Friday, April 2, 2010

Education Committee Workshop 4/1/10

April 1st, the BOA's Education Committee (I am a member) met and held a Workshop (open to public but usually no public testimony heard) to get a briefing from NHPS on "School Change."  Asst. Superintendent for Portfolio and Performance Management, Garth Harries and NHPS COO, Will Clark briefed the committee and answered questions.  While the school district has held many meetings to inform the community, answer questions, and get input, BOE staff had not formally chatted with BOA members in awhile on the subject of their efforts on implementing "School Change."  This was a good opportunity for BOA members to hear from Harries and Clark and to have a dialogue.  The BOA's main oversight role over the BOE is the annual appropriation of operating funds.  However, many Aldermen have heard from their constituents that in addition and in conjunction with their financial oversight that it would be great to get updates and check the progress of the reform/change initiatives.

The briefing included sharing the main goals of School Change: close the performance gap of New Haven students and the rest of the State in 5 yrs, cut the drop-out rate in half, and ensure every graduate has the academic ability and financial resources to attend and succeed in college.  There are three major strategies to achieve these goals: Community, Talent (teachers & administrators), and having a "Portfolio of Schools."  This "Portfolio" idea comes from the realization that a completely centralized, district-wide management is not appropriate for the diversity of the City's many schools.  The schools are thus evaluated individually and "graded" into three Tiers.  This "tiering" is accomplished with new and developing assessment criteria which initially relies heavily on test performance (because that's what has been emphasized by the State & Fed) BUT also looks at individual student growth measured against the student's peer group.  The available data has been plotted and from this chart seven schools have been tiered in as pilot schools to begin school change.  Edgewood and Davis are Tier 1, Daniels & King Robinson are Tier 2, Barnard is a Tier 3 (Improvement), and Brennan-Rogers and Urban Youth are Tier 3 (Turnaround) schools.  The Principals from these schools were also introduced and provided a brief introduction to their plans and hopes.  The tiering will differentiate the level of Autonomy and Accountability Continuum.  These pilot schools are making their new management plans to be submitted for approval by the BOE and the district by early May.  Curriculum, Assessment, Governance & Policies, Behavior & School Culture, External Partnerships, Professional Development, Staffing, School Calendar and Schedule, and Budget are the main components that each school will analyze and incorporate into their reform/change plan.

This is obviously a very brief summary of School Change.  I have attended many meetings and briefings so far, and I'd be happy to answer any and all questions, please call or email.  With vested interest and your interests in mind, I will be active in the oversight and collaboration required to help implement School Change that will truly benefit our kids.

Please find a lot of information including the Grading ("Bubble") Charts, documentations, survey results, printed versions of School Change presentations, etc. on the School Change website: Main Page and Documents/Charts Page.

NHPS Plot ("Bubble") Chart (at or above proficient)
NHPS Plot ("Bubble") Chart (at or above goal)