Board of Education Releases New School Tiering

January 28, 2013
Abbe Smith
NHPS Director of Communications
View the presentation here.
Increasing and decreasing tiers are closely matched, with 6 schools increasing tiers and 5 schools decreasing tiers, but overall results reflect improvement of district
A majority of New Haven Public Schools showed improvement last year in student achievement and school climate, with six schools advancing to a higher performance designation. The news was announced Monday as part of the district’s presentation to the Board of Education on school tiering, the annual process in New Haven’s school reform effort by which schools are categorized and ranked according to the student performance.
This year, based on measures that include student performance on standardized tests and results from school learning climate surveys, as well as high school graduation rates and college persistence rates, the district will see five K-8 schools and one high school move up in the tiering. The district also saw four K-8 schools and one high school slip back into a lower tier. The movement in both directions reflects the increasing standards as overall district results improve, as well as the complex and difficult task of School Change and the ongoing challenge of finding ways to continue improving schools.
“Tiering is important because it allows us to step back and assess how much progress we are making toward our School Change goals,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo. “This year we saw a major increase across the district in graduation rates and growth in student achievement at twice the rate of the state, which shows we are heading in the right direction. Tiering allows us to focus efforts on schools that are heading in the wrong direction.”
Tier I schools are those with consistently high student performance, Tier II are schools with average or mixed performance, and Tier III schools are those with low student performance. Tiering is the basis for choosing schools to undergo turnaround, the intensive process aimed at accelerating school improvement. No decisions have been made at this time about school turnaround for the 2013-14 school year.
“Annual evaluation of schools through tiering allows us to track progress toward school improvement goals. The multiple variables that we track and the full picture of school performance reminds us of the need to be persistent in our school reform efforts, ensuring that every school continues to improve” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries, who oversees school reform.
District administrators sought to clarify the mixed results of schools in Tier II by distinguishing between schools that are Tier II Achieving and those that are Tier II Growing. Additionally, lower-performing schools that are improving faster than the state in terms of achievement can earn the new designation Tier III Improving. The district also now acknowledges schools that are on the cusp of improving to a new tier.
Schools moving up in their tier are as follows:
·         Brennan-Rogers School, a Tier III school tapped for turnaround in 2009, will move into Tier II Growing, based on impressive growth in student performance.
·         Beecher School will also move from Tier III to Tier II Growing.
·         Three schools – East Rock Magnet, Mauro-Sheridan, and ESUMS – improved enough to cross the line from Tier II to Tier I.
·         Tier II schools Jepson and Bishop-Woods showed enough improvement to end up on the cusp of upward advancement.
·         Hill Regional Career High School moved from Tier II to Tier I for high student achievement, though challenges remain with keeping students on trajectory for graduation in four years.
Several schools slipped this year in their performance level. Davis Street School continues to be one of the highest-achieving schools in the district, but slipped from Tier I to Tier II due to slowed growth. Three schools – King-Robinson, Fair Haven, and Lincoln-Bassett, slipped from Tier II to Tier III. King-Robinson is on the cusp of moving back into Tier II.
Sound School is the only high school that slipped this year. While Sound continues to have high achievement, a lower college persistence rate led to the school’s change in tier.
Different measures are used among K-8 schools and high schools, reflecting the different performance information that is available.  Tiering also includes the school learning environment surveys, and an analysis of the challenge of the student populations served by different schools. 
New Haven School Change seeks to achieve three goals: Eliminate the achievement gap by raising test scores to at least the state average; cut the high school dropout rate in half; and make sure every student is academically prepared and financially able to go to college.