MCAS Results Released

Results from Massachusetts’ statewide standardized tests, the MCAS (short for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System), were released last week. The Boston Globe summarized the results:

Nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts public schools are falling short of performance targets under the state’s new evaluation system, even as struggling urban districts achieve solid gains, state officials reported Wednesday.

In Boston, as well as other city districts, results on the standardized tests were mixed. Scores among 10th-graders rose to new heights. But in the lower grades, results were largely stagnant, and in a number of cases dropped.

Statewide, about 1,000 of nearly 1,600 public schools did not meet the new targets on the standardized tests this year, ­either for “high-needs” students, such as those with disabilities or from low-income families, or for the student body as a whole.

Here at City Connects, we are especially proud of four of our Springfield Public Schools–these ” turnaround” schools made double-digit gains in scores over the last two years: Homer Street, Zanettti, Brookings, and Gerena.

Our evaluation shows that students in City Connects schools outperform their Boston peers in middle school and achieve close to state proficiency levels in both English and Math MCAS. After leaving a City Connects school at the end of grade 5, significant long-term effects continue through eighth grade. Learn more about our impact on MCAS scores here.

For more information:

City Connects Springfield Update

Springfield EducatorCity Connects’ work in Springfield Public Schools (SPS) was featured in the Spring 2012 issue  [pdf] of the Springfield Educator. The conclusion of this school year marks the first year of City Connects’ implementation in six transformation (Level 4) SPS elementary schools. Next year, three SPS Level 4 middle schools will also be implementing City Connects.

The article comes on the heels of the first-ever gathering of community partners working with SPS, held on May 9. Convened at Springfield College, a partner with SPS and City Connects, the meeting marked the official launch of the Springfield “Wraparound Zone” Initiative. Wraparound Zones are an effort  funded through the state’s Race to the Top grant designed to build district capacity to systematically address students’ non-academic barriers to learning.

Springfield Community Meeting
Julie Donovan and Dr. Ingram at the Springfield Public Schools Wraparound Zone launch May 9.

Julie Donovan, the City Connects Program Manager in Springfield, welcomed more than 85 community partners to the meeting. Dr. Alan Ingram, Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, opened the day by discussing the importance of the connection between home and school.

“Twenty-six thousand students in our schools live in poverty. Morally, we can’t ignore it. Poor children can do well in school with the right supports,” Dr. Ingram said. Students only spend a small part of their day in the classroom, he said, so we can’t turn around schools by only looking inside the classroom. The solution is to bring fragmented parts of the community together to work on behalf of children.

City Connects in the Boston Globe

Over the weekend, the Boston Globe ran a story about the challenges facing school districts in Massachusetts’ “Gateway Cities,” 24 former industrial cities across the state, in establishing partnerships with nonprofits providing services or funding to schools. The article,”Smaller Mass. cities seek non-profit to bolster schools,” reported that almost 75% of the 40 turnaround schools named by the state since 2010 have been in outlying cities, but for a host of reasons, the bulk of partnerships seem to be concentrated in more populated urban areas like Boston.

This article comes on the heels of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed 2013 budget, which includes funding for his “Gateway Cities Education Agenda,” an initiative he announced in November. The agenda comprises five strategies aiming to close the achievement gap, including a student support effort to be funded by a proposed $3.6 million. The Governor proposed creation of Student Support Councils in Gateway City schools and hiring Student Support Counselors to provide comprehensive services to students and their families.

City Connects is currently working with two Gateway Cities: Springfield, MA, which has City Connects in its turnaround elementary schools, and Lynn, MA, who recently engaged in a planning period with City Connects. From the article:

Already, a movement is taking root among some nonprofits to look beyond Boston. ACCESS, which provides college financial aid advice to middle and high school students, has expanded to Springfield. So has City Connects, an organization at Boston College that puts counselors in local schools to help connect students and their families to a variety of programs.

For more information:

2011 MCAS Results Released

Today, the results of the 2011 statewide standardized tests, MCAS, were announced. You can see full results and search for scores among school districts across the state here. While there is still room for improvement, the good news is that scores increased at 16 of the 35 underperforming schools across Massachusetts.

Congratulations to the many City Connects schools in Boston and Springfield who saw improvements in the number of students scoring proficient or advanced–check out a Boston Globe graphic here.

For more information:

City Connects Expands: Six Springfield, Mass., Schools to Implement Optimized Student Support Model

City Connects is expanding to six turnaround elementary/K-8 schools in Springfield, Mass., for the 2011-12 academic year. This marks City Connects’ first expansion outside of Boston since its inception a decade ago. Through its Race to the Top allocation, Springfield Public Schools chose us as a partner to provide student support in its transformation elementary and K‐8 schools, and we are thrilled that the school year will soon be underway! Read the release (pdf) on our website here.

Back-to-School by the Numbers

Over on the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, Valerie Strauss has compiled a bunch of interesting data pertaining to back-to-school. A few highlights:

  • 55.5 million: Number of students predicted to be enrolled in pre-k through grade 12 this fall
  • 43%: Percentage of students (elementary through high school) who belonged to a minority population in 2009
  • 23%: Percentage students (elementary though high school) who had at least one foreign-born parent in 2009
  • 11.2 million: Number of children (age 5-17) who spoke a language other than English at home in 2009
  • 31.3 million: Average number of children participating each month in the National School Lunch Program in 2009

Here’s a look at City Connects by the numbers at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year:

  • 21: Total number of City Connects schools. We’ll be expanding beyond Boston for the first time, where we’ll be in 15 schools, to serve 6 turnaround elementary schools in Springfield, Mass.
  • 7,500: Using numbers from the 2010-11 school year, we project that we’ll be reaching about 7,500 students total in Boston and Springfield, which is roughly 20% of each district’s total elementary enrollment.
  • 5: Number of days our School Site Coordinators are spending at our annual summer professional development institute, which is underway now!

The first day back to school in (most) Boston elementary schools is Thursday, Sept. 8; Springfield public elementary schools open Monday, Aug. 29. We’re excited for this school year to get underway!

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