Monday, January 30, 2012

Lynn Among Districts Not Meeting Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives

Per Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is required to establish annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) for English language acquisition and the academic achievement of limited English proficiency (LEP) students. Title III, also called the 'English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act', has a number of purposes which include: 
  • to help ensure that children who are limited English proficient, including immigrant children and youth, attain English proficiency, develop high levels of academic attainment in English, and meet the same challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards as all children are expected to meet
  • to assist all limited English proficient children, including immigrant children and youth, to achieve at high levels in the core academic subjects so that those children can meet the same challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards as all children are expected to meet
  • to promote parental and community participation in language instruction educational programs for parents and communities of limited English proficient children
  • to hold State educational agencies, local education agencies, and schools accountable for increases in English proficiency and core academic content of limited English proficient children by requiring - (A) demonstrated improvements in the English proficiency of limited English proficient children each fiscal year; and (B) adequate yearly progress for limited English proficient children and youth.

 In Massachusetts, AMAOs are established for LEP students in grades K-12 in three categories: 

(1) Progress toward English language proficiency. The Massachusetts goal for 2011 was for 61% of LEP students to make progress toward proficiency.
(2) Attainment of English language proficiency defined as scoring at the midpoint of Level 4 or above on the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA) test. The MEPA tests LEP students' proficiency in reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking production. Individual attainment targets were determined for each district based on its students' number of years in Massachusetts
(3) Adequate Yearly Progress of the LEP subgroup on the MCAS exam in both English language arts and mathematics. 

On January 30, 2012, the Massachusetts DESE released a summary of AMAO data for LEP students in public school districts receiving Title III funds. In order to to be eligible to receive Title III funding, a district or consortium of schools/districts must enroll more than 100 LEP students. It should be noted that under this section of NCLB, schools/districts are required to notify parents of its failure on the AMAOs within 30 days. Of the 58 public /charter school districts receiving Title III funds, 22 did not meet the target goal of 61% of LEP students making progress toward proficiency. Districts not achieving this goal include Boston, Brockton, Lynn, Springfield, Fall River and Taunton. Twenty districts (out of 58) did not meet their targets for the percentage of students actually attaining English language proficiency; Lynn once again is included on this list along with Salem, Metheun, and Lawrence. Finally, out of 51 districts, only seven made AYP in English Language Arts  in the LEP student subgroup (Arlington, Barnstable, Brookline, Clinton, Lawrence Family Development Charter, Lexington, and Lowell Community Charter). Similarly only seven (out of 52) districts made AYP in in math for this group (Arlington, Barnstable, Brookline, Lawrence Family Development Charter, Lexington, Lowell Community Charter, and Westborough). 

In 2011, Lynn, a district with nearly 20% LEP students, did not meet any of its established AMAOs. Lynn missed the progress target (61%) by one percentage point as 60% of Lynn's LEP students made progress toward proficiency. In terms of attainment, the Lynn missed reaching its target by four percentage points (target: 36%; actual 32%). Before last year, however, the city did meet a minimum of one of its goals related to Title III dating back to  at least 2005. Lynn met its attainment goal in  2005 and 2010, its progress and attainment goals in 2006 and 2009 and its progress, attainment and math AYP goals in 2007. Although some question the practice of simply trying to get students proficient in English as quickly as possible, focusing on students with limited English skills is still essential particularly in a city like Lynn which has been charged with educating such a large population of these students.

*To view the full AMAO report:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lynn School Committee Meeting 1/26/12

The next Lynn School Committee meeting  is scheduled for Thursday January 26, 2012 at 7pm. SC meetings take place at 90 Commercial Street

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lynn School Committee Meeting 1/12/12

The first Lynn School Committee meeting of the new year is scheduled for Thursday January 12, 2012 at 7pm. SC meetings take place at 90 Commercial Street. Some important things on tonight's agenda include: 

  • Innovation School Prospectus - Juli Ierardi 
  • A presentation on the Wraparound Zone Initiative
  • Redistricting - Dave Hegan
  • Financial Report - LVTI Adult Literacy Program
  • Enrollment Report - January 1, 2012

*To see the full agenda, visit:,%202012.pdf

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Comparing Massachusetts's Urban Districts

In a previous post about school choice in Lynn, I pointed out that a number of school committee members keep reiterating that among similar districts Lynn is ranked first. So what are those other districts and how does Lynn compare in terms of demographics and (multiple) educational outcomes? Per the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), ten districts combine to form a cohort known as the Commissioner's Districts. These districts are: Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester. The urban districts are linked based on the following criteria:
  • 10,000 or more students (Holyoke is an exception)
  • Highest poverty and subgroup enrollment in the state
  • Three or more schools in Corrective Action or Restructuring in the aggregate for ELA, math or both
  • In Corrective Action either in the aggregate or for subgroups as a district
In terms of the populations of some key subgroups, here is how the cities compare (**ELL = English Language Learner; LEP = Limited English Proficiency; SPED = Special Education). This data was taken from the 2010-11 school year.

Fall River 76.6%23.8%5.4%20.0%
New Bedford71.2%21.4%4.1%19.8%

Next, we compare the districts with regard to their dropout and graduation rates as well as their average number of school absences and overall attendance rate. The district with the best statistic in each category  (Worcester) is highlighted in red. Lynn ranked fourth among these districts in the dropout rate category  and third in the graduation rate. Dropout and graduation rates are from 2009-10 while school absence and attendance information is from 2010-11 (the most recent for each).

Drop out RateGraduation RateAvg. # AbsencesAttendance Rate
Fall River 4.9%66.2%14.491.4%
New Bedford8.1%53.5%12.892.3%

Listed next are the percentage of students achieving proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) and math on the 2011 MCAS exam. Also highlighted in red is the district with the highest percentage in each category (Lynn); Worcester was a close second in each category.

Fall River 49%37%
New Bedford45%37%

Finally, what do high school students in these urban districts plan to do after graduation? Listed below are four options though the DESE also tracks data in three other categories ('unknown,' 'other,' 'other post secondary). This data is from 2009-10. In that year, Lynn had the highest percentage of students join the military.

4yr Public/Private2yr Public/PrivateMilitary Work
Fall River 29%52%2%15%
New Bedford44%41%4%7%

**All Data Taken From:

This Day in History: January 11

-Muhammad leads an army of 10,000 to conquer Mecca, 630

-Alexander Hamilton, first United States Secretary of Treasury, is born, 1755

-The Michigan Territory is created, 1805

-Insulin is first used to treat diabetes in a human patient, 1922

-Amelia Earhart becomes the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California, 1935

-East Pakistan renames itself Bangladesh, 1972

-Holiday: Independence Resistance Day (Morocco)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Urban Districts Decline in 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency; Lynn Improves Slightly

The blog Eye on Early Education focuses on the goals of ensuring that children in Massachusetts have access to high-quality early education and that they become proficient readers by the end of the third grade. Proficiency in 3rd grade reading has been established as a huge indicator of the likelihood of graduating from high school.  In September 2010, the blog reported that proficiency rates on the 3rd grade reading MCAS exam were up from 2009 in 10 urban districts in the state; increases varied from two percentage points to fifteen percentage points. Unfortunately, the increases seen in 2010 did not continue in 2011 in all of the urban districts.

Fall River 35%37%40%
New Bedford38%53%45%

Only three urban districts continued to see an increase in 3rd grade reading proficiency rates in 2011 (highlighted in teal). Increases for the three districts that did improve in 2011 were minimal ranging from only one to three percentage points.

In Lynn, some elementary schools saw huge gains in 3rd grade reading proficiency rates while others decreased. Highlighted in teal here are the Lynn elementary schools that saw increases in the percentage of students who scored proficient or higher on the 3rd grade reading exam from 2010 to 2011. Increases ranged from four to eighteen percentage points. Three schools (Ford, Aborn, and Sisson) either met or exceeded the state average for this particular exam while Connery, a Level 4 school, increased from a 9% proficiency rate in 2009 to a 37% proficiency rate in 2011. Though Sisson did decline in its 3rd grade proficiency rate, the school still performed better than the state average.

Hood 35%30%48%
Lynn Woods77%54%52%
Sewell Anderson38%63%43%

While Lynn as a whole is increasing in terms of 3rd grade proficiency rates, there is always room for improvement. This particularly true as there seems to be an achievement gap at this level between certain subgroups in the city such as male/female (41% proficient vs. 52%) and low income/non-low income (43% versus 62%) among others. As proficiency in reading in the 3rd grade has important implications for future academic success, improving and increasing students' literacy skills is essential to raising educational achievement in Lynn and other urban districts.

**Data Taken from: