Don't Call It A Comeback

Folks, I've been remiss in blogging. But I've been thinking about you. Hi Mom. Good news.

New Leaders For New Schools has a grant program called EPIC. NLNS hires Mathematica, a wonky think tanky organization. Mathematica crunches student achievement data to compare charters across the USA. Then NLNS awards Gold and Silver medal winners. These schools then share best practices with the world. The teachers and leaders get $$ bonuses from NLNS.

Shout outs to:

*Thabiti, Meg, and all the good folks at Codman

*Former MATCH special ed teacher Joanne Liu, now ass't principal at West Denver Prep

*Caleb Hurst-Hiller: on the hoops court, he lowers his shoulder and drives to the hoop, and evidently that's how he rolls as principal at Cambridge Community

*Our brethen at Community Day Charter in Lawrence (which helped us open our new elementary)

*Nella and all her teacher peeps at YES

*Katie, Jenna, Eileen, Courtney and all the Boston Collegiates (Ray?!)

*Emily and (Heartbroken Baltimore Ravens fan) "Full" Kenny W of DC Prep

*All the wonderful MATCH School folks that I hear toiling right outside the cell store, at this very moment (and it's 5.24pm).

NLNS writes:

The award-winning schools listed below have ranked the highest of 179 charter schools from 24 states and the District of Columbia. This is the fifth and final cohort of award-winning schools in the EPIC National Charter School Consortium. Over the five years, 384 schools have participated in the consortium and 97 EPIC school awards have been granted. To view a complete list of Cohort 5 schools, please click here ( 2011-12 EPIC National Charter Schools and Winners).

GOLD GAIN SCHOOLS Schools are listed alphabetically. Gold-gain schools are the highest ranking schools in the value-added analysis completed by Mathematica Policy Research.

MATCH Charter Public High School, Boston, MA

Reynolds Arthur Academy, Troutdale, OR

West Denver Prep Harvey Park Campus, Denver, CO

SILVER GAIN SCHOOLS Schools are listed alphabetically. Silver-gain schools are the next highest ranking schools in the value-added analysis completed by Mathematica Policy Research.

Boston Collegiate Charter School, Boston, MA

Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester, MA

Community Charter School of Cambridge, Cambridge, MA

Community Day Charter Public School, Lawrence, MA

DC Prep Academy Edgewood Middle Campus, Washington, D.C.

KIPP Journey Academy, Columbus, OH

Leadership Public Schools Hayward, Hayward, CA

Leadership Public Schools Richmond, Richmond, CA

Pride Academy Charter School, East Orange, NJ

Voices College-Bound Language Academy, San Jose, CA

YES Prep Gulfton, Houston, TX

If you go to their EPIC website, you can watch videos of best practices. MATCH-related stuff includes:

a. Maximizing School Leaders' Time and Impact Through a Leadership Team Structure

b. Strategies for School-Improvement Action-Planning

c. Building University Partnerships to Provide Student Supports

* * *

Allow me to make two nerdy observations:

1. Recently, Linda Darling Hammond and other Stanford researchers cautioned on the use of Value-Added assessment for evaluating individual teachers.

They wrote:

Using VAMs for individual teacher evaluation is based on the belief that measured achievement gains for a specific teacher’s students reflect that teacher’s “effectiveness.” This attribution, however, assumes that student learning is measured well by a given test, is influenced by the teacher alone, and is independent from the growth of classmates and other aspects of the classroom context. None of these assumptions is well supported by current evidence.

In this particular award, no individual teachers are measured. Just "whole schools." I want to zoom in on the "influenced by the teacher alone" observation. I believe 100% of our teachers would agree with the notion our kids making some nice test score gains was not solely due to teachers. The MATCH Corps tutors and a great staff (who do the really thankless tasks) are a key part of our school.

2. My guess is that after 2013, our 5-year EPIC award winning streak will end. That's because, starting next year, our 10th graders (who take MCAS, measured by EPIC) will be "home-grown." They'll be our first cohort that comes from our middle school. It opened in 2008. Because of the great work of our middle school teachers and team, 9th graders now arrive to our high school at a much higher academic level than previous MATCH 9th graders (who came from dozens of middle schools spread around Boston).

That's good, in that their absolute MCAS scores as 10th graders will be higher. They'll be even more on track to do well in college.

But from Mathematica's technical point of view, those 2014 MATCH 10th graders MCAS gains will be less dramatic (because they'll have a higher starting point), and probably not at the winning level anymore....