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True Dropout Rates Revealed

by Melissa Bailey | Dec 29, 2011 5:43 pm

(38) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

After years of inflated figures, the state on Thursday released a more accurate picture of how New Haven high schools were doing before the city’s school reform drive hit town.

The new numbers match up well with the district’s own analysis when it decided last year to recalculate its dropout rate based on a method recommended by the National Governors Association.

The data track students who graduated in 2010, before Mayor John DeStefano launched a sweeping effort to improve the city’s schools.

The district’s Class of 2010 had a 27.1 percent dropout rate and a 62.5 percent graduation rate. Another 10.1 percent were still enrolled after four years in high school.

That data provides a baseline for the city’s reform drive. The district aims to cut the dropout rate in half, from 27 to 13.5 percent, by 2015. The goal for that class is a 76.5 percent four-year graduation rate, with 10 percent still enrolled.

Statewide, 81.8 percent of students in the Class of 2010 graduated in four years, 6.1 percent were still enrolled and 11.7 percent had dropped out.

The state also released school-by-school dropout rates highlighting major challenges at the city’s two comprehensive high schools (see the chart for details). Click here for the state’s full analysis with demographic breakdowns.

The numbers match the district’s analysis, said schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo. Using the new counting, the district last fall announced its 2008 dropout rate was 27.4 percent—not 15.7 percent, as had been previously reported.

The method looks at a “cohort” of students, which includes those who start at a school in 9th grade, plus those who transfer in, minus those who transfer out. Students in adult education are considered dropouts. Click here to read about the change in counting method.

The new figures show that after four years, only 41.8 percent of the Hillhouse Class of 2010 had graduated. Another 12.9 percent were still enrolled and 45.3 percent had dropped out. At Wilbur Cross, 57.3 percent had graduated, 13.2 percent were still enrolled and 29.1 had dropped out.

The data represents the baseline at those schools before two new principals, Hillhouse’s Kermit Carolina and Cross’s Peggy Moore, took over.

“I’ve got to give Kerm Carolina credit,” said Mayo Thursday. “He did do an assessment at the school” about which kids were dropping out. “Most of those are black males.”

Carolina has put a special emphasis on upping expectations and standards for black males and for students most at risk of failing. He started granting “varsity letters” for academics; he has brought in adult mentors who overcame challenges teens are facing today. He also had teachers implement intensive every-period, every-day writing program.

Mayo noted that both Hillhouse and Cross have advisory programs, which aim to build closer ties between students and adults. They’ve both been split up into smaller “learning communities,” with a special “academy” just for freshmen.

“These are the kind of things that we have that try to combat the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate,” Mayo said.

Mayo noted that the smaller magnet schools had higher graduation rates—Sound School emerged as a shining star with 90.8 percent.

The superintendent said he’s received good feedback that graduation rates may be improving for the Class of 2011.

“Are we pleased” with the 2010 figures? “Nope,” Mayo said. “We’ve got work to do.”

“We’re looking forward to seeing if we make progress after setting this benchmark year.”

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posted by: Taxpayer on December 29, 2011  7:33pm

Mr. Carolina is doing a great job at Hillhouse High School and can’t be bought! The Mayor has never taught in a public school in New Haven and did not attend public schools in New Haven! He ... went to private schools. I would love to see [him] teach for a year at Hillhouse without any favors…!
Mr. Carolina is one of the few African American male Educators in NHPS that has stood up ... for the sake of the miseducation of so many kids in the NHPS. NHPS has such a caste system with progressive African American Educators! The system will try to black ball them…so many departments lack and over look qualified African American Educators in the NHPS. Especially in the Literacy Dept. areal caste system that lack very few teachers of color and the Math Dept. Keep up the good work Mr. Carolina, my tax money will continue to pay you to do the best you can with what you have at Hillhouse High School!

posted by: William F. Anderson on December 29, 2011  7:39pm

The people of the city of New Haven need to know that certain aspects of the new reform efforts are contrary to the best academic interests of their children and are directly tied to the present controversy involving grade tampering. My position is that Hillhouse need not be singled out. The problem of grade tampering, grade manipulation, grade inflation, and blatant fraud in the whole grading system is systemic, not simply a problem in one school.
Under the current reform effort, students and their parents are absolved of all responsibilty in the learning process. Student responsibility and accountability are currently rendered of no importance. Students can be absent from school or cut classes numerous times. They can fail to turn in most homework assignments. They can do absolutely no homework at all. Students can fail to study for tests or read assigned readings for their courses. But if New Haven teachers gives poor or failing grades to those students, those teachers are branded failures and are questioned, challenged and harrassed by administrators who want the teachers to issue higher passing grades. Many teachers feel pressured to compromise their principles and change their grades or grading formulas to accomodate the administrators’ demands. Under the new New Haven teacher evaluation, which is part of the reform and which was endorsed by the weak and timid teachers’ union, teachers who have students who perform poorly academically in their classes are subject to being rated at the bottom of the evaluation scale and could potentially be terminated.
If teachers are intimidated and know that they are at risk of losing their careers because most of their students will not work or study, what impact do you think this will have on honesty and integrity in grading? Many teachers are demoralized and hopeless.We all have heard of reports of teachers and administrators erasing incorrect answers on standardized tests and marking in correct answers. PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF LOSING THEIR JOBS.
Whether a principal, assistant principal, counselor, or head clerk in the main office changes a grade is really not that relevant when we consider that a large number of the grades given to students have already been tampered with. (A head clerk in one New Haven school changed her own child’s grade. She was caught. Nothing happened. No emergency school meeting or Board meeting, interview or hearing. That person still holds her position in a New Haven school.)
The whole system is skewed toward giving students grades. Grades used to represent what students had learned. A high school diploma used to mean that students had mastered a certain body of knowledge and were prepared to successfully compete in college or the world of work. That was a 19th and early to mid 20th century liberal arts educational ideal. Now the educational leader of the 21st century have claimed to have found a more excellent way to educate our youth. Now many students on the honor roll who graduate from several New Haven high schools must take remedial courses in college. Some of their high school teachers told that they were great readers, writers, researchers and thinkers and graded them accordingly, but when those students were exposed to college level work, they struggled to compete.
Yes, Dr. Mayo, we have a lot of work to do in the New Haven public schools, but we had better start building on a firm foundation of honesty and integrity in grading students. Otherwise, the entire New Haven school system and a New Haven High School diploma will be both a sham and a fraud and we will produce some of the most ill prepared students in the history of this nation.

posted by: H. Swan on December 29, 2011  8:07pm

Mayo has had decades to do his job. In what other industry could you fail so completely for so many years and still have your boss speak of you in glowing terms, much less still have your job? They Mayor’s pigheaded and self-serving devotion to Mayo may be good for his political career, but it is and has been disastrous for this city. And after nearly 20 years of failure we should pat the administration and BOE on the back for merely promising reform? Building bright, pretty new dropout factories?

I’ve contributed enough to the political (and financial) fortunes of John DeStefano and his army of pilot fish in return for poor city services, dishonest government, high crime, and unusable schools. There is no reason for me to be here. My family and I will be putting our house on the market come spring. And ill gladly take a loss to assure myself a spot on a liferaft off this sinking garbage scow. Aside from pseudo-urban hipsters, Yalies, and those too poor to leave, who would stay in this jerkwater burg? And please, don’t give me that tired trope about great urban amenities. That’s a delusion maintained by those who must convince themselves that Rome is not burning. New Haven, everything about you is third-rate at best. Goodbye and good riddance.

posted by: cedarhillresident on December 29, 2011  8:45pm

great numbers!

so can we do the numbers that refer to JUST NEW HAVEN RESIDENT children? Ya know to see if we are serving that tax payers that LIVE in the city? Maybe I am wrong but Hill House and Wilbur Cross have a large pop of New Haven resident kids and the other schools have alot of regional kids. Is that a fair question to ask?

posted by: What??? on December 29, 2011  9:59pm

What is the graduation/dropout rate at Common Ground and Amistad?

posted by: How many .... on December 29, 2011  11:47pm

How many start at the magnets and get pushed out to Hill House or Cross?

posted by: Bill Betzen on December 30, 2011  12:06am

Dealing with a low graduation rate requires a change in school culture.  That usually requires a significant increase in school district “body language” that shows parents their involvement as parents is critical, and welcomed! The following is an open source dropout prevention project that has doubled graduation rates with minimal financial investment.  It may be used freely as long as you are willing to share your experiences on the project so others may benefit from them.

One such piece of “body language” would be showing parents how very important their dreams for their children are. Every parent should be welcome to write their children letters as they enter middle school, if not earlier, about their own dreams for their child. What letter could be more valuable?  It would be a letter to their child about their dreams and hopes for their child in middle school, and in life, and how they are willing to help their child. Such letters could become a priceless possession for thousands of children, especially as the years pass.  They would help change the culture.

This priceless letter would then be read by each new middle school student and brought to Language Arts Class.  In that class one of the first writing projects would be to write a letter to themselves about their own dreams for themselves.  What are their goals in middle school and in their lives? 

Both of these letters would then be placed together into the same self-addressed envelope and placed inside a 540-pound vault bolted to the floor in the school lobby.  This vault is the School Archive where such critical plans for the future by each student are stored.  It is in a central location passed every day many times by every student.  It is under spotlights in this central location as a silent reminder of the letters and dreams for the future inside.

The last months of middle school these letters are pulled and returned to each student, again in Language Arts class. Letters are written again by both parents and students, this time looking 10 years into the future. Both letters are again placed together into one self-addressed envelope and, in a short ceremony, back into the vault.  This time they stay in the vault for a decade. 

Each students gets two copies of a group photo that is taken of them with their Language Arts Class holding their letters before placing them into the vault.  On the backs of those photos are descriptions of the Archive Project with the month their 10-year class reunion is planned.  They are reminded they will get their letter back at that reunion.  They will also be invited to speak with the then current middle school students, students a decade younger than they will be.  They will give their recommendations for success.  They are reminded to prepare to answer questions such as “What would you do differently if you were 13 again?”

This Archive Project started at Quintanilla Middle School in 2005.  Sunset High School, where most Quintanilla Students attend, has gone from a 33% graduation rate in 2006 to one that is now over 62% in 2011.  Sunset installed a vault for a high school level Archive Project in 2009. Parental letters were only added to the projects in 2010. 
The school culture is changing!  It is focused on the future. This project is now in 7 schools but must improve and spread to more schools.  Teachers and administrators who would love to see their students again in 10 years are the best candidates to volunteer to run such School Archive Projects.  The 2010 Project annual report is at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2010/12/school-archive-project-report-for-2010.html.
More details are at the web site at http://www.studentmotivation.org.

Bill Betzen
Dallas, Texas

posted by: noteworthy on December 30, 2011  12:36am

Dr. Mayo and the NHBOE has known for years and years that their graduation rates were wrong but they used a loophole to claim otherwise. While these numbers are more accurate, they still reflect a desire to paint a better picture than is our reality in New Haven. Kids who have not dropped out and are still enrolled in some capacity in school represent 10% of our students.

In other studies they consider them to have dropped out already and peg our real graduation rate at 51.3%. Whether it is 61 or 51% - to have allwoed it to go on for so long is sad. To think of all those lost lives…wonder why our poverty rate is climbing along with our murders and other crime?

posted by: William F. Anderson on December 30, 2011  12:46am

Hillhouse and Cross, the largest of New Haven’s multitude of high schools, have a population of mostly Black and Hispanic students, with a sprinkling of foreign students from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, many of whom are ESL (English as a Secod Language) students. Most of the students are poor and lower middle class. There are many special ed students, poor, low and nonreaders. Cross and Hillhouse are assigned many students who have been incarcerated or have been in trouble with the law. Many are from single parent homes. Many live in impoverished, crime and violence filled neighborhoods. The problems of education in urban America are probably more magnified at Cross and Hillhouse than any of the other high schools. Many of the students who have “problems” are not welcome in some of the other schools. The “problem” students, the ones most difficult and hardest to reach are almost exclusively sent to Cross and Hillhouse. Hillhouse and Cross are disproportionately burdened with the responsibilty of trying to educate some of the worst prepared and worst behaved students in the city. Ask the principals of these schools. It is probably their greatest challenge that their schools are seen by someone in Central Office as dumping ground for students with severe social and educational problems.
Both schools do have some outstanding,dedicated, hard-working, intelligent and highly motivated students who buck the odds and transcend the urban obstacles to become academically successful and do enter and graduate from some of the top colleges and universities in this country. Sadly, however, these students make up a minority of Hillhouse’s and Cross’ poplation.
The Magnet School program attracts the city’s most academically motivated students who have families who are heavily involved with their childrens’ education. These parents have to be more motivated to make the extra effort to get their children into a magnet school. Magnet schools also attract middle and upper class suburban white students whose social, economic and familial backgrounds are far different from the average poor minority student from New Haven. Grades, test scores and graduation rates are generally higher in these magnet schools because they cater to an entirely different clientele.
The Sound School and Hillhouse High School represent two different classes of public schools in New Haven. In a democracy there is no place for classes in education. Equal access to a quality education should be available to all. There should be an equal sharing of the responsilbility of educating our youth. Why should Cross and Hillhouse be assigned a disproportionate number of special ed students and juvenile delinquents, while the magnet school service the intellectual elites?
How can the Board in good conscience spend tens of thousands of dollars to promote the great programs and resources of the magnet schools through TV, radio and newspaper ads, billboards and banners and infer that the other schools, which are not likewise promoted, are inferior and less desirable? Why are there no Tv ads for Cross and Hillhouse?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen of New Haven, there is a degree of educational apartheid in the New Haven Public Schools. Some of the non-magnet schools lack sufficient numbers of textbooks, computers, teaching resouces and supplies for teachers to do their work. Why are some schools made up of nearly 100% minority students, while most of the magnet schools have some degree of racial and ethnic diversity? Diversity is a good thing. It would be beneficial for all of our New Haven students to be educated in a racially and culturally diverse environment.
The Board has allowed and has promoted walls of separation to be erected in our school system. One result: 80-90% graduation rates in magnet schools, Cross and Hillhouse graduation rates at 57% and 42% respectively.

posted by: timmy on December 30, 2011  8:59am

I think we should stop blaming the administration of NH.  The “people” keep voting him back into office.  The people that keep voting him back into office are to blame.

The definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. 

Shout out to Anon. this is why i do NOT live in NH.

posted by: Joe Hill on December 30, 2011  9:19am

I’d like to see a comparison of these numbers with other urban districts both individually or on some aggregated basis before we condemn New Haven or its students.  Are we doing better or worse than comparable settings? I’m not saying these numbers are anything to write home about, but a little context please.

@H. Swann. My kids would laugh in my face if I claimed to be any kind of hipster, but none of us are complaining about walking to school, shops, friends, libraries, culture, arts, and entertainment. Enjoy your car in the’burbs.

posted by: hoho on December 30, 2011  9:36am

Where is the graduation rate for Amistad, Elm City?

posted by: Yes We Can! on December 30, 2011  9:37am

There are a number of interesting things about this report that are worth good faith discussion.

First, it is high time that the state has moved to a more nationally accepted model for such rates.  New Haven has long lobbied for this model which includes cohort tracking through data analysis of actual students as opposed to summary numbers which the state had used or misused in the past.  The State has finally agreed with this approach and now we will have good solid agreed upon rules for data going forward.

New Haven not only lobbied for this model but it projected these numbers over a year ago when it set its baseline Reform Goals.  It also published the data for all school both at Board meetings and in the Site Based budget where the rates were listed for every school.

No secret, no hide the ball.  Unlike some vitriolic posters in these pages who consistently inflated the number for their ill-conceived political goals, New Haven was using these numbers to create legitimate benchmarks and goals for School Reform.  Those numbers and the methodology behind them have now been proven right!  The State is following the lead of New Haven!

Second, looking at the numbers reveals that New Haven’s projections were spot on when they published them a year ago.  This is critical.  The fact that New Haven was so accurate and so transparent and public in its projections reflects that the in house data people really have a handle on the numbers and have a great ability to project the data.  This allows for focused efforts on instruction, remediation, programming, etc.  Bravo in house Data people!  Zip drives all around please.

Third, the numbers (did I say they were over 10% higher than the lies posted on these pages for many months) show a few important things.

  New Haven did better than its large urban peers (10% or more better).  Yes the numbers for all need to rise but it is important to note that New Haven is outperforming its most appropriate comparable;

  The rates at the smaller themed school and Magnet schools did quite well and in some cases above the state average rates!  Could it be that the programming plan and construction begun over 10 years ago actually worked?  Could it be that School Reform is taking root?

  The rates at the large comprehensive High Schools bring down the average.  However, looking inside those numbers reveals significant pockets of success there as well.  Thus, WE CAN succeed in these schools too.  The numbers prove it!

  The fact is that the lowest percentages are in the categories of ELL, SPED and poor students of color.  Not an excuse, a fact from the data.  Also not unique to New Haven.  These rates are at similar levels in the other Urban districts and also, dare I say it, in some of the suburban towns.  Nationally these numbers are also consistent. 

More resources, more focus, more work needs to be done in these areas, but even in these areas there are pockets of success as these groups show that they too can succeed;

  The still enrolled category and the other category should not be automatically counted as a negative.  Rolling on those numbers and assuming at least some percentage will eventually graduate will provide another boost.  The state data does not follow the child with this data and thus if a student starts at Cross and moves to New York, or Puerto Rico or El Salvador or Hamden and graduates at the top of their respective class they are still counted as “other” in the New Haven numbers.  My point is that while you cannot totally ignore these numbers, they also should not totally be assumed as failure or non-graduating. 

Coming up with a fair delta here to apply across the Board would likely raise the numbers by another 5-10%.

Finally these numbers are for last year.  The State will produce the numbers for this year in the next month or so I am told.  Internal projections are that the numbers will increase! 

Given the spot on projections to date I feel very good about that and hope it is true across the board.

Many thanks to the students, parents, faculty and staff who rise above the negativity and shed the assumption that they are just numbers and statistics.  They are living breathing human beings making a difference every day in the trench. 

My 2012 resolution is to double down on my resolve to support you all.  YES YOU CAN!!

posted by: Joe Hill on December 30, 2011  9:54am

I looked at some statistics re dropout/graduation rates and they’re all over the map. There is also controversy about how to measure the rates. Many districts’ rates are being revised negatively because of new methodologies. But New Haven is pretty much in the middle of the pack, room for improvement, but not horribly poor compared to similar districts. There are variables that make for a difference that have little to do with the effort of educators. For example, Latino students do worse than African Americans.

I’m not saying that Mayo couldn’t do a better job, but mediocre might be a better adjective than some of the flames thrown around here.

posted by: Bill Betzen on December 30, 2011  10:24am

The shocking dropout numbers New Haven is now seeing are simply very common across the United States, especially in urban areas.  Those numbers have always been there, simply ignored or lied about. A very simple way to expose this history in any school district is to create a 10+ year history of enrollment numbers by grade for the school district and put it all in one large spreadsheet. Each grade in a row with years in the columns.  The last row at the bottom would be the number of diplomas given out that year.  Such data should be posted on every school web site in the US, but you will almost never find them.  It is a level of honesty and accountability that our nations schools have not yet achieved.

In New Haven now I presume such a spreadsheet would only verify the shocking numbers your community is finally facing. I strongly recommend you place such a spreadsheet on your web site however.  The numbers are simple to find and easier to explain to the public.  It is the level of transparency every school system should have. The numbers for Dallas are at http://www.studentmotivation.org/DallasISD.htm

Now New Haven needs to give their students a future to work toward, and focus intently on the reality of that future and what it will take to get there.  Your dropout numbers will be cut in half!  Begin the tradition of 10-year 8th grade class reunions with those attending their reunions also being asked to speak with current 8th grade students.  Such feedback, such a focus will change the school culture in New Haven.  It is simple.  No high dollar program or consultants are needed, just teachers who would love to see their students again in 10 years.

posted by: H. Swan on December 30, 2011  10:32am

@Joe Hill

Joe, you’ve completely missed my point. I have no intention of living in the burbs. The are plenty of cities in the US where I can have livability and urban amenities, good schools and culture. It’s not a one-or-the-other proposition. May be the case for CT, but I’m fortunate in that I can live wherever I want. Your tired response is typical of New Haveners who seem to believe that NH is the only city on the eastern seaboard. If that’s what you need to convince yourself of, enjoy your delusion. I’m taking my substantial tax dollars elsewhere.

PS. I have an office downtown. I park every day in one of the NHPAs lots. I eat lunch, every day, in one of New Haven’s many substandard and overpriced eateries. I get my hair cut, buy my coffee, and send my kids to daycare all in New Haven. So before you make some glib comment about the burbs, think about the economic contributions people like me make to this city. And then realize that we are those who have the means to pick up and leave. Yes, New Haven will do fine without me. But think about how better off we would all be if the city were able to retain young professionals with growing families.

posted by: Mudear on December 30, 2011  12:29pm

William Anderson makes a lot of sense by pointing out the differences between the students at HH and WC and those at the magnet schools before you can make any comparison between groups you have to test for equivalency. The people at the two regular schools are dealing with different kids even though there are bright kids in schools with high dropout rates. We need more data related to socio-economic stats and whether Cross and Hillhouse have a disproportionate number of kids in trouble. I do not believe that kids coming out of the criminal justice system are scheduled in any of the magnet schools. A better comparison would be to see if the two schools do a better job with poor kids than their counterparts. Compare all the poor kids in all the schools and see where they are most represented and how well they perform in those schools. New Haven is doing a great job of educating kids from the suburbs also. Yet, the children and their families should also be held accountable. I do not see how either Carolina or Moore can be praised or criticized at this point because they have not been in their jobs long enough to make a difference unless of course there are things going on in their schools that are not kosher.

posted by: Bill Betzen on December 30, 2011  12:55pm

Mudear, if you want to see the differences between different groups of students just ask them about their plans for the future.  You will see significant differences and they almost always have to do with income levels at home and parenting. However, they also have a strong correlation with teachers they have been exposed to.  Teachers who focus on the future have students who have more realistic plans for the future. They may be the hardest teachers but they are also the teachers the students will remember 10 and 20 years from now.

Future focused students can quickly tell you their plans for the future.  They also can speak about how those plans have evolved over their years in school.  Changing your plans should be an ability that we prepare all our students for.  It is normal.

Imagine what 23 year olds may say if they were to return to the middle school they left 10 years earlier and were to talk to the 8th graders about their recommendations for success.  That perspective is the one we want our students to think about.  It will evolve and change, but it is future focused. It cannot be captured in a time capsule.  It will change and evolve and be different for every child, but it is what our schools should be doing.  We must prepare our students to come back in 10 years and give such talks to decade younger students.  It will be good for all involved. The question for these returning students speaking in front of 8th graders should be “What would you do differently if you were 13 again?”

posted by: westville man on December 30, 2011  2:13pm

@ H. Swan

You can leave NH without trashing every aspect of it. Some of us, including me and my family, moved here 15 years ago from the suburbs. I am a 50 something professional and can live anywhere in the country. We chose New Haven for alot of reasons, none which you’re interested in apparently, and we’ll probably move out sometime near retirement age.
We have no regrets and we love alot about our city. 
Why dont you just leave and take the high road for the benefit of the rest of us who strongly disagree w you?  We certainly dont need you here.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 30, 2011  2:31pm

William Anderson,
Excellent posts. The only thing I disagree with is this statement:
“Both schools do have some outstanding,dedicated, hard-working, intelligent and highly motivated students who buck the odds and transcend the urban obstacles to become academically successful and do enter and graduate from some of the top colleges and universities in this country.”
I don’t think these students “buck the odds”, this is not the most accurate way to describe this phenomenon. Every school in New Haven has teachers that are as qualified and capable as any surrounding school district, and because of the school reconstruction project, we now have better facilities than any of the surrounding public schools. So it is actually quite simple to get a high-quality education at any New Haven school so long as the student takes advantage of the enormous resources made available to them. Unfortunately, while it may be “simple” to do this, it is not easy. Peer pressure, home and neighborhood environments, and teachers rendered ineffective by years of demoralization (largely at the hands of emotionally disturbed students) lead to many students not taking advantage of these enormous resources. So when many New Haven students go on to be conventially successful, it is not because they bucked a trend, it’s because NHPS are comparable to any other surrounding suburban school where kids have resources for a high-quality education. The only difference in the student population, which you explained pretty well.

In New Haven, and in many urban districts across the country, there is one population of students that take advantage of the qualified teaching staff and the school facilities that go on to college and careers, and there is another population of students that don’t take advantage of these resources and eiher drop out or barely graduate. This basic trend would continue to happen irrespective of the schools or the city government, because student performance is tied more directly to conditions that exist in their private home and neighborhood lives than in the public school realm.

With that said, there are significant changes to the school system that could help mitigate this reality that might be worth pursuing, but the largest and more effective changes will come from addressing the issue of home and neighborhood life for students. This involves an initiative that educates and trains parents, provides meaningful employment to New Haven’s unemployed and underemployed populations, and invests money in New Haven neighborhoods through wages that can then support secondary amenities like civic organizations, retail stores, small businesses and community events.
http://www.ctneweconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/A-Renaissance-for-all-of-us.pdf
This is a proposal that is on the right track, whether or not it is the correct initiative is another issue, but proposals like this that focus on the existing adult populations are the right way to go.
Parents and adults that have meaningful and fulfilling employment that delivers goods and services that people want and need is a necessary ingredient and creating households and neighborhoods that nurture youth and prepare them to take advantage of the educational opportunities that exist in New Haven from the libraries, to the public events, to the schools. If necessary, we should redirect money from the schools to the adults, neighborhoods, and jobs that need investment, which will be made up for with households that can now provide for their families adequately. By ignoring the adults and going directly to the kids through the schools, there will always be a population of students that fall behind because of horrible situations at home or in their neighborhoods.

In order to address the child education issues, it is imperative that we do it through the adults that have a direct impact on the kids.

posted by: teacher on December 30, 2011  3:48pm

I nominate William F. Anderson for post of the year! Who are you and where have you been?

posted by: brutus2011 on December 30, 2011  5:47pm

I agree that what “William F. Anderson” has written makes a lot of sense.

I think it is because it resonates with my experience as an educator within NHPS.

The posts by “Thomas Paine” are also stunningly accurate as to what I have seen.

But someone under the pseudonym of “scammin sid” posted under the article “Jefferson Calls for Conflict-Free Investigation.”

Here the idea is brought forth about the hiring practices of NHPS and the inefficiencies thereof.

I believe that this has much merit.

Dr. Mayo has erected a top-down management of NHPS that pays its managers very well. This buys a lot of loyalty because who wants to give up a 10k per month job? Especially since not playing ball will result in not being able to work again in the field one in trained in.” Imagine what a disaster that would be to one’s life, family, and mental well-being.

This seems to be how the game is played here, and it is chilling.

Remember that this is not a private corporation we are talking about. This is a public institution.

A public institution that swallows nearly one-half of the city’s budget.

And people are hired by who they know and not so much as what they know.

And people are scared for their jobs. (especially in these times)

Lets add another word to “hubris.”

“Corruption”

posted by: NH Educators on December 30, 2011  6:40pm

Paraphrasing William F. Anderson ‘The NH BOE has allowed and has promoted walls of separation to be erected in our school system. One result: 80-90% graduation rates in some magnet schools, Cross and Hillhouse graduation rates at 57% and 42% respectively.’ We applaud Mr. Anderson’s thoughtful posting. We too have wondered and inquired as to why thousands of dollars are being spent on TV ads promoting NH magnet schools? Where is this money coming from when some schools (such as Wilbur Cross) do not have enough text books for students to take home? Some schools have partially empty libraries and lack other needed resources!
We wish to make four points.  1) Those TV ads are not directed at NH parents because their children have great difficulty getting into the best magnet schools located in their community or anywhere in NH.
2)  Children who are residents of NH’s poorest communities are not now, nor have they ever been (since Dr. John Dow left NH) a priority concern of the Mayor or Dr. Mayo. The vast array of desperate conditions that exist among NH’s poor are used to bring dollars into NHPS and the City so that the fabulous magnet programs in the beautiful buildings could be created and marketed to the residents in the suburbs. Why? The Mayor and other experts can best answer that question. We believe the Mayor capitalizes politically off NH’s economic and social woes; sadly, the people of NH are not the ones reaping the benefits of whatever largesse comes to New Haven. It is heart-rending.  Poor children need the best resources and education.

3) Although it still goes on to a lesser degree, until fairly recently Wilbur Cross High was two separate schools in one building. The 3rd floor was occupied by smart, academically well-prepared, mostly white and Asian students. They went on to Yale, UConn, and other top out-of-state colleges.  The first floor was occupied by mostly Black and Hispanic poor performing students.  Most of WC dropouts attended classes on the first floor.  The second floor was occupied by those in-between. These were the average students; if they had good parents, good behavior and they lucked out with their teachers, some of them did well and went on to college, but they were usually not the academic stars. Yet, many succeeded later on.
Rose Coggins and a few teachers, counselors and some administrators of conscience tried to change the dynamics of WCHS; they succeeded to some degree, but they did not get the support they needed from the top. Readers should know that in the 90’s and up to mid-2000’s many top students graduated from Wilbur Cross High. Teachers who taught on the 3rd floor (in the honors and AP classes) knew that they were expected to deliver top graduates; they did.

4)  Even with the lack of parental education, socio-economic challenges and other barriers faced by many parents in NH, many more of our children can succeed academically; more of our children can be saved from violence and gangs. There needs to be more sustained and committed education, moral, ethical and social leadership. There needs to be clearly defined goals with guidance and measurements on how to attain them. There needs to be real commitments and dedication on the part of all adults involved to a set of values with a solid educational foundation and self-respect at the core of those values. Children need to know what is expected of them; they need to be held accountable and responsible. Adults need to be consistent and supportive as good examples of what is possible. As we strive to do our part, we are praying for our little City of New Haven; we pray that the carnage will end and that inspired leadership will emerge very soon; it seems our only hope.

posted by: Et Tu? on December 30, 2011  10:29pm

William F. Anderson says “Both schools (Cross and Hillhouse) do have some outstanding, dedicated, hard-working, intelligent and highly motivated students who buck the odds and transcend the urban obstacles to become academically successful and do enter and graduate from some of the top colleges and universities in this country.”

This statement is somewhat true.

Most of the students who perform in the honors/AP track at Cross and go on to succeed at higher education are generally not poor students from academically disconnected families.

The students who succeed in spite of the dysfunction of Wilbur Cross rely on relatives, teachers, and other connected adults in their lives.  These individuals help students navigate the haphazard system.

Cross principals are very interested in working “the numbers game”.  With money and power at stake, why not cheat if you can log more high school graduates?

I am outraged that experienced teachers – those most connected to our students - are excluded from operational decisions made at Wilbur Cross. 

This would not be a problem if the eight Cross principals were master educators and effective managers.

They are not.

Take a look at the basic operations at the school – from the ongoing schedule fiasco, to student attendance, to consistency – you will be dumbfounded.

Few administrators work with students around big ideas, or share skills. Shouldn’t they personify the central work of schools?  Only two of the eight Cross administrators have earned modest student and teacher respect.

Wilbur Cross has about 1,200 students - the same as last year - but has seen the removal of 10 teachers (and their positions) this year.  Is this due to budget problems or is it Mayo’s retribution for last year’s “bad press”?  Of course, no administrators have been removed.

Last summer, central office administration lobbied the state to change the supervisory rules for the 3 year, multi-million dollar “School Improvement Grants”.  As a result, New Haven schools no longer have to pay attention to the pesky “School Governance Council” composed of elected parents, teachers and students. 

Oh no, not students!  They must not be given a voice at Wilbur Cross!  The new student council (formed after Peggy Moore nullified last year’s election) is silent and seems powerless.  Mission accomplished!

And here are statements made in that Wilbur Cross grant proposal of the summer of 2010 that have yet to be realized:

“As we look to strengthen parent and community engagement, we will create ways of increasing meaningful partnerships and resources designed to best meet the needs of the greater Cross School Community.

“A redesigned Cross Parent Center will be provided as a parent community center for workshops, training, resource identification and other supports to motivate, as well as enable parents to become more connected to their child’s high school educational experiences.”

“We are excited about developing a system that allows for greater engagement of the parents and community as we transform Cross into a vibrant, high achieving model high school.”

“Teacher leaders will play an active role in school leadership.”

“This summer (summer, 2010) the Cross Redesign Team will develop a strategic plan for establishing a comprehensive extended-day program. They will investigate current extended-day programs within the school to determine effectiveness and then, will refine and/or identify new programs and approaches to the extended day model to enhance and expand student learning opportunities.”

This is the link to that grant: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/arra/SIG_NewHaven.pdf

Peggy Moore asked for teacher volunteers to run extended day programming at a staff meeting last week (December 19, 2011).  The three-year grant of 2.1 million dollars for Wilbur Cross has been over half spent.

She is just NOW getting around to this?

I want to believe caring, intelligent adults can make “tough” schools like Cross better for all kids.  I mean a better SCHOOL, not merely “numbers-on-a-page” better.  I want to be part of a school that values all kids and focuses on providing them positive, meaningful experiences.

Is the school bureaucracy too self-centered and really THAT corrupt to realize this vision?  Sadly, it may be.

Are there more than a few hundred alarmed people in New Haven?

posted by: Noteworthy on December 31, 2011  8:29pm

Nice spin. Nothing but spin. And a major correction: The city of New Haven has NOT lobbied for any change in graduation rate accountability. In fact, it defended the status quo just a couple of years ago when we were labeled a drop out factory.

But nice spin nonetheless.

posted by: Tom Burns on January 1, 2012  3:32am

In the old days I would have been held accountable by my parents, my teachers, my administrators and my country AS WELL AS THE WORLD AT LARGE—as a student—but not now—-lets just blame someone else for my failures—-
WOW—I’m glad we had standards back in the day—for it pushed me and inspired me to be the best I could be—with no excuses——Can we get back to holding kids accountable—so they might be the best they can—
or should we just say—you’re ok—it’s someone elses fault—-NO MORE—- must we allow this idiocy———
and the ACHIEVEMENT GAP—did that just occur—or did it occur because the rich kids on Wall Street couldnt get jobs on Wall St—cause the people on Wall St sort of failed—(with no punishment of course)—so their parents and their friends decided to take over public education and push for legislation that would allow them and (their 22 year old kids)to be in charge(so their kids could have a job) at anyone’s expense—because all the teachers from the beginning of time are failures, of course, and decided not to teach the minority children in their classes(thus the achievement gap, right??)—-are you kidding me???
—-This is the first day of 2012 and I challenge all of us to become a family that cares about each other more than we do our individual selves—for this is the only answer—Join me——-Tom

posted by: Yes We Can! on January 1, 2012  12:05pm

Noteworthy:

Noteworthy:

Where do you get your “facts?”. New Haven officials not only lobbied for the Governor’s Assosiaction calculation method, it did so on committees with the Commissioner of Education and directly with the Governor’s office.  Leading by example New Haven began actively using AND publishing the rates last year in it’s Reform Goals and it’s Site Based Budget.

In 2012 why don’t you ditch the invented facts designed to tear down and join the many more who are working hard to build up!  Yes We Can! 

We includes you too.

posted by: Seriously on January 1, 2012  1:18pm

Can someone in this fantastic thread please explain to me how in the world Reggie Mayo still has a job?
He has been presiding over an institutional failure for almost 20 years.

Why is he being being entrusted with school reform. You are telling me that New Haven can’t find a nationally-renown school reformer to helm the city school system?

Hillhouse has a 45% dropout rate. 45%! Half of the kids attending don’t finish. When I read that statistic I almost fell out of my chair.  That is nothing less than an absolute tragedy.

People should be rioting in the streets over that figure, because it explains pretty effectively why Newhallville and the Hill have turned into killing fields. We are turning our back on a generation of African American males and their families and blindly letting them live a life on the streets.

From what I’ve read this past year in the NHI, Kermit Carolina is an amazing human being, and looks like the right person to right James Hillhouse Highschool. Congratulations goes to him. However he needs way more institutional support than he is getting. You go, Mr. Carolina. You are one of the good guys. Keep fighting, sir.

posted by: westville man on January 1, 2012  1:18pm

@ Tom Burns

“In the old days”?  When were those?  When Jim Crow ruled the south or when the Civil Rights laws were passed just to get whites to “allow” blacks to eat at the counter, sit on a bus or use a toilet?  Were they more recently when Blacks couldnt get decent housing, a job or a fair mortgage??
My folks and yours were part of that history as were our neighbors. Let’s not romanticize what is was like for you and me and then assume the whole country experienced the same thing. Only very recently are we finally speaking out and acting more like the people we think we are.

posted by: Bill Betzen on January 1, 2012  3:08pm

Westville man is correct.  The “good old days” were not that good for everyone.

The move to transparency should require annual enrollment by grade, and graduation numbers, be added every year to a large spreadsheet with the same number going back 10+ years. This will show graphically how our schools are doing.  Any fluctuations not due to dropout rates can easily be footnoted in such a spreadsheet.  Here in Dallas we had the Katrina refugees who made our enrollments swell that year.

Schools across the US must have greater transparency and make such a multi-year enrollment by grade & graduation spreadsheet a central item on their web page.

posted by: Tom Burns on January 1, 2012  6:45pm

To Westville man—
You are totally correct—-you see I didn’t say ‘GOOD” old days—because they weren’t—-my point was that we have always had an achievement gap -back then and now—-

I object to a group of people with no educational background (using the achievement gap mantra) taking over our public schools to enrich themselves at the expense of our children—-thats all

We have much more to do and we need to do it together—hope that clears it up—Tom

posted by: WestvilleMan on January 1, 2012  7:07pm

Thanks for clearing that up Tom Burns.  I’m w you on that one.

posted by: Noteworthy on January 1, 2012  10:01pm

Yes We Can:

Re-calibrating drop out rates last year does not constitute much of a history of lobbying for anything, let alone the type of aggressive lobbying you suggest.

Back in November 2007, when it was first revealed in a nationally released study that New Haven had the dubious distinction of manufacturing drop outs at two of his largest high schools, DeStefano and Mayo both reacted with disdain and joined a chorus of howlers from the education industry who dissed the study and its methodology claiming it was completely flawed.

This was done in a backdrop of trashing reformers at the Charter Schools who were having positive results. DeStefano demanded he and his cronies be put on boards and cried saying reformers in charter schools were out to steal money from public school children.

Meanwhile, a real reformer, the superintendent in Hartford pointed out that anything short of counting those entering as freshman and those leaving as seniors is nothing short of just trying to make graduation rates look better than they really are. And it provides easy cover for those who refuse to confront the issue of urban drop out rates in the nation’s poorest performing schools.

The fact of the matter is both DeStefano and Mayo and the entire NH BOE and its establishment of high priced administrators have known for many many years that there is a drop out problem. An entire generation of students has received not only a poor education, but half the time, no education and nothing has been done about it except to hire a bunch of truant officers.

Pretending that all of a sudden, we now have the real drop out numbers, when they have known these drop out numbers previously existed is a sham. To say they didn’t have real numbers until all this extensive lobbying is dishonest and intellectually lame.

More recently, NH BOE member Alex Johnston announced that stats coming down from Hartford would reveal that even the kids who do graduate from NH public schools, more than 80% fail to graduate from college. And predictably DeStefano and Mayo acted shocked. This information, like the drop out rates, have been known for a damn long time.

So please continue your spin and pretend this is ground breaking information. Fact is, these numbers comport exactly with previously reported data except that credit is given for those who have not finished school on time and are in some romper room someplace, taking a GED class or some other manufactured activity in an effort to make these numbers look better than they do. The graduation rate stinks. It has stunk for a long time and those who oversaw it and approved of it all these years are not in fact reformers, they are retreads playing at reform and looking for accolades and applause from parents and the PTOs.

And just for the record, W.C. High School’s graduating senior class this year will include less than half the students who entered four years ago as freshmen - less than half.

posted by: Yes We Can on January 2, 2012  11:05am

Noteworthy:

I understand you seek to redefine history and invent facts when necessary to continue your negativity parade.

New Haven like all districts used the methodology approved by the state in prior years.  Not a made up rate or a rate based on assumptions without the underlying data to back it up (like the studies you prefer). 

New Haven, like all other districts and the state understood that the prior method was imperfect and that drop outs were and are a major problem.

After committees and study and work and collaboration the state adopted this new method which comes approved by many other states, the Governor’s association and yes, New Haven.

New Haven School Reform has never claimed anything but a major issue with drop out.  It is one of the three major gold of the Reform movement.  If you were not so hell bent at tearing down you might have noticed that.

Drop out and achievement gap are not issues unique to New Haven.  What is unique is the multi-layered plan go tackle it.  Union contracts geared toward reform, evaluation of schools and teachers, data driven analysis, infrastructure investment, food services focus, wraparound services, Promise, College Summit, state of the art technology, largest pre-school in the state, energy efficiency, etc.

While you wallow in you negativity there is a School Reform revolution going on.

Again, I implore you to join me in the New Year.  Yes We Can!

posted by: swatty on January 2, 2012  12:10pm

who is ever in charge of Cross,Hillhouse,and high school in the community should be fired PRONTO.

posted by: brutus2011 on January 4, 2012  12:42pm

Folks:

Try this link:

http://www.georgiateachersspeakout.com/2011/09/19/educrats-continue-to-ignore-at-students’-peril-trotter’s-two-immutable-laws-of-relational-learning/

This is a viewpoint worth considering.

posted by: NHTaxpayer on January 4, 2012  7:26pm

Now that 2012, is upon us and the NHBE have received the notices of their highly paid administrators-who by the way will receive their 10,000 dollar payments for early notification. I hope they will select non-political people to replace the positions at the various schools. The Magnet office will need someone like the current director who is polished, dapper, and can meet with the people
in Washington, DC and handle the diversity of the New Haven Community and the suburban communities. In addition, the Literacy Dept. need to replace that Dept. with a true English/Reading person who has a background in writing and reading! [...] Hopefully, Dr. Mayo, will do a national search for quality, certified people and will not allow politics to intervene with quality education for our kids in New Haven Public Schools.

posted by: Westville Mom on January 5, 2012  5:22pm

@What???—
Here is the data from the link in the article-You could have looked it up yourself.
Common Ground High School District   Common Ground High School   4 year graduation rate 85.3%  Still enrolled 11.8%  Non-Completers (Certificate Of Attendance)0.0% Other 3.0%


Amistad Academy(Achievement First)  is not included in the data set. I don’t know why.

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