Friday, February 6, 2015

John Avery Parker School should not have been designated as a Level 5 School

The John Avery Parker School was designated as a Level 4 school in spring 2010. After implementing a three-year Turnaround Plan, the school needed to meet performance criteria set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to move out of Level 4 – a score of 75 on two MCAS-based indicators- Performance and Progress Index (PPI) for all students and for high needs students.
As shown below, the Parker School exceeded both of these scores.
2013
PPI
PPI High Needs
Level 4 exit threshold
75
75
Parker School
83
80


The PPI scores for the Parker School were similar to those (and higher than some) of the Level 4 schools that the Commissioner determined should exit Level 4.
Schools that exited Level 4

PPI
PPI High Needs
William Monroe Trotter Innovation School
Boston
100
100
Alfred J. Zanetti PK-8
Springfield
100
96
Union Hill Elementary
Worcester
99
99
William P. Connery Elementary
Lynn
94
98
Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary
Lowell
91
93
Gerena Elementary
Springfield
89
88
Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
Boston
86
88
Matthew J. Kuss Middle
Fall River
83
81
John Avery Parker Elementary School
New Bedford
83
80
Blackstone Innovation Elementary
Boston
82
82
Harbor Middle Pilot School
Boston
82
86
Homer Street Elementary
Springfield
82
82
E.J. Harrington Elementary
Lynn
77
78
John J Doran Elementary
Fall River               
75
74
John F. Kennedy Elementary
Boston
71
68

The Parker School’s PPI scores were higher than those that remained in Level 4 and the three other schools that were designated as Level 5.


PPI
PPI High Needs
John Avery Parker Elementary School
New Bedford
83
80
Remaining in Level 4
SPARK Academy
Formerly South Lawrence East Middle School)
Lawrence
77
72
Jeremiah E. Burke High School*
Boston
76
79
Brightwood Elementary*
Springfield
73
73
Elias Brookings Elementary*
Springfield
68
68
English High School
Boston
67
70
Chandler Elementary*
Worcester
64
64
Elihu Greenwood
Boston
63
65
Dearborn Middle School
Boston
59
59
William J. Dean
Holyoke
53
59
High School of Commerce
Springfield
51
51
White Street Elementary
Springfield
47
47
M. Marcus Kiley Middle
Springfield
37
40
John F. Kennedy Middle
Springfield
23
23
Community Day Arlington Elementary
Lawrence
54
52
South Lawrence East Middle School (8th Grade)
Lawrence
77
72
Chestnut Street Middle
Springfield
25
27
Designated as Level 5
Morgan Elementary
Holyoke
61
58
Paul Dever
Boston
58
58
Holland
Boston
52
52
*Exited Level 4 in 2014
The school had a higher 2013 school percentile rank among similar schools than many of the Level 4 schools, including some that exited Level 4 in 2013.


School Percentile
Commissioner’s Decision-2013
Elementary Schools



Alfred J. Zanetti PK-8
Springfield
63
Exited
Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary
Lowell
26
Exited
William Monroe Trotter Innovation School
Boston
21
Exited
John J Doran Elementary
Fall River
21
Exited
Union Hill Elementary
Worcester
19

E.J. Harrington Elementary
Lynn
18
Exited
William P. Connery Elementary
Lynn
15
Exited
John Avery Parker Elementary School
New Bedford
15
Level 5
Dearborn Middle School
Boston
10
Continued in Level 4
Blackstone Innovation Elementary
Boston
9
Exited
John F. Kennedy Elementary
Boston
9
Exited
Homer Street Elementary
Springfield
8
Exited
Morgan Elementary
Holyoke
8
Level 5
Chandler Elementary*
Worcester
8
Continued in Level 4
Elihu Greenwood
Boston
4
Continued in Level 4
Gerena Elementary
Springfield
4
Exited
Community Day Arlington Elementary
Lawrence
4
Continued in Level 4
Paul Dever
Boston
4
Level 5
Elias Brookings Elementary*
Springfield
3
Continued in Level 4
White Street Elementary
Springfield
3
Continued in Level 4
John P Holland
Boston
3
Level 5
Brightwood Elementary*
Springfield
1
Continued in Level 4
Elementary-Middle Schools



Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
Boston
28
Exited
High Schools



English High School
Boston
6
Continued in Level 4
Jeremiah E. Burke High School*
Boston
4
Continued in Level 4
High School of Commerce
Springfield
2
Continued in Level 4
William J. Dean
Holyoke
2
Continued in Level 4
Middle Schools



Matthew J. Kuss Middle
Fall River
39
Exited
Harbor Middle Pilot School
Boston
11
Exited
SPARK Academy
Formerly South Lawrence East Middle School)
Lawrence
8
Continued in Level 4
South Lawrence East Middle School (8th Grade)
Lawrence
8
Continued in Level 4
Chestnut Street Middle
Springfield
2
Continued in Level 4
M. Marcus Kiley Middle
Springfield
1
Continued in Level 4
John F. Kennedy Middle
Springfield
1
Continued in Level 4

While the Commissioner may consider additional factors in making a decision about Level 4 schools, the data do not appear to support a Level 5 designation. Based on the data, the Parker School is an outlier.

As noted in the NBEA appeal to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on May 9, 2013-
Interestingly, under the exit criteria currently used for Level 4 schools (authorized as part of Massachusetts’ flexibility waiver from the Elementary and Secondary School Act), Level 4 schools need to achieve a cumulative PPI of 75 or higher in the aggregate and for all subgroups of students by the end of the turnaround period.  As Parker’s aggregate PPI is 83 and high needs students PPI is 80, its performance was well above the threshold to exit Level 4 status.[1]  In fact, its PPI scores in both categories were higher than three schools that exited Level 4 to Level 3 and higher in one category and close in the other category than four schools that exited Level 4 to Level 3.  (Attachment G.)  Clearly, Parker students are achieving academic growth, moving towards proficiency.[2]  This has led many to question not only why Parker was designated a Level 5 school but why it did not become a Level 3 school.  Rather than the disruption and instability that comes with a Level 5 designation, the Commissioner could have extended Parker’s Level 4 status (as he did for many other schools) if he still had concerns, thus allowing the Parker teachers to continue on the path of improvement. 




[2] It is not expected that an underperforming school will hit all proficiency targets after three years.  Instead, the goal is to halve the proficiency gaps by 2017.  , Parker met the intermediary targets for narrowing the proficiency gaps in math and science and showed improvement in ELA.  It also met the growth target in math and was at the state median in ELA.  Parker teachers are on the right path and if had they the curriculum and coaching supports in ELA, it likely would have been enough to help their students improve more quickly in ELA.  

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

For an education system that lives and breathes DATA, these numbers are extremely compelling. I find these numbers to contradict the argument by the DESE to designate the Parker School a Level 5 school. Clearly there is a designed agenda going on in NBPS amongst the DESE and the superintendants office. It is time for those organizations empowered with the responsibilities to defend the integrity of the teacher and the student to come forward and fight to discredit the level 5 designation of the Parker School, whether they are MTA, NBEA, NB City Council or the NB School Committee.

Something is very wrong in NBPS!

New Bedford educator said...

How horrible. Clearly an abuse of power. What is the hidden agenda here? What did Dr. Durkin and Mitchell Chester cook up in an attempt to advice their agenda while abusing innocent hard working teachers?

Anonymous said...

Low laying fruit. That is what Parker was and is. Grandstanding will be next. Watch.

Anonymous said...

They broke up the team of teachers at Parker that achieved these results and it was the W R O N G move. The Dream Team selected by Miss New Bedford 2010 has started leaving before the 100th day of school. It seems like the person who approves all the poor hiring decisions should say more than, "Turnaround work isn't for everyone."

Anonymous said...

Smoke and mirrors again in New Bedford enabling those with political connections & ambitions to pursue their agenda & game plan for higher positions. Why am I not surprised. The average Joe has NO idea how political education is....

Anonymous said...

Parker was the perfect school to take over. The old team initiated the turn around and made it the hidden gem of the NBPS. Consider the school collateral damage in Chester's quest to privatize urban education. Notice how all the students there are called "scholars". Wouldn't be surprised if in a few years Parker became a charter. Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

So, is it true that Dr. Durkin is receiving 30K on top of her 180K to oversee the Parker School turnaround plan? If so, it will be even more lucrative if the additional 30K is allowed to be applied towards her retirement salary.

Anonymous said...

^ no, it''s not true. It was stated in the newspaper that she's wasn't taking any additional money for being the overseer of Parker

Anonymous said...

But once again this will never be made public and will continue to be swept under the rug in hush hush fashion.

Anonymous said...

Parker was really never low it was all a pack of lies....other schools were lower,but somehow their scores became high by majic.

Anonymous said...

I was working at Parker during that year. Mr. Fay had implemented many positive changes and all staff were on board and working hard. The staff that were there in the 3 years after the level 4 designation were very good teachers and could prove it with data, but after meeting with Mitchell Chester that last year, it was obvious to me that no matter what we did, he had no intention of exiting the school. He was arrogant, rude and not interested in looking at our work. We had received rave reviews from the states own panel of evaluators, and he showed absolutely no interest in any of this information. I bid out as soon as possible because I suspected from his attitude that he would declare it level 5 anyway, despite the data... and he did. How can any of the states evaluations be considered fair after that?

Anonymous said...

I'm personally waiting for the belly flop of this years scores to come out in the fall. Removing that staff was a horrible move, the students are suffering and most parents are extremely unhappy. It's very sad that this is no longer about New Bedford's children (the future of our city) but is instead about power and politics. I hope i have a front row seat to see the egg on their faces! Last year's scores will be impossible to top with a new and VERY inexperienced staff.

Anonymous said...

Hegemonic behavior.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fay implementing positive changes are you kidding he was very mean to some people,you must of hung out at the office with the group.

Anonymous said...

^ Please! Obviously you have an ax to grind seeing as though you responded to something that had nothing to do with the original post. It was about a school that was unfairly brought to slaughter so that others could come out as victors. Since you mentioned Mr. Fay I'll continue on that subject. I was someone who worked for Mr. Fay while he was at Parker and I honestly have never seen anyone work as hard as he did to help all of us come together and create an effective team, which he did. By you making such rude comments only adds to the perception of negativity that is connected to the school that we all loved and never wanted to leave. Unfortunately, it was fear of not being able to provide for our families that we had to make such a hard choice. Shame on you....

Anonymous said...

It is illogical when trying to comprehend what happened to the Parker students. The data absolutely showed a strong upswing. The students were becoming scholars, this was evident not just in the test scores there were additional data points that vividly pointed to positive growth; negative behavior incidents dropped, community engagement had risen, parent involvement had risen, vertical teaming went up, data/progress monitoring was used on a weekly basis to drive instruction and students' reports of enjoying school was higher than past records. These markers are significant determinations for continued positive change. The commissioner and the NB administration of course had all these data points in addition to the testing data. Politics and high ranking “educators” were the basis of the level 5 designation, not the overwhelming positive data. To capitalize of personal agendas children had to become the victims. Such a crime….such a crime.
I also want to use this forum to apologize to the children and community of Parker School. I should have done more to have my voice heard. It was clear months before the designation that Parker was going level 5, it was apparent Mr. Mitchell, Mrs. Durkin, the Mayor, and The School Committee were ignoring the evidence for their own personal agenda AND it was clear the children would be the casualties.
I did attempt to speak through the correct channels, aka the 1 scheduled opportunity to ask questions and speak with the all parties mentioned above. However, when I was called upon to for my first question regarding the data I was told: I am not here to take questions I am here for answers (a very close paraphrase of Mr. Mitchell’s response). In that moment I knew the students were doomed. I choose to not take on or “fight” Mr. Mitchell, Mrs. Durkin, the Mayor, and The School Committee and I was wrong not too. I should have thought about the children whose voices were not being heard. The children who deserved to be represented and dignified and I choose not to. All of the teachers have moved on with their careers, Administration have all moved on, The Mayor and school committee have all moved on Mr. Mitchell has moved on, Dr. Durkin has continued with her personal agenda and I have moved on WHILE the children of Parker School have received instability, chaos, and a subpar education. Research shows that the likelihood for those children to rebound from this is low. In other words they will not /did not move on. They will stay stagnant and fall more behind. I envisioned this 2 years ago yet did not fight for the children. It is this guilt that keeps me up at night. I am sorry I did not do more.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say but PARCC will deliver the final blow to most NBPS. Watch, wait, and see.

Anonymous said...

I wish Durkin , the Mayor and the school committee possessed your love and devotion towards the NB students. We all know that they are in it for their own personal agendas. It's a shame that when she leaves the NB schools in chaos, the teachers will be the ones who have to pick up the pieces. We are here for our kids. Dr. Durkin is here to receive her ridiculous pay check.

Anonymous said...

I previously wrote this post used the incorrect wording.

Can you please delete that post and use this one instead? However, it is important to note that Mr. Fay's predecessor is the one most people view as running the school into the ground.

Mr. Fay is a man of integrity. I am glad to have had the chance at least once in my career to work with someone like him. He stood firm in his convictions and never used the students and staff as pawns to promote his career or agenda. I always felt like his decisions were made based on what was best for the children of the school. He had a remarkable ability to work with the most difficult parents who distrusted the educational establishment. Even more amazingly, he defended the work of his hardworking staff from the naysayers bent on invalidating reports of increased student achievement. There were no gotcha moments with Mr. Fay. You always knew where you stood and he always made his expectations clear. When I think of my time working for Mr. Fay, I think of a popular phrase from a medical drama I watch where the doctor says before beginning surgery, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.” While I am not some fancy pants surgeon, I always felt like my work and the work of my fellow teachers was the difference between success and a life of unfulfilled potential for our students. Mr. Fay inspired that kind of pride in his workers. I wish I could say the same about his successor but I cannot. His successor was wasteful with both resources and time. The interesting thing is when she was first announced as our principal, we were filled with hope that she would help us continue the work we started with Mr. Fay. How soon our hopes were dashed! Data meetings with her often went cancelled and when they did occur meetings often were used to discuss weekend plans or cosmetics. PRIDE Time (the school-wide reading intervention) was a complete and utter failure. It was too overarching and she did not have the support staff needed to implement it. Mind you, the staff under Mr. Fay’s guidance had more success making sure struggling students got the intervention they needed. He was more mindful of the limitations and knew how to turn them into assets rather than liabilities. This often meant teachers using prep time to work with struggling learners. In addition, teachers also volunteered to have one after school period every Tuesday for remediation. The teachers did it with little complaint and fanfare. Also, Mr. Fay’s successor did not have a good understanding of scheduling and could not guide support staff like SPED tutors to create schedules conducive for co-teaching and in-class reading/math support. Finally, she was wasteful of resources that had been provided to the school under Mr. Fay’s watch. A three-year license for My Virtual Reading Coach was purchased specifically for Parker at the tune of $30,000 but the new principal did not encourage its use and it was barely used by new staffers. If you learn anything from what I have written it is this; effective leadership can produce positive change. I have no confidence in Mr. Fay’s successor to do this. I only hope that that the additional hours, young staff, and increased community support pick up the slack for her inadequacies.

Darryl Murphy said...

I was at Parker for two of Fay’s three years. I left for a position in another school because it suited me, not because of Paul. He is my standard to judge all principals by since the first day I met him. He was the most organized man I ever met and smart as a whip. He was a realist who saw the situation on the ground and could envision what Parker should be able to become. He was able to draw information from data I had no chance of seeing. Numbers were his language, but he was pretty darn good at relating to people too. I never saw him lose his cool or get flustered no matter the situation the parent, student, or staff member brought to him. I felt he was really going to get Parker on the right path. When he retired or was replaced, I don’t know the details, the future of that school was definitely in jeopardy. He had a fantastic work ethic and brought out the best in a great staff. I miss Parker and that group. The teachers there were dedicated and great. Slamming him is garbage.