Are Bridgeport public schools failing our children?
Critics of education reform tend to blame poverty and external factors as the main reasons students perform poorly in urban school districts. I do not want to discount poverty as a factor, which is certainly an issue that affects school performance. However, it’s clear that we could be doing better for our students.
Take a look at Park City Prep, a state-funded charter middle-school that’s been open for eight years and has gained a reputation for success. The Connecticut Post ran an article this Friday that focused on school’s move from the Singer Factory Building on Barnum Ave to its new location at the former Bead Chain Manufacturing building on the west side.
The article also looked at the school’s performance. Park City’s test scores far exceed the city’s averages in both reading and math:
In a city where some 33.7 percent of students met the math goal on the Connecticut Mastery Test and 45.3 percent met the reading goal in 2013, Park City Prep students far exceeded expectations and the state average. This year, 73.3 percent of Park City eighth graders met the goal in math and 79.4 percent of seventh graders met the goal in reading
“I am getting the results I hoped I would,” said Ravage [Park City Prep’s Director]. What he looks for is the amount of improvement students make over the three years they are at the school.
Park City Prep recruits students from all over the city. It has a special education population comparable to the city, but very few English Language Learners.
Another interesting point: Anti-reform critics will usually point to high suspension rates as a reason for charter success. Park City, however, is able to maintain high test scores while serving similar populations of students and cutting the school’s suspension rate in half:
In 2010-11, 75 in-school suspensions were served and 25 out of school suspensions. Last year, that number was down to 25 in-school, 1 expulsion, and 23 out-of-school suspension, most of which were one or two days in duration, Ravage said.
Earlier this year, the state took charter schools to task for having much higher student suspension rates than traditional public schools.
“We don’t suspend for minor infractions,” Ravage said. There is also a concerted effort to intervene early so that misbehavior does not escalate.
To read full article: [Connecticut Post, 9/13/2013]