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Investment Schools see signs of progress


Midyear reports on CMSD’s 13 Investment Schools shows signs of progress in District buildings targeted for immediate and dramatic reform.
The District will review the reports (find the reports here) with parents in meetings next week. Though results vary by school, the reports show that, overall, students’perceptions of school safety have improved. So has parent and community participation.

Investment Schools At seven of the 10 K-8 schools in the group, scores on second-quarter assessments surpassed those from last spring’s state achievement tests. Assessments at three high schools had not been completed and will be covered in a third-quarter report.

The academic gains are slight and scores remain low, said Morgan Hall, executive director of school performance. But she said the test results are encouraging to see so early in the transformation process.

"We have been focusing on culture, building a safe environment,” she said. “It looks like it’s on its way to working.”

The assessments administered by the District have proved to be accurate predictors of how students will score on the state achievement test given in April.

Schools that scored better on the second-quarter assessments than they did on last year’s state achievement test include Robert H. Jamison, Luis Munoz Marin, Mound-STEM, Robinson G. Jones, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Walton and Anton Grdina.

Kenneth W. Clement virtually matched its spring score. And while Case’s score trailed its mark from last year, the school improved from its September assessment.

Scores went down at Alfred K. Benesch. CMSD tried a “restart” at Benesch this year, closing the former Carl and Louis Stokes Central Academy and moving the students to Benesch, a new building, with a different principal and teachers. But nationally, the restart model has demonstrated better improvements overall than other transformation models.

CMSD Chief Academic Officer Michelle Pierre-Farid said the District will intensify intervention at Benesch. She noted that the school is adjusting to a drastic overhaul.

“This is not what we want, but we knew this was going to be one of our harder schools to turn around,” Pierre-Farid said. She said the District expects to see dramatic improvement at Benesch over the long term.
The other Investment Schools are Collinwood, Lincoln-West and John Adams high schools.

The percentage of students who perceive the atmosphere at the 13 Investment Schools to be safe and respectful increased faster than the improvement for the District as a whole when surveys from May and October are compared.

Family and community engagement also has grown. Nine schools that had data for comparison reported a combined 53 events with total attendance of 2,707 people by midyear, an increase from 37 events and 1,321 attending at the same point last year. Overall, during the reporting period, the 13 schools held 71 events and drew wn attendance of 4,063.  

Student attendance remains a problem, particularly in the three high schools.

Average student attendance for the 13 schools was about 83.9 percent in the second quarter, down from about 86.3 percent and well below the state target of 93 percent.

Attendance among instructional staff averaged 95.5 percent in the second quarter, down from 96.2 in the first quarter. But the numbers reached 98 percent in some buildings andare higher than those for District overall.

The Investment Schools fall into three categories, each with a different focus.

Robert H. Jamison, Luis Munoz Marin, Kenneth W. Clement and Mound-STEM are focusing on “Readiness to Learn.” Strategies include maintaining a clean building and positive tone, coaching teachers who need help managing student behavior and improving cooperation between educators, families and outside service providers.

Case, Robinson G. Jones, Walton and Franklin D. Roosevelt are focusing on “Readinessto Teach,” which includes giving teachers extra time for collaboration, holding adults accountable for student success, using technology to engage students, training in the use of data to meet students’ individual needs and using curriculum to support high-quality instruction for English language learners and special-education students.

Anton Grdina, Alfred A. Benesch, Collinwood, John Adams and Lincoln-West are focusing on “Readiness to Act.”  Strategies include giving principals flexibility with their budgets to meet student needs, freeing the schools from unnecessary bureaucracy, coaching principals in how to lead change and expanding partnerships with outside groups.

The District and the United Way of Greater Cleveland recently announced agencies that will coordinate community “wraparound” services for students and families in the 13 Investment Schools and four other buildings.

For example, Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland is working with Franklin D. Roosevelt School and established a club in the school. The club provides students with tutoring and after-school activities and, with the help of the Cleveland Foodbank, serves them meals.