First Schools Named in School Change Campaign

For Immediate Release
March 15, 2010
Mayor, Superintendent Announce Grading of First Seven Schools in Nationally Recognized School Change Initiative
(NEW HAVEN)-- Today, Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo announced the tiering of seven New Haven Public Schools, a groundbreaking stage in the City’s nationally recognized School Change Initiative. The schools were announced as follows:

  • Tier I:  Davis Street and Edgewood Schools
  • Tier II: John C. Daniels and King-Robinson Schools
  • Tier III:  Katherine Brennan, Urban Youth Middle School and Barnard Environmental Magnet

“The core idea of our portfolio of schools is to recognize that our individual schools are the most important part of our school system – that it is in our classrooms and school buildings that students learn.  We need to create ways for our individual schools to succeed – and we need to be clear together about whether and the ways schools are succeeding.  Today, we announce the 7 schools and next fall, we will tier all 47,” said Mayo
“Today’s announcement represents a very important next step in School Change,” said DeStefano. “Today we connected real names, faces and student lives to the aggressive goals and vision we have for New Haven Public Schools. Today we begin to change the lives of young people in seven of our schools and this is only the beginning. We know that School Change is the single most important economic development, crime prevention and community building tool for our community and we intend to see it through so that all of the 22,000 students in our district are prepared for college and for life.”
Three weeks ago, the board of education approved a set of criteria by which to evaluate schools.  These criteria are
Student Progress:
-Student growth on the CMTs, relative to other students with similar academic histories (academic peers) in the district
Student Performance:
-Percent of students scoring Proficient and above and Goal and above on standardized test
Student Engagement/ School Environment:
-Attendance Rate
-TCRS (Teacher Child Rating Scale) - Percent of students in K -5th grades rated as competent or highly competent on three Teacher Child Rating Scale indicators: Behavior Control, Task Orientation, and Peer Social Skills
Qualitative Factors:
-Quality of school leadership team
-Readiness of school team to engage in collaborative planning
-Community and other resources available to support school-level planning efforts
“While other school districts have implemented models for grading schools, our model is unique in terms of the matrix developed to weigh the various characteristics of a high performing school, effective curriculum and successful staff and leadership,” said DeStefano. “Our priorities are in line with those echoed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama as they make a call for real school reform nationwide.”
Tier I schools are considered to be consistently high performing schools while Tier II schools are those that have experienced mixed or inconsistent performance outcomes. Tier III schools are those that are consistently low performing and require the greatest level of interventions and external supports.
“Our goal is to ensure that each and every school improves.  It is my hope and expectation that every school, in each pilot tier and those that won’t be tiered until next fall, all improve the ways that they are working with students.  We tier schools not to blame certain people and celebrate others – we tier schools so that we can all, inside and outside of schools, assess what is needed and focus on the ways to improve student results,” said Mayo. “We’ve come a long way but now through tiering we will make sure that each of our schools has a model and the appropriate resources to achieve its specific goals.”
Through the spring, each of the seven schools announced today will develop an individual plan to increase student performance and achieve improved outcomes. Schools will have different levels of flexibility based on their tiers but will have the opportunity to change aspects of:  curriculum, assessment, governance & policies, behavior & school culture, external partnerships,  professional development, staffing, calendar & schedule and budgets.
Tier I and Tier II schools will have the most flexibility to determine what their school improvement plans will look like and what types of changes will work best for their school. In Tier I schools, plan design and management decisions will be led by a school-based team with central office input and sign-off on school changes. Meanwhile, Tier II schools will allow for plan design and management decisions to be led by a school-based team with central office review and required approval of their full plan.
Per the District’s contract with the New Haven Federation of Teachers, in Tier I & II schools principals and staff can vote to change work rules (e.g. prep periods, assignments, etc.) at any time so long as 75% of staff votes to make changes, with the approval of the Superintendent and the union.
However, while the staff and leadership of Tier III schools will also participate in finalizing the details of their improvement plans, they will need to provide a greater level of background, rationale and accountability for changes they seek.  Tier III – Improvement schools will provide for plan design and management decisions to be made collaboratively by central office and a school based team, with central office review and approval of the full plan.
There will be significant changes to the work rules at Barnard Environmental Magnet starting next fall.  These changes will allow for increased opportunities to collaborate with teachers and develop positive relationships with students. Some work rule changes include:
-Teachers must participate in a 1 hour daily collaboration period with colleagues
-Teachers must eat lunch with their students
-Teachers must conduct advisory groups for students in grades 6-8
-Teachers must develop and collaborate on student portfolios to measure student growth using multiple data points – these portfolios will be removed monthly.  The specific protocol to review portfolios will be developed by teachers and administrators at Barnard Environmental School. 
Administrators, teachers, parents and other community members will be invited to participate in the development of a school improvement plan for Barnard which will incorporate these work rule changes.
Tier III – Turnaround schools will experience complete redesign with management decisions made collaboratively by central office, a school based team and potentially a third (such as a charter school operator), with central office review and approval of the full school plan.
At Tier III Turnaround schools, all teachers interested in maintaining their work at the school must reapply for their positions. Those teachers who are not rehired at Brennan will be guaranteed a placement elsewhere in the district.  This year, Urban Youth Middle School, as a Tier III Turnaround School, will be operated by DOMUS, a charter partner while Katherine Brennan will be reconstituted but will continue to be operated by New Haven Public Schools.
The work rule and compensation changes at Katherine Brennan will include:
-To enable more learning time, the district will implement a lengthened school day for both teachers and students
·         Up to 8 hours per day for students
·         Up to 8 ½ hours per day for teachers
-Teachers will be expected to collaborate up to one hour per day to address student needs in:
·         Data Team Meetings
·         Grade Level Meetings
·         IEP Meetings
-Change in organizational structure so teachers spend more time building relationships with their students
·         Meeting students at the buses
·         Eating lunch with the students
·         Advisory Periods
-To develop teacher capacity and team building around the visions of the school we will implement a lengthened school year
·         10 days of professional development before the school year begins
·         2 additional days during the school year
·         2 days of reflection at the end of the school year
·         Up to 2 hours of weekly professional development
We are in discussion with Domus, a social services provider from Stamford CT that operates two charter schools for vulnerable students.  The DOMUS Trailblazer Academy in Stamford services middle school students, like Urban Youth Middle.  The academic gains seen by Trailblazer students, given where they start, eclipses those of other middle schools in Stamford, and of other high performing charter schools around the state. We are still finalizing the details of our management arrangement, we are together committed to providing a dramatically different learning environment for student of Urban Youth Middle. 
“This is a wonderful opportunity  not only for the students currently attending Urban Youth Middle School, but this decision will also create an additional resource for the district to service vulnerable students,” said Mayo.
Work rule changes at the new Domus Middle School, will include:
•A longer school day and year, including 8 hours of work for teachers and 190 days of instruction
•Working in collaboration with DOMUS’s intensive family support and advocacy model, which works intensely with families to ensure students are ready and available to learn in the classroom.
•A distributed leadership model in the school, where all staff participate in the management of the school, and with frequent collegial and developmental conversations among staff
Parents, teachers, administrators and students of tiered schools will all be given the opportunity to participate in the planning and execution of school change in their buildings and school community.
Click here to view the plot chart used to determine school placement.