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Principals Discuss Ways To Help Struggling City Schools Make The Grade

STEVEN GOODE

February 04, 2010

HARTFORD - Individual attention, longer school days, block scheduling, daily student assessments and Saturday academies are just some of the ways that principals of 13 struggling city schools are preparing their students for upcoming standardized testing.

Principals of schools that have been identified as failing to meet performance requirements were called to a meeting this week with the school board and Superintendent Steven Adamowski to discuss their efforts, show how they are making progress and, sometimes, to ask for help. It was the third year for such meetings.

"Last year I sat in this chair and asked for help," Michael Lorenzo, principal of the M.D. Fox CommPact Elementary School told the board. "I truly hope that I will not be sitting here next year."

Lorenzo, who thanked the board and Adamowski for the assistance he got last year, and other principals explained what they have been doing to prepare students for the Connecticut Mastery Test and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, and also shared student assessments that compared performance in the first and second quarters of the school year.

Lorenzo pointed out that the percentage of students at his school performing at or above the proficient level on a mock mastery test math exam increased from 21 percent to 38 percent from the first to second quarter, while the percentage of students performing below the basic level on that test decreased from 46 percent to 33 percent.

The meeting also allowed administrators such as Stacey McCann, principal of Bellizzi Middle School, to be frank about what isn't going well.

McCann, who became principal of the school this year, said the school is heading in the right direction, but added that not everyone at the school has bought into what she called a "paradigm shift to focus on learning and teaching."

"There's a need for some staffing changes," McCann said.

School board Chairwoman Ada Miranda said the meetings are helpful for the principals because they reinforce accountability and the administration's focus on data to craft changes in instruction.

"It forces them to stay on top of their scores and what they are doing to improve," Miranda said

She said the process also allows the board to better predict how students in struggling schools are likely to do on standardized tests.

Miranda said the reviews also allow the board to focus on schools that are struggling the most, although she said she prefers not to call them "low-performing."

"They are moving in the right direction. That's what is most important," she said.

The schools sending representatives to the meeting were: Bulkeley Lower School, Hartford Public High School Nursing Academy, Hartford Public High School Law and Government Academy, Bellizzi Middle School, Betances Elementary School, Burns Latino Studies Academy, Burr Elementary, Clark Elementary and Middle School, M.D. Fox CommPACT School, McDonough Elementary, Milner Core Knowledge Academy, Moylan Elementary and Sanchez Elementary.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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