Tuesday, March 19, 2013

From the Comment Section: The Daily Item

In the March 18th edition of The Daily Item an article about Lynn's potential for to turn the corner and become a thriving city sparked discussion in the comment section about the actual feasibility of this concept. In response to one commenter who noted that people from outside the city avoid Lynn in part because of its poor schools, user RyansTake left the following remark:

"When you're only asking people from out of town who aren't coming in, you're not asking the people from who *are* coming in... which means you're not getting the feedback on the stuff that actually works or is being done well. I'm interested in Lynn because it's a beautiful community with a lot of value, and has a real up-and-coming sense to it.
For a lot of people who 'aren't interested' in Lynn, it's because of things from the past and misconceptions, a lot of them dramatically divorced from reality. Trying to change their minds may be futile, so focus on the people who are interested... and maybe when so many of the convincible people find the great value of the things to do and places to live in Lynn, they'll convince their skeptical friends of its positives. If not, well... as long as Lynn's doing great, who cares what they think? There are always naysayers.
Speaking of misconceptions.... have you seen the schools in New Bedford, Fall River, Lawrence or even Salem? Lynn has plenty of room to improve with its schools, but any family willing and able to put the time into making sure their kid does their homework will have great success with the Lynn school system. I'm not sure the same can be said of, say, Lawrence or New Bedford.
Instead of drumming to the beat of "Lynn's schools suck," let's actually look at the facts.... It's 4 year graduation rate is 20 points higher than New Bedford's [Editor' Note: Lynn's 4 year graduation rate is 18.7 points higher than New Bedford's] and about 7 points lower than Beverly's [Editor's Note: This statement is accurate].
What's that say? There's room for improvement, but clearly Lynn is doing some things right. The bottom line: Families with parents involved in their child's education are graduating their students in Lynn, and a lot of those students are doing very well. It's the (unfortunately) broken families that Lynn isn't reaching, but no school in America is reaching them in great abundance -- not even charters, which force out underperforming students at unbelievably high rates, and unlike public schools, don't have to count them in their 4-year graduation rate.
Lynn just has a lot more of these families than, say, Lynnfield. Aside from that, Lynn's schools are in some ways doing better than they should, given what the socioeconomic data tells us.So, again, there's value here for many young professionals looking for a place to live, even if they have or are thinking of having kids who will need to go to schools."

Are people too quick to point to Lynn's so-called "poor schools" as the reason it remains undesirable to many outside the city? Are some of the perceptions surrounding LPS unwarranted?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lynn's Lower Grades Still Seeing Increasing Enrollment Numbers

Last year, we looked at enrollment figures at the lower grades levels (Pre-K through Grade 3) for the 2011-12 school year which indicated that the lower grade levels in Lynn were seeing considerable increases in enrollment numbers for these grades. Here is data from the current school year.

K10361120110212351295  (+60)
111091156121712281364  (+136)
210511075112311821195  (+13)
310681017105110631161  (+98)

Enrollment data for the 2012-13 school year still shows that Lynn is seeing increasing numbers in the lower grades. The first grade saw the biggest increase from the previous year with 136 more students in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. Other school districts similar to Lynn are also seeing substantial increases in enrollment at the lower grade levels. Fall River, for example, saw a 15% increase in the number of kindergarten students from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

Lynn's kindergarten enrollment has increased 25% since the 08-09 school year. 

Kindergarten enrollment figures, however, vary at the individual school level with Cobbet enrolling the most kindergarten students (113) and Fallon the least (2).

Last year we also looked at how the enrollment totals for Lynn's most populated schools changed considerably from school year 10-11 to school year 11-12. The opening of the Washington STEM School this year was initiated, in part, to hopefully curb some of the overcrowding at three of these schools (Connery, Harrington, and Cobbet).

Cobbet682607 (-75)
Connery 606592 (-14)
Ford605617 (+12)
Harrington639595 (-44)
Ingalls639655 (+16)

Breed12571200 (-57)

Here we see that those three schools targeted in terms of overcrowding reduction have decreased enrollment figures from the previous year. Cobbet saw the largest drop in student enrollment with 75 less students from 2011-12. More significantly, the number of schools with kindergarten enrollments over 100 has decreased from 5 in 2011-12 (Cobbet, Connery, Ford Harrington, and Ingalls) to 3 in 2012-13 (Cobbet, Connery and Ford). Harrington, for example, has 41 fewer kindergarten students than the previous year bringing its enrollment at this grade level down from 139 to 98. Ford was the only one of the elementary schools listed here which saw an increase in the number of kindergarten students (+5). Additionally, though not specifically targeted in terms of enrollment reduction, Breed Middle School also saw a drop in student enrollment. On the other hand, both Ingalls, which interestingly saw a 24% decrease in kindergarten enrollment, and Ford continued to see their overall enrollment numbers increase.

Overall, the Lynn Public School District currently has an enrollment of 14,139 students, an increase of 408 students from the previous.

*All Data Taken from: www.doe.mass.edu

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lynn's 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency Rate in Context: Urban Districts & the North Shore

Here we looked at Lynn's 3rd grade reading proficiency rates both over and at the individual school level on the 2012 exam. Now let's look at a comparison of 3rd grade reading proficiency rates in the ten urban Commissioner's Districts.

Below is table reporting the reading proficiency rates for the urban districts on the 2012 exam.

Springfield had the highest proficiency rate among this group (50%) while Holyoke had the lowest (20%).

Because student populations change each school year in terms of both demographics and class size, it is important to look at these numbers over time as well. Below is a table which looks at 3rd grade reading proficiency rates for these same districts from 2010 through 2012.
Over the past 3 years, Holyoke has consistently had the lowest 3rd grade reading proficiency rates with a range of 20 - 25%. Only two of the ten districts had reading proficiency rates of at least 50% over the past few years: New Bedford in 2010 and Springfield in 2012.

The other comparison that some consider when gauging a particular district's academic performance is among other communities in the district's general area. Below is a comparison of Lynn's 3rd grade reading proficiency rate on the 2012 exam compared to surrounding towns and cities.
Lynn and Salem have the two lowest proficiency rates among these school districts while Lynnfield and Marblehead have the highest. Interestingly, some individual Lynn schools had proficiency rates that were on par with surrounding communities. Aborn, for example, had a reading proficiency rate similar to the Danvers Public School District while Sisson's was comparable to Swampscott's overall proficiency rate at this level.

*All Data Taken from: www.doe.mass.edu

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Lynn 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency Rates

Last year, Holyoke received a $100,000 grant in order to fund a literacy initiative they are calling "Reading is Power: Holyoke Can Do It." The purpose of the initiative is to increase 3rd grade reading proficiency rates in Holyoke to 85% by the year 2014. As of the 2012 MCAS exam, 20% of 3rd graders in Holyoke were proficient in reading.

In Lynn, 41% of 3rd graders were proficient or advanced on the 2012 MCAS exam. Below is a table which looks at Lynn's 3rd grade reading proficiency rates from 2005 to 2012.

Reading proficiency rates at the individual school level varied in 2012.

Five elementary schools in Lynn had proficiency rates over 50%: Aborn, Hood, Lincoln-Thomson, Shoemaker, and Sisson. Proficiency rates at the schools ranged from 25% to 76%. 

*All Data Taken from: www.doe.mass.edu