

Phase I-A: (Fall 2014)
   The Redesign Team analyzed the current state of NFA, conducted a program audit, surveyed students and teachers, and researched other high school redesigns across the country. Together, we developed and designed principles for the NFA redesign that reflected best practices. A draft of phase one was presented publicly.


Phase I-B (Spring 2015)
    To address the challenges facing NFA and ensure that we can create learning experiences that prepare scholars for productive futures in accordance with our design principles, the Redesign Team held focus group sessions with students, parents, and administrators to share ideas and to get feedback. Moreover, the district contracted with an expert programmer to design our master program.

   A Redesign webpage was created on the district website to share up to date information about the high school transition and to also provide the public with an opportunity to participate via social media (#NFAredesign).


Phase I-C: (Summer 2016)
   NECSD Board of Education, the Redesign Team, and Superintendent Roberto Padilla will finalize and present the NFA Redesign Plan. Changes will be implemented in conjunction with the NECSD 5 year strategic blueprint; Vision 2020: The Way Forward.


Phase II-A
   NECSD accepted the proposal for a new third high school campus that will focus on students who are seeking a more personalized learning environment.



The Case for Change: A New Vision for Newburgh Free Academy

   The Newburgh Enlarged City School District (NECSD) continues to make enormous strides in preparing our high school scholars for meaningful participation in postsecondary education, career, and life opportunities. As a large, comprehensive New York high school, our challenges are real and our potential for growth is unlimited. In order to decrease dropout rates, increase graduation rates, and send off our graduates to promising careers, a new approach is required. The case for change is about transitioning to the 21st century and creating a school that benefits all students. Our commitment is focused and intentional.

Yet, significant concerns remain:
  • Prior to last year, the four-year graduation rate was at 67%, this rate was almost 9 percentage points lower than the state average of 76.4%. Over the past year, we raised the graduation rate to 77%. This was the collective effort of all of us, yet we still have much to do.
  • Large achievement gaps remain consistent across race, income, language, and disability.
  • The attendance rate is at or below 91%, with chronic attendance problems. We are working diligently to address this area.
  • Black and Latino male students are disproportionately represented in our district.
  • Currently there are limited alternative pathways for students who struggle academically in a traditional high school setting.
  • High school engagement: The 2012 National Gallup Student Poll asked students how involved and enthusiastic they feel about school. Nearly 8 in 10 elementary students reported high engagement (76%), by high school, only half that many did (44%).

   There is still considerable improvement to be made. With this in mind, we propose a new vision for NFA in which every scholar graduates prepared for meaningful and productive opportunities in college, career, and life. This approach requires an ‘all hands on deck’ effort. Our children are worth it and expect it from all of us. We are calling on all central office personnel, school building leaders, educators, students, families, businesses, higher education, community organizations, government officials, and Board of Education members. Through the work of all... includes you!

Increase instructional time for students.
   Next year instructional periods will increase from 39 minutes to at least 48 minutes by going from 9 periods to 8 periods. This additional time each day over the course of the entire year allows our teachers and students to dig deeper into rigorous content, skills, and experiences.

Every student deserves an education of high expectations and high support.
   Each NFA student should graduate with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for college, career, and meaningful life opportunities. High expectations, coupled with high support to reach these common expectations, should be conveyed to & expected of every student.

Meaningful learning is engaging, challenging, and has value beyond school.
   Optimal learning occurs when students are engaged in challenging learning experiences in which they can apply what they have learned. Educators are vital to this conception of learning as they adopt a role of facilitator, advisor, and coach in guiding students through a carefully constructed set of learning experiences.

Personalization of learning and attention to social, emotional, and health needs will allow every student to grow.
   In a personalized learning classroom, students are provided opportunities to learn in multiple ways. With a diversified student population, educators must engage in culturally responsive pedagogy and provide individualized attention to students' differing strengths and gaps, learning styles, and social-emotional needs.

   Personalized learning provides opportunities to support students' educational needs and interests while optimizing technology, utilizing customized content, and providing meaningful practices for students to show mastery.

Collaboration among school leaders and teachers, and with parents and community partners, leads to richer learning experiences.
   Teachers work together in teams to create more integrated and engaged learning experiences for students. School leaders establish a culture of collaboration and provide the supportive conditions for teacher teams to be successful. Parents and community members are welcomed into the school and engaged as partners.

Multiple pathways to Graduation
   As planning continues for an alternative high school education and increasing CTE pathways, NFA will foster student choice and increased engagement, so that every student graduates NFA college and career ready.

Service, internships, and applied learning are core educational experiences.
   The most meaningful learning experiences that are retained over time occur when a student learns by doing and applying new concepts in real world situations. Internships, and other applied learning experiences provide students with exposure to college, career, and life opportunities.

Provide career-related experiences
   Mentorships, including project- or problem-based learning in consultation with employers or service organizations offer students real work opportunities.


Redesign News
Redesign Files/Videos

XQ Super School Final Round
Posted June 8, 2016
On May 23, 2016, a team from Newburgh Enlarged City School District submitted their final application to XQ: The Super School Project, a national challenge to rethink high school. The team believes their proposal does more than that, creating a school that invites students and community members to rethink citizenship, rethink equity and fairness, and rethink the way they work together to build the future of the city of Newburgh. View PDF


NECSD Team Visits Big Picture Learning School
Posted February 5, 2016
A team from Newburgh went to visit and research best practices at a Big Picture School in LaFayette, New York. View PDF


NFA West Campus Full Proposal
Posted December 16, 2015
The following PDF is the full proposal for the NFA West Campus View PDF


NFA West Campus PowerPoint
Posted December 16, 2015
The following PowerPoint give a brief update on the status of the NFA West Campus View presentation


High School Redesign Mid-Summer Update
Posted August 14, 2015
The following PowerPoint give a brief update on the status of the High School Redesign View presentation


Redesign Team Shares First Report
Posted May 8,2015
The following PDF is a report on the High School Redesign Initiative. Includes responses from the student survey, parent survey, information on comparable schools, and more. View presentation


Superintendent Unveils New Plan To Remake Newburgh Schools
Posted April 27,2015
TIMES HERALD RECORD - First-year Superintendent Roberto Padilla unveiled a five-year blueprint for remaking the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, a plan built on more opportunities for teachers, students and parents, and the use of data to track student and district performance. Read Full Article


Focus Group Protocol Document
Frequently Asked Questions

Develop Phase Submit Video 1

Develop Phase Submit Video 2

Team Members

High School Redesign Team
NFA West Campus Team
Rodriguez, Raul
Doddo, Matteo
Katz, Eric
Harrold, Christine
McCartney, Christine
Waliszewski, Eric
Valentino, Susan
Schuyler, Rachel
Bohlke, Timothy
Anderson, Richard
Rothman, Kevin
Hurtado-Kuhn, Bertha
Southworth, Melissa
Zoutis, Chris
Kavanagh, Patrick
Shust, Bob
Prokosch, Sue
Clark, Ebony
Mineo, Carole, NECSD Board Member
Copertino, Ken, NECSD Board Member
Prokosch, Scott
Prokosch, Susan, NECSD Board Member
Bonsu, Pamela
Woody, Jeffrey
Holmes, Cindy, City Council
Hall, Sherri
Workman, Kathi
VanDyke, Taylor
Rivera, Juana
Cacciatore, Carol
Kaplan, Bill, Community Member
Howard, Phil, NECSD Board Member
NFA West – an innovative alternative to a traditional high school experience

   The need for new and innovative high school alternatives has never been greater. In New York State, there is a growing number of students arriving as 9th graders in high school struggling to catch up to their peers and accumulate the required credits. Students have either been held back one or more grades in elementary or middle school. Once in high school, students fall further behind, all the while they grow older and become less interested in school.

   We have partnered with Big Picture Learning to create a learning experience for students that is nontraditional. In September 2016, the Newburgh Enlarged City School District will official launch Newburgh’s third high school campus - NFA West.

   We will serve students who are seeking a different educational experience who may be at-risk, vulnerable, and disengaged. Research shows that some students are finding success in smaller educational settings that provide authentic learning experiences with family-like support systems. This innovative education will offer students a non–traditional education program whereby their needs are met.

Big Picture Learning is a non-profit organization dedicated to a fundamental redesign of education in the United States, Big Picture Learning’s (BPL) vision is to catalyze vital changes in K-Adult education by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized learning environments that work in tandem with the real world of their greater community. At the core of Big Picture Learning’s mission is a commitment to equity for all students, especially underserved urban students, and the expectation that these students can achieve success.

Download Big Picture Learning Brochure
Download Big Picture Learning Infographic


  • Relationships
    • Know your students and parents
    • Building these relationships are most paramount
    • Motivate your students

  • Relevance
    • Passion and Interests in Real World Work
    • Bringing the outside, in and the inside, out
    • Connect the student in the real world with a person who does what they are interested in
    • Interest Exploration-finding and discovering their passions

  • Rigor
    • Advisory System-much more than just a homeroom
    • Deep Challenging Work
    • PLP(personalized learning plan) for every student
    • Assessment-project based learning assessed to real world standards
      • Exhibitions
      • Narratives-accompany report cards for more detailed descriptions
      • Weekly meetings with advisors 1:1

High School Redesign: Feedback Form

Thank you for taking the time to participate in a discussion about the future of NFA. We need your input.

What do we want our future high school graduates to know and be able to do? *

Universal Design Principles *
Are these the right principles? What would you change? What would you add or delete?

What are the most important characteristics of the high school of the future? *

NFA is a large comprehensive high school with the greatest potential to be among the best high schools in the state. How might we improve upon existing assets? *

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