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Check Out How Your School Did

by Melissa Bailey | Jun 21, 2013 8:13 am

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

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Melissa Bailey File Photo (Updated) Parents and teachers feel the city’s new K-2 school is off to a strong start, according the latest school surveys.

Quinnipiac School, which opened in the fall on Lexington Avenue, has emerged with good reviews: 87 percent of parents who took surveys, and 82 percent of teachers, said they “recommend” the school.

That was one highlight of the latest round of surveys passed around to teachers, students, staff and parents earlier this year at the city’s 47 schools and programs, as well as adult ed. The school district officially released the surveys at 11 a.m. Friday. The public can see them at this link.

For the first time, the public can view the results in an easy-to-navigate online database, instead of having to download PDFs.

Another change this year: After the teachers union objected, the district stopped issuing cumulative numbers summing up a school’s climate. Instead, you can now see what percent of students, parents, teachers and staff gave the school “favorable” ratings.

The system instituted surveys in 2010 in the quest of “accountability” and “transparency” as part of a broader reform initiative.

“The school climate survey is a tool for schools and for communities,” said Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries. “We think the most important part of this is people paying attention” to the results and addressing them. “In order for that to happen, we felt like the whole thing needed to be more user-friendly.”

The surveys “represent the views of 9,667 5th to 12th grade students (87% of the student population), 5,633 parents (35 percent of the parent population), 1,488 teachers (78 percent of teachers) and 488 non-instructional staff members, including front office secretaries, security guards, and custodial staff (54 percent of staff),” according to schools spokeswoman Abbe Smith.

Here are some highlights:

• Despite its recent downgrading on the school system’s annual report card (from Tier II to Tier III), Fair Haven School showed high satisfaction ratings: 97 percent of students feel “safe” at Fair Haven School and 90 percent “care about the school,” well over the district K-8 averages of 75 and 65 percent. And a whopping 93 percent of teachers recommend the school, compared to an average of 68 percent across all K-8 schools.

The climate surveys are factored into the annual report card, along with growth on standardized tests, and absolute performance on standardized tests.

• Farther up Grand Avenue, Columbus Family Academy also got rave reviews from teachers: All 31 who responded (91 percent of the teaching staff) said they’d recommend the school to friends or colleagues.

• Results are mixed among “turnaround” schools, where the city replaced teaching staff in attempt to raise failing scores. In the second year of a turnaround, students are feeling safer at Clemente Leadership Academy—73 percent reported feeling “safe,” an increase of 8 percent over the prior year. But challenges remain: Only 42 percent of teachers recommend the school. In the second year of a turnaround at Wexler/Grant, 67 percent of parents and 21 percent of teachers recommend the school. Three years into its turnaround, Brennan/Rogers has seen much more positive results: 91 percent of parents and 83 percent of teachers recommend the school.

• Fifty-seven percent of Barnard School teachers recommend their school, up 24 percent over the prior year.

• Truman School is a very unpopular place to work: Just 15 percent of teachers said they recommend the school.

• Troup and Clinton Avenue schools also had low ratings: 26 and 27 percent of teachers recommend the schools respectively.

• Hyde and Bishop Woods schools both saw approval ratings drop significantly among parents, staff and teachers.

• New Haven Academy got high satisfaction ratings: 92 percent of parents and 85 percent of teachers “recommend” the school.

• Hillhouse High showed significant drops in approval. Click here for a related story.

Asked to respond to the red flags at some schools, Harries replied, “There’s an individual story happening in each and every one of our schools. The results on different questions highlight that. I frankly think at many of our schools, there are causes of concern and also reasons for celebration.”

Harries was asked specifically what should be done about Hillhouse High. He declined to get into details.

“Hillhouse, like every one of our school communities, needs to come together, look at the school survey, and figure out how to strengthen their school community,” he replied.

Hillhouse Principal Kermit Carolina, who’s running for mayor, plans to launch a robust defense at a candidates’ debate Friday night at 6:30 at Varick Memorial Zion Church at 242 Dixwell Ave.

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posted by: JohnTulin on June 21, 2013  9:53am

Ask anyone who works there, the Hillhouse numbers are no surprise - the school has turned into a zoo.  Its like the principal is off running for mayor, or something.

posted by: Kathy B on June 21, 2013  10:19am

I am extremely proud to be part of the Fair Haven School community. On my worst day, there is no place I’d rather be! Without question, our demographics pose significant challenges in academic achievement; and we continuously strive to overcome them. The tier III rating took some wind out of our sails, but the school climate surveys validate who and what we are at Fair Haven! Our students, families, and staff feel safe, valued, and supported, no matter what their assessment scores, economic status, or TEVAL ratings are. They say actions speak louder than words…and in this case, numbers too!

posted by: westville man on June 21, 2013  10:52am

@ JohnTulin-  yeah, right, except if you count the STAFF that works there- overwhelming support of the school.  Parents, too.  Perhaps some teachers don’t like doing the extra duties required under Carolina to change the direction of the school.  The ones I know love what he’s brought to the school.
At tonight’s debate, he will reveal the specific stats on the improvement at Hillhouse. Hard to argue with test score improvement, lower drop out rates and increased graduation rates.

posted by: Razzie on June 21, 2013  11:09am

@ John Tulin—
I don’t think anyone notices because Garth Harries is too busy campaigning for School Superintendant. Maybe he’s afraid to rock the boat over at HH.

From Westville Man it sounds like the Principal has some numbers that nobody else is privy to. I can’t wait!

posted by: westville man on June 21, 2013  12:22pm

Razzie, they’re not HIS numbers, so obviously others are privy to them- as they are the ones compiling the statistics.

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 21, 2013  7:51pm

Ass’t Super Garth Harries is quoted above, “Hillhouse, like (1) every one of our school communities, (2) needs to come together, look at the school survey, and (3)figure out how to strengthen their school community.”

(1) As individual learning communities in different neighbors, each school has its own “gestalt” that those on the ground can usually best address.

(2) Every individual school must unite under a common purpose to best work toward encouragement and achieving common goals.

(3) Every individual in every school can contribute to the solutions to uplift and strengthen the ties that bind.

Those three elements of this ‘rule’ laid out by Mr. Harries are profound and give me hope that he may be a forward thinking superintendent after all.

You have my interest, Ass’t Superintendent Harries.

Show me more.

posted by: UrbanEducator on June 22, 2013  9:49am

So once again the climate survey shows how poorly New Haven school are run…yes RUN. I will point out one school in particular, Celentano. The current principal has been there for several years, and the school is still failing. The climate survey points out serious issues that have not been addressed.  Teachers love the students, trust and work hard with each other. 

Read the Teacher survey. They have been saying for years that the Principal is not supportive or effective. Compare this year to the last few years, and you will see a pattern. When will failing administrators be replaced? We have no problem turning around schools when the teachers are replaced, now lets get the ineffective administrators out…Starting at Celentano!!! In her first few years, the principal essentially turned around her own school by forcing teachers to leave. Some were humiliated into retirement, some forced to leave the profession, and many left and are now flourishing in other NH schools or other districts. It is amazing how easily an administrator can do this…

More evidence of poor administration, is at Troup. The principal at Troup has another poor survey. And guess what…the principal at Troup used to be the assistant principal at Celentano!!! Bad administrators training more bad administrators!!!

Great job Mayo…

The smartest thing the BOE can do is to hire a Supt. from out of state, with no ties to anyone working in New Haven, and then CLEAN HOUSE on the administration and really put Kids First!!!

Teachers in New Haven are the hardest working teachers in the state. They do more with less than most other teachers. And at some schools they do this while being subjected to demeaning and degrading verbal assaults from their administrators. 

Mayo and Harries don’t want to know what is really going on in NH schools. If they did, all they would have to do is ask the teachers at these schools…oh wait, the teachers won’t talk because they will be targeted and forced out.

posted by: Bishop on June 23, 2013  9:02am

How can you call any of this data valid when the district-wide response rate was 78%, meaning that almost a QUARTER of the families in the city didn’t respond?

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