Baltimore

Opportunity Schools

Vol. 2

Today’s public high school landscape
and how we can improve it
A Marylandcan research report
scroll to continue
  • Baltimore’s
    current public
    high schools

Introduction

Introduction

Even before we finished our Baltimore Opportunity Schools report last May, we knew we needed to do a follow-up report on high schools. Our data showed that no non-entrance criteria public high schools in Baltimore were leading children from low-income households to performance levels comparable to our state averages on the Maryland High School Assessments. Those data have not changed. Recent events have made the need for this report even more clear and urgent.

On a cool, clear afternoon in April, much of the city of Baltimore erupted into looting, property destruction, and confrontations with police that had not occurred here in decades. Freddie Gray’s death in police custody catapulted the city into an unrest—also known as the “Baltimore Uprising”—that gripped the nation. The first acts of property destruction, committed by high school students, were a cry for help from children whose needs had been deplorably neglected for far too long. Comments made to the media during the unrest made it clear that Gray’s death was the latest manifestation of deep systemic problems in the city including, and perhaps especially, the lack of economic opportunity in many communities.

A lack of these types of opportunities in communities has many causes including, but not limited to, a lack of high-quality education. Economic opportunity requires the implementation of successful policies in multiple areas. Effective education policy is among them. When children are not educated to create or capitalize on economic opportunity, there are few ways for a community to improve its economic prospects. Reports like this one can often seem far-removed from the day-to-day challenges that advocates and policymakers work to remedy. But the events in Baltimore this past spring serve as an acute reminder that current policies, including education policies, leave many Baltimoreans woefully underserved, without opportunities to improve their economic situations, and in desperate need of leaders who will create policy for their educational and communal well-being.

Our primary concern at MarylandCAN is to increase the number of high-quality public school seats for children from low-income households. But we are also extremely concerned about the city of Baltimore as a whole. If Baltimore—or any city or town—is to have a future of prosperity, safety, and equality of opportunity, it has to provide its children high school education that prepares them for a future that includes postsecondary education, careers that will earn them livable wages, and the capacity to take good care of themselves and their families. We believe this report will help Baltimore progress toward that goal.

We began by taking a deeper dive into Baltimore public high school outcomes. Our previous study told us that not one non-entrance criteria public high school was leading students from low-income households to outperform the state average on either the Algebra or English High School Assessment.0 But were those same schools leading students from low-income households to perform at high levels on other metrics? And what about similar kids at our entrance-criteria public high schools? They have generally outperformed state averages. What about similar results on other metrics? In the first part of this report, we provide what we think is the most comprehensive publication of Baltimore City public high school data in at least a decade, disaggregated by school, that has ever been done. This is what the data tell us:

  • In general, Baltimore non-entrance criteria public high schools are not leading students from low-income households to achieve at acceptable levels on any metrics.
  • In general, students from low-income households at our entrance-criteria public high schools are performing at higher levels than their counterparts at non-entrance criteria high schools on all metrics, but
    • their performance is still not comparable to the performance of students from non-FARM households, and
    • when it comes to certain HSA proficiency rates, graduation rates and college persistence over the last several years, low-income students from the following non-entrance criteria high schools have at times out-performed their counterparts at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Baltimore City College, which are entrance-criteria high schools:
      • Academy for College and Career Exploration (Biology HSA 2012 and college persistence 2011)
      • Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove (Biology HSA 2012, 2014)
      • City Neighbors High School (graduation rate 2014)
      • ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School (college persistence 2011, 2012)
      • Coppin Academy (Biology HSA 2011, 2012)
      • Digital Harbor High School (college persistence 2011)
      • Edmondson-Westside High School (Biology HSA 2012)
      • Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology (Biology HSA 2012 and college persistence 2012)
      • Forest Park High School (college persistence 2011)
      • Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences (Algebra HSA 2012, Biology HSA 2012 and college persistence 2011, 2012)
      • National Academy Foundation (Biology HSA 2012 and college persistence 2011)
      • New Era Academy (Biology HSA 2012 and college persistence 2011)
      • Reginald F. Lewis High School (college persistence 2011)
      • Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy (Biology HSA 2012 and college persistence 2011).

The data clearly show that Baltimore’s children from low-income households do not have access to public high school education that adequately prepares them for postsecondary education or careers; even those who matriculate to entrance-criteria high schools do not always perform at a level comparable to children from non-FARM households or even as well as their peers at non-entrance criteria high schools. Given this reality, we were left with the question, are there any non-entrance criteria public high schools in the United States that are serving these populations better? We were relieved and encouraged to find that there are.

We talked to leaders at these schools to identify school practices and the policies that enable them that could be implemented in Baltimore. It is our hope that we can work with policymakers and other stakeholders in implementing these policies and practices. Together, we can help Baltimore students begin to break the persistent link between poverty and low high school achievement.

The Baltimore School for the Arts uses an audition or portfolio as an entrance criteria, while the remaining entrance-criteria high schools in Baltimore use a combination of test scores and grades to determine admission. They are as follows: Balitmore City College , Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Western High School, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Carver High School, Edmondson-Westside High School, and Mergenthaler High School.
Opportunity School Report
Introduction

Snapshot of Baltimore high schools

Snapshot of Baltimore high schools

There is no doubt that administrators, teachers, parents and community members have been aware of struggling Baltimore high schools for years. But even with decades of new programs and good intentions, our students still aren’t seeing the results they deserve. When examining outcomes across Maryland and in other major urban areas, both at entrance-criteria and non-entrance criteria schools, Baltimore students continue to struggle to keep up with their peers.

  • Students in Baltimore perform significantly worse on the HSA than students across Maryland.
    (See table 1)
  • Graduation rates in Baltimore are significantly lower than the rest of the state.
    (See table 2)
  • Students from Baltimore are succeeding in college at much lower rates than students across Maryland. (See table 3)
  • Of course, these achievement gaps could be a function of the urban environment and high concentration of poverty that have come to be emblematic of Baltimore’s school system. Still, other urban school districts outperform Baltimore on national assessments. (See table 4)
Table 1

2014 Maryland High School Assessment status, percent passed as of 12th grade1

Table 2

4-year high school graduation rate (class of 2014) in percentage2

Table 3

Students who enrolled in college in percentage3



Table 4

SAT Scores

Baltimore4

Dallas7

Los Angeles8

New York City6

Washington, DC5

“2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/. “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/. “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/. “NAEP Data Explorer,” National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/dataset.aspx “2012–13 Texas Academic Performance Report—Dallas ISD,” Texas Education Agency, http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/tapr/2013/static/district/d057905.pdf “Los Angeles Unified—District Summary (2014),” Education Data Partnership, http://www.ed-data.org/district/Los-Angeles/Los-Angeles-Unified “NYC Public Schools Enrollment,” New York State Education Department, http://data .nysed.gov/enrollment.php?year=2014&instid=7889678368; “NYC AP, SAT & PSAT Results 2014,” NYC Department of Education, http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/CE9139F0 -9F3A-4C42-ACB8-74F2D014802F/171385/CollegeBoard2014ResultsPublicPDF2.pdf “Facts and Figures,” District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, http://www.dcpcsb.org/facts-and-figures-student-demographics; “2014 College Bound Seniors State Profile Report District of Columbia,” The College Board, https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/sat/DC_14_03_03_01.pdf
Opportunity School Report
Snapshot of Baltimore high schools

High school data disaggregated by school

High school data disaggregated by school

Of course, on any given metric, some of Baltimore’s public high schools perform better than others. Here is the most comprehensive set of Baltimore City public high school data, disaggregated by school, that has ever been published. Each of the schools below had all grades 9 through 12 by 2014.

High school data

Basic information

Schools0

School typeTotal enrollment
Academy for College and Career ExplorationTransformation 6/120662
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High SchoolAlternative629
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual ArtsTraditional485
Baltimore City CollegeEntrance Criteria1311
Baltimore Community High SchoolAlternative 6/12677
Baltimore Polytechnic InstituteEntrance Criteria1495
Baltimore School for the ArtsEntrance Criteria393
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville CoveTraditional440
Carver Vocational-Technical High SchoolTraditional917
City Neighbors High SchoolCharter385
Claremont High SchoolSpecial Education56
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts SchoolCharter 6/12460
Coppin AcademyCharter341
Digital Harbor High SchoolTraditional1471
Edmondson-Westside High SchoolTraditional803
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High SchoolAlternative613
Forest Park High SchoolTraditional461
Frederick Douglass High SchoolTraditional1083
Friendship Academy of Engineering and TechnologyTransformation 6/120518
George W.F. McMechen High SchoolSpecial Education72
Heritage High SchoolTraditional457
Independence School Local I High SchoolCharter127
Knowledge and Success AcademyTraditional 6/12454
Maritime Industries AcademyTraditional296
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health SciencesCharter 6/12411
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High SchoolTraditional1691
National Academy FoundationTraditional 6/12858
New Era AcademyTransformation 6/120312
New Hope AcademySpecial Education - Contract140
Northwestern High SchoolTraditional543
Patterson High SchoolTraditional1079
Paul Laurence Dunbar High SchoolEntrance Criteria857
Reginald F. Lewis High SchoolTraditional325
Renaissance AcademyTraditional312
The REACH! Partnership SchoolTransformation 6/120508
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts AcademyTraditional 6/12435
W.E.B. DuBois High SchoolTraditional300
Western High SchoolEntrance Criteria1110

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

For the purposes of this report, we only included schools serving the full complement of grades nine through twelve in 2014. These schools are operated by independent education entities, and each has a specific theme and a unique curriculum that focuses on college, career or alternative programming. These schools are operated by independent education entities, and each has a specific theme and a unique curriculum that focuses on college, career or alternative programming. These schools are operated by independent education entities, and each has a specific theme and a unique curriculum that focuses on college, career or alternative programming. These schools are operated by independent education entities, and each has a specific theme and a unique curriculum that focuses on college, career or alternative programming.

Demographics

Schools

% Black% White% Hispanic% Asian% Other% FARMS% Students with disabilities
Academy for College and Career Exploration935278.522.5
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School9876.922.3
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts96386.427.8
Baltimore City College80135260.8N/A — less than 5%
Baltimore Community High School7851673.115.4
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute731754<157.5N/A — less than 5%
Baltimore School for the Arts484244325.4N/A — less than 5%
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove512522178.921.3
Carver Vocational-Technical High School981<1<182.713.9
City Neighbors High School8612<1<166.820.7
Claremont High School897491.1100.0
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School10084.126.6
Coppin Academy99<1<175.719.5
Digital Harbor High School741112278.019.1
Edmondson-Westside High School981<1<181.916.4
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School981<179.921.9
Forest Park High School98<11<180.923.5
Frederick Douglass High School98<1<1<184.026.1
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology972<1<178.824.1
George W.F. McMechen High School9333186.1100.0
Heritage High School9721<190.425.0
Independence School Local I High School55412<1267.722.3
Knowledge and Success Academy9342<1<182.629.1
Maritime Industries Academy9711<1<182.422.5
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences99<1<1<183.922.6
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School9622<1<173.214.0
National Academy Foundation9134<1192.221.9
New Era Academy9153<1<180.830.3
New Hope Academy8811<1<183.6100.0
Northwestern High School9027<182.124.6
Patterson High School539324<176.816.5
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School9621<1<173.9N/A — less than 5%
Reginald F. Lewis High School962<1<1<181.525.9
Renaissance Academy99<1<181.130.0
The REACH! Partnership School98<1<1<190.228.6
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy954<1<190.69.9
W.E.B. DuBois High School9126<181.728.9
Western High School85932<169.1N/A — less than 5%

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

Attendance and graduation

% Overall% FARMS% Overall% FARMSChronic absence % Overall% FARMS% Overall% FARMS% Dropout
SchoolsAttendance 2013Attendance 2014Graduation 2013 (5-year)Graduation 2014 (4-year)
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration83.484.280.581.339.9797969717
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School46.447.138.939.794.73537272829
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts72.072.975.075.257.38286626810
Baltimore City College95.095.094.694.29.9>95>95>95>951
Baltimore Community High School63.162.660.863.284.44435343911
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute94.994.494.694.19.6>95>9593922
Baltimore School for the Arts95.095.095.095.01.8>95>95>95>952
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove77.977.780.380.946.27077595924
Carver Vocational-Technical High School84.885.393.693.816.2>95>9585862
City Neighbors High School93.792.892.692.216.190946
Claremont High School92.392.790.589.830.0
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School95.095.090.591.19.7868677769
Coppin Academy85.784.687.587.029.2939587902
Digital Harbor High School81.981.782.983.939.47377656112
Edmondson-Westside High School84.284.384.184.443.2919279805
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School41.644.046.747.592.32326222238
Forest Park High School72.873.875.075.856.16969707318
Frederick Douglass High School85.485.777.878.360.26667575911
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology81.682.183.383.345.9727543417
George W.F. McMechen High School90.990.391.590.927.5002
Heritage High School64.665.371.272.152.17171576124
Independence School Local I High School89.790.684.585.739.77086707030
Knowledge and Success Academy83.984.386.986.724.05957605818
Maritime Industries Academy76.575.668.668.573.16363727814
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences89.788.888.888.327.8>95>95777713
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School85.885.385.485.433.0848483832
National Academy Foundation93.793.894.895.013.0858977805
New Era Academy84.784.285.587.532.9687773734
New Hope Academy67.769.764.865.360.82129142171
Northwestern High School75.676.574.075.561.56568606423
Patterson High School74.674.875.476.458.96771677224
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School91.291.290.590.326.6>95>9593932
Reginald F. Lewis High School88.388.485.686.530.46371707113
Renaissance Academy75.876.674.075.257.3768070713
The REACH! Partnership School87.887.688.587.928.28283686511
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy76.376.982.582.847.0818381824
W.E.B. DuBois High School75.976.476.475.549.07074596828
Western High School92.991.890.789.923.2>95>95>95>952

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

2014 graduation details

% Overall% Black% White% Hispanic% FARMS% Overall% Black% White% Hispanic% FARMS% Overall% Black% White% Hispanic% FARMS

Schools

Students who graduated
by passing all three HSA's
Students who graduated
by passing bridge projects
Students who graduated
by passing with a waiver
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration626154383946000
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School252523757578000
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts323230666668<5<5<5
Baltimore City College>95>95>95>95<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5
Baltimore Community High School252325757875000
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute>95>95>95>95>95<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5
Baltimore School for the Arts>95>95>95>95<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove77758772232513280000
Carver Vocational-Technical High School717168292932000
City Neighbors High School67666860333432400000
Claremont High School
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School676753333347000
Coppin Academy626262383838000
Digital Harbor High School6461796865363921323500000
Edmondson-Westside High School54535446477000
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School252526757574000
Forest Park High School394039626161000
Frederick Douglass High School505049505051000
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology525248484852000
George W.F. McMechen High School
Heritage High School383937626163000
Independence School Local I High School474347535753000
Knowledge and Success Academy646161363939000
Maritime Industries Academy393834616266000
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences707071303029000
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School605959414141000
National Academy Foundation495350514750000
New Era Academy636061384039000
New Hope Academy
Northwestern High School424242585858000
Patterson High School49477144504853294146200154
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School777677232423000
Reginald F. Lewis High School323036687064000
Renaissance Academy494946515154000
The REACH! Partnership School585850424250000
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy575757434743000
W.E.B. DuBois High School626160383940000
Western High School>95>95>9590>95<5<5<5<5<5<5<5<5

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

High stakes test information

The SAT is composed of 3 sections (Critical Reading, Math, and Writing), each with a total possible score of 800. The maximum composite score is 2400.


CompositeSAT Critical readingSAT MathSAT WritingNumber of SAT test takersTotal school enrollment TakenPassed% Pass rate% 2011% 2012% 2013% 2014
SchoolsSAT 2014AP exam 2014Annual HSA pass rate
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration107136535535166662502453514439
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School94232632129623629N/An/a19171514
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts9243333022892748570031272127
Baltimore City College13714704504512671311341962888888894
Baltimore Community High School95533030931610677N/AN/A29262619
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute147048651746637014955673456193939697
Baltimore School for the Arts15285314825167939378638188879597
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove1084376358350384402862148464237
Carver Vocational-Technical High School958321321316128917731147495962
City Neighbors High School106836934035969385N/AN/A16443441
Claremont High SchoolN/AN/AN/AN/A56N/AN/A
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School98234832730619460N/AN/A54374243
Coppin Academy101134532833856341560047474539
Digital Harbor High School10083453393242161471138141041363943
Edmondson-Westside High School979339322318119803320034303331
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School8852932903038613N/AN/A18152116
Forest Park High School97433831731936461151723192320
Frederick Douglass High School918310318290571083N/AN/A22283128
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology97433832231451518290035252826
George W.F. McMechen High SchoolN/AN/AN/AN/A72N/AN/A
Heritage High School93030731430936457170027252329
Independence School Local I High SchoolN/AN/AN/A< 5127N/AN/A42504656
Knowledge and Success Academy102835633833324454N/AN/A27321721
Maritime Industries Academy90130830428920296N/AN/A23232219
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences10513443643424241150050434148
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School9943433233282741691892244414855
National Academy Foundation98433632532267858140041373331
New Era Academy9723303093333731260046303323
New Hope AcademyN/AN/AN/A< 5140N/AN/A11111713
Northwestern High School101533933833866543290028232020
Patterson High School9723293263171031079332630283031
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School1131387367376198857807946547058
Reginald F. Lewis High School90631229729743325160022202818
Renaissance Academy97933332332335312N/AN/A42512427
The REACH! Partnership School94132630630833508N/AN/A36283029
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy97032232732169435650036394732
W.E.B. DuBois High School96033130332632300N/AN/A34273439
Western High School12824394194242371110473781687868285

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

Algebra HSA 2011–2014

Total percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced

% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMs

Schools

2011201220132014
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration60.257.768.269.366.175.965.765.765.758.252.271.0
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School34.833.830.330.131.037.236.640.932.531.137.5
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts44.447.530.443.942.351.747.247.346.740.036.5N/A
Baltimore City College95.092.095.091.592.190.387.587.487.789.690.388.6
Baltimore Community High School38.245.536.938.930.453.824.022.530.026.223.1N/A
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute95.095.095.095.095.095.095.095.095.0>95>95>95
Baltimore School for the Arts95.095.095.095.095.095.086.495.094.194.793.9
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove71.169.666.263.980.071.467.390.9
Carver Vocational-Technical High School70.750.071.763.264.258.874.674.575.068.765.3>95
City Neighbors High School53.548.061.1
Claremont High School
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School76.780.067.661.581.872.764.795.075.968.490.0
Coppin Academy88.488.986.771.869.680.064.862.569.652.156.933.3
Digital Harbor High School68.169.464.962.659.572.466.165.069.063.563.762.8
Edmondson-Westside High School63.762.468.459.658.363.659.259.060.649.547.756.1
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School45.533.349.018.618.818.227.328.325.226.716.7
Forest Park High School42.041.842.139.737.946.730.831.926.934.034.430.8
Frederick Douglass High School32.529.741.244.139.860.045.647.336.445.944.8N/A
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology49.545.257.644.350.029.445.743.452.9
George W.F. McMechen High School
Heritage High School62.561.465.953.554.150.047.954.731.448.154.515.4
Independence School Local I High School62.955.677.368.854.252.459.156.3N/A
Knowledge and Success Academy50.956.133.350.051.953.347.8
Maritime Industries Academy39.717.944.930.628.237.039.642.332.040.235.652.2
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences76.676.077.882.088.168.481.883.378.671.172.2N/A
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School84.461.986.174.073.974.265.461.673.555.355.953.8
National Academy Foundation87.183.395.083.383.184.068.567.173.748.150.036.4
New Era Academy88.587.292.956.955.063.677.075.583.353.851.361.5
New Hope Academy21.427.321.113.333.333.3N/AN/AN/A
Northwestern High School47.133.349.441.842.639.038.438.039.531.930.336.7
Patterson High School54.455.152.144.144.443.135.935.537.047.649.638.5
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School91.991.576.284.063.883.385.180.677.478.275.9
Reginald F. Lewis High School45.542.352.934.932.353.838.340.532.130.132.221.4
Renaissance Academy82.783.372.368.474.671.446.743.858.3
The REACH! Partnership School54.255.048.654.854.343.375.0
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy54.553.159.657.661.061.361.360.6
W.E.B. DuBois High School42.043.039.539.842.232.141.744.634.552.255.3N/A
Western High School95.095.094.795.095.095.093.392.095.0>95>95>95

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

Biology HSA 2011–2014

Total percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced

% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS

Schools

2011201220132014
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration82.484.376.265.965.566.762.962.363.960.453.076.7
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School30.229.420.324.36.728.628.330.026.020.546.9
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts45.644.152.240.641.137.942.54433.334.333.3N/A
Baltimore City College91.888.092.294.292.795.093.695.091.492.391.693.3
Baltimore Community High School38.727.340.648.647.850.040.840.022.622.6N/A
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute95.095.095.095.095.095.095.095.095.0>95>95>95
Baltimore School for the Arts95.095.094.793.195.095.090.995.094.985.0>95
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove64.565.268.665.090.078.175.091.7
Carver Vocational-Technical High School80.580.673.771.582.473.172.279.271.768.9>95
City Neighbors High School69.861.281.1
Claremont High School
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School66.780.059.553.872.768.962.990.064.550.090.9
Coppin Academy92.994.586.781.178.988.251.452.947.867.666.173.3
Digital Harbor High School67.268.963.260.657.868.964.663.268.360.060.559.0
Edmondson-Westside High School56.453.367.962.762.663.049.150.641.753.453.353.7
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School28.121.430.018.616.727.318.217.424.325.816.7
Forest Park High School25.122.828.223.422.825.837.135.442.929.031.59.1
Frederick Douglass High School32.532.931.438.436.545.539.640.037.540.739.4N/A
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology61.161.360.644.347.735.354.352.858.8
George W.F. McMechen High School
Heritage High School50.848.557.839.638.347.430.832.925.738.538.538.5
Independence School Local I High School82.484.654.556.370.866.772.768.8N/A
Knowledge and Success Academy34.036.625.044.151.938.741.7
Maritime Industries Academy28.529.628.228.621.446.437.638.634.837.531.054.5
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences66.760.877.865.666.763.263.653.385.764.469.4N/A
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School71.966.772.353.252.155.840.337.346.547.546.250.4
National Academy Foundation59.262.552.268.267.869.251.152.845.046.345.154.5
New Era Academy59.059.657.160.865.045.569.466.083.361.556.476.9
New Hope Academy31.130.815.813.338.940.0N/AN/AN/A
Northwestern High School42.234.843.248.048.945.048.848.450.050.051.146.7
Patterson High School53.451.361.150.949.556.446.345.947.953.755.446.2
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School62.264.254.260.843.567.570.263.569.570.367.9
Reginald F. Lewis High School25.922.434.429.226.946.234.035.529.625.027.115.4
Renaissance Academy52.654.744.742.160.660.336.733.350.0
The REACH! Partnership School37.532.548.654.857.856.760.0
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy52.854.266.765.961.061.353.351.5
W.E.B. DuBois High School45.644.847.642.345.829.649.046.655.663.865.8N/A
Western High School94.195.091.595.095.095.095.094.895.092.991.2>95

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

English HSA 2011–2014

Total percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced

% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS

Schools

2011201220132014
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration69.969.072.763.260.369.055.760.047.245.940.358.1
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School31.731.030.829.834.542.341.347.628.427.631.3
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts48.047.650.041.541.541.442.541.846.735.733.3N/A
Baltimore City College95.092.095.092.690.595.095.094.895.094.292.3>95
Baltimore Community High School42.927.345.538.943.530.828.027.530.022.624.5N/A
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute95.095.095.095.095.095.093.792.395.091.391.291.4
Baltimore School for the Arts95.095.095.086.795.092.772.795.092.485.094.9
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove59.258.047.143.370.067.263.583.3
Carver Vocational-Technical High School75.160.075.869.266.779.464.564.266.765.363.778.3
City Neighbors High School68.657.183.8
Claremont High School
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School72.780.076.981.566.766.762.980.077.470.090.9
Coppin Academy78.978.281.371.268.481.356.054.958.351.353.343.8
Digital Harbor High School52.956.344.657.154.166.752.548.563.354.463.750.0
Edmondson-Westside High School65.266.759.662.763.061.862.062.261.151.347.756.1
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School38.825.043.135.631.354.532.732.627.726.744.4
Forest Park High School42.644.440.343.544.041.936.134.042.938.034.436.4
Frederick Douglass High School40.739.245.152.651.855.650.750.850.041.444.8N/A
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology55.453.359.452.554.547.140.043.447.1
George W.F. McMechen High School
Heritage High School55.155.254.542.941.750.040.742.037.132.132.330.8
Independence School Local I High School86.182.177.375.070.866.763.656.3N/A
Knowledge and Success Academy45.346.341.758.855.659.454.2
Maritime Industries Academy44.425.948.734.735.732.131.633.825.038.337.340.9
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences72.770.077.868.961.984.268.263.378.660.069.4N/A
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School81.971.482.877.173.485.666.662.675.260.558.864.1
National Academy Foundation83.181.387.080.074.692.364.561.675.052.454.936.4
New Era Academy60.759.664.370.672.563.668.368.069.253.851.361.5
New Hope Academy33.341.710.513.335.335.7N/AN/AN/A
Northwestern High School38.840.038.745.348.235.041.542.438.533.933.335.5
Patterson High School48.346.256.338.935.053.640.837.352.141.742.140.0
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School86.587.779.386.767.486.687.285.779.578.281.2
Reginald F. Lewis High School49.147.452.943.641.757.137.637.537.928.428.826.7
Renaissance Academy85.586.573.975.762.964.549.246.858.3
The REACH! Partnership School54.252.545.751.648.941.962.5
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy51.752.456.755.759.559.752.750.0
W.E.B. DuBois High School42.139.748.848.849.546.436.438.032.144.750.0N/A
Western High School95.095.095.095.095.095.095.095.095.0>95>95>95

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

College persistence, Class of 2012

From the Maryland Report Card, "College Persistence" refers to "post-secondary enrollment of Maryland graduates."

The following percentages reflect students who both graduated from high school and matriculated into a college program.

% Overall% Black% White% Hispanic% Asian% FARMS% Overall% Black% White% Hispanic% Asian% FARMS

Schools

12 months post high school16 months post high school
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration48.750.050.953.955.458.5
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School24.124.424.027.828.227.9
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts29.729.430.532.632.433.1
Baltimore City College81.982.576.782.883.483.880.084.6
Baltimore Community High School28.633.333.333.338.933.3
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute83.185.579.536.476.982.485.687.284.654.576.985.8
Baltimore School for the Arts85.486.980.675.087.588.583.978.6
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove29.238.510.029.533.843.615.034.4
Carver Vocational-Technical High School40.941.443.744.745.247.6
City Neighbors High School
Claremont High School
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School63.663.661.963.663.661.9
Coppin Academy55.455.455.460.860.860.7
Digital Harbor High School46.650.339.649.051.056.639.651.6
Edmondson-Westside High School52.252.552.554.955.256.1
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School20.920.924.327.927.932.4
Forest Park High School39.139.140.947.047.045.5
Frederick Douglass High School24.524.726.728.628.932.0
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology61.461.666.064.865.169.8
George W.F. McMechen High School
Heritage High School31.131.428.836.136.432.7
Independence School Local I High School19.018.220.019.018.220.0
Knowledge and Success Academy43.843.841.750.050.047.2
Maritime Industries Academy33.834.731.637.738.735.1
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences66.163.271.470.971.1
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School52.353.553.857.658.959.0
National Academy Foundation63.869.145.556.365.270.945.558.3
New Era Academy29.829.834.234.034.039.5
New Hope Academy41.750.040.041.750.040.0
Northwestern High School48.449.746.551.652.349.6
Patterson High School45.649.127.330.655.646.648.352.627.330.659.348.5
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School65.366.464.070.270.668.0
Reginald F. Lewis High School37.036.741.840.740.543.3
Renaissance Academy35.634.137.837.836.440.5
The REACH! Partnership School52.151.248.752.151.248.7
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy51.652.849.452.753.950.6
W.E.B. DuBois High School42.644.544.144.346.446.2
Western High School86.989.268.887.087.489.868.887.0

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

College persistence (continued)

% Overall% Black% White% Hispanic% Asian% FARMS% Overall% FARMS% NonFARMS% 2012% 2013% 2013 CTE certificates

Schools

24 months post high school, Class of 201124 months post high school, Class of 2012College enrollmentCTE
 
Academy for College and Career Exploration62.163.561.256.662.343.542.138.90
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School34.333.728.627.931.017.612.74
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts42.242.146.734.134.730.022.917.98
Baltimore City College84.684.882.646.786.787.086.380.069.0N/A
Baltimore Community High School44.345.633.333.3N/A23.815.6N/A
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute88.088.789.175.088.486.786.986.681.068.70
Baltimore School for the Arts82.985.483.388.578.692.687.480.2N/A
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove35.434.4n/a29.532.9N/A
Carver Vocational-Technical High School52.752.747.850.039.432.732.683
City Neighbors High SchoolN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Claremont High SchoolN/AN/AN/A
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School52.952.960.972.771.475.054.542.9N/A
Coppin Academy70.370.371.960.860.761.145.941.9N/A
Digital Harbor High School47.950.857.711.850.853.454.151.041.452.159
Edmondson-Westside High School47.047.245.756.558.351.141.935.845
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School27.727.732.637.8N/A18.66.70
Forest Park High School53.353.751.348.745.559.336.325.721
Frederick Douglass High School34.234.836.130.634.019.615.821.37
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology67.073.657.160.254.20
George W.F. McMechen High SchoolN/AN/AN/A
Heritage High School43.643.641.637.734.655.627.333.07
Independence School Local I High School42.947.633.348.128.633.3n/a19.033.3N/A
Knowledge and Success Academy52.150.058.335.435.70
Maritime Industries Academy54.556.040.336.850.031.644.40
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences55.055.056.673.273.772.261.854.80
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School61.662.540.060.861.559.147.335.7163
National Academy Foundation72.578.241.773.368.162.581.057.750.632
New Era Academy56.458.559.134.039.5N/A29.540.4N/A
New Hope Academy16.718.241.740.0N/A33.30N/A
Northwestern High School51.251.952.951.260.744.226.510
Patterson High School44.646.829.340.760.044.949.850.049.141.238.255
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School77.878.171.969.376.157.561.10
Reginald F. Lewis High School51.651.752.344.447.828.636.438.23
Renaissance Academy47.447.437.840.5N/A33.334.4N/A
The REACH! Partnership School54.251.3N/A34.042.414
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy56.556.558.254.953.0N/A46.250.012
W.E.B. DuBois High School49.049.346.647.850.536.437.132.20
Western High School90.391.382.491.788.487.889.287.071.013

Sources:
- “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/.
- “School Profiles,” Baltimore City Public Schools, http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24386.
- The data unavailable in the school report cards or school profiles was obtained through data requests filed with Baltimore City Public Schools.

School climate survey data

“The annual school survey is given to students in grades 3 to 12, all school-based staff, and parents of students in pre-K to grade 12. Three separate indices were calculated that represent a combination of student, staff, and parent reports. They reflect key measures of school climate as defined by the National School Climate Center. Data are not reported when any of the three groups had 5 or fewer respondents, or if the response rates for students or staff were less than 30 percent. The Physical Security Index measures the extent to which students and staff feel safe in a school building, parents feel that their child is safe, and students fighting and bringing weapons to school is not a problem. The Respectful Relationships Index measures the extent to which students and staff report that there are respectful relationships among students and between students and staff at their school. The School Connectedness Index, which was introduced in 2012–13, measures the extent to which students and staff feel they belong at the school, that parents feel welcome, that staff and parents work closely to meet students’ needs, and that the administration is responsive to parent and staff concerns. Data are for the school year ending in the calendar year indicated (i.e., “2014” indicates the 2013–14 school year).”3 Each index has a possible value from 0–100.

Physical securityRespectful relationshipsSchool ConnectednessOverall average
Academy for College and Career Exploration64426557
Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School71496060
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts74597369
Baltimore City College91748583
Baltimore Community High School81668577
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute90858386
Baltimore School for the Arts96939394
Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove83798984
Carver Vocational-Technical High School67447361
City Neighbors High School85719082
Claremont High School95909092
ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School80627372
Coppin Academy77647672
Digital Harbor High School71507866
Edmondson-Westside High School72588271
EXCEL Academy at Francis M. Wood High School83618075
Forest Park High School62386555
Frederick Douglass High School77768680
Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology66477462
George W.F. McMechen High School94959896
Heritage High School73637470
Independence School Local I High School91839188
Knowledge and Success Academy72548169
Maritime Industries Academy55306349
Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences73477063
Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School65426758
National Academy Foundation72526864
New Era Academy34255036
New Hope Academy74677472
Northwestern High School68506962
Patterson High School61477862
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School78537268
Reginald F. Lewis High School58406354
Renaissance Academy50447255
The REACH! Partnership School77587269
Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy77366760
W.E.B. DuBois High School71407060
Western High School78526465
This is the description of the School Survey that appears in each school’s School Profile.
Opportunity School Report
High school data disaggregated by school

Proof points: Non-entrance criteria high schools outside Baltimore leading children from low-income households to perform at high levels

Proof points: Non-entrance criteria high schools outside Baltimore leading children from low-income households to perform at high levels

While the data above paint a bleak picture, there’s still good news. Public high schools elsewhere have proven that it’s possible for our students to perform at higher levels. Across the country, there are non-entrance criteria public high schools proving that poverty doesn’t have to dictate outcomes. There’s so much we can learn from these success stories.

To drive this conversation, we set out to find high schools that are successfully serving large percentages of low-income students by breaking the link between poverty and low academic achievement. We sought out and accessed as much data as we could about high schools from around the country with high poverty rates and that take the SAT has their primary test. We were only able to find 10 schools that serve similar populations and do not have entrance criteria. Among those, 9 of the 10 turned out to be charter schools. We examined the data, spoke to their leaders, and listened to their stories. At these schools, SAT scores are higher than they are at any non-entrance criteria high schools in Baltimore. College matriculation rates are higher. All these schools are getting so many things right. We can learn from their efforts, adapt and replicate what they do, and make Baltimore’s high schools as worthy of praise and accolades as those featured here. What follows are profiles of 10 schools that are beating the odds for kids from backgrounds similar to those of our students.

BCPSS Data: The Baltimore City Public School System releases data regarding composite SAT average scores, high school FARM rates, AP exam pass rates, post secondary enrollment, and 4 year high school graduation rates, among other data. In the following pages, BCPSS data will appear along proof point schools to provide a benchmark for these schools' ongoing success.

Opportunity School Report
Proof points: Non-entrance criteria high schools outside Baltimore leading children from low-income households to perform at high levels

Drivers of success

Drivers of success

In our conversations with school leaders from these beating-the-odds schools, four major themes came up again and again: the importance of school-level autonomy, a relentless culture of high expectations, targeted individual student support systems, and a strong sense of community.

1. School-level decision-making power (identified by 8 of the 10 schools)

More than any other factor, school leaders value the autonomy to operate their schools in a way that best serves the needs of their unique student populations. From single year, performance-based teaching contracts at Mater Academy Lakes High School, to extended school days and years at MATCH Charter Public School, school leaders are making decisions that may not be appropriate for all schools, but that meet the needs of their high-poverty student populations. Eight of the ten leaders we spoke to highlighted the importance of school-level autonomy in their work.

“Flexibility allows us to focus on students and the instruction.”

Joshua Hartford, Principal
Animo Pat Brown, Los Angeles, California

2. Relentless culture of high expectations (identified by 7 of the 10 schools)

Over and over again, we heard about the importance of emphasizing high expectations, and holding staff and students accountable to them. In schools like Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, college preparedness is a given. At Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School, Executive Director Alexandra Pardo rates high expectations as the number one factor leading to student success in her school.

“We encourage them to think beyond high school, into a college future.”

Diane Bassett, Coordinator of Planning
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, Boston, Massachusetts

3. Targeted individual student support systems (identified by 7 of the 10 schools)

All of the schools featured in this report serve a large proportion of students who come from challenging backgrounds. These students represent a wide range of academic and emotional skills. In order to accommodate the different needs of all their students, many of these schools have in-school tutoring programs or systems in place to give students the individualized, targeted attention they need to catch up and excel. In schools like MATCH Charter Public School, students have access to up to two hours per day of individual tutoring. At Boston Prep, students who are struggling to read grade level texts receive additional reading intervention classes and support. And at Global Learning Charter School, students are assessed before the school year begins, which allows teachers to monitor and adjust to individual student needs from the first day.

“The school design is such that every student has access to a tutor.”

Tobey Jackson, Chief Academic Officer
MATCH Charter Public School, Boston, Massachusetts

4. Strong sense of community (identified by 5 of the 10 schools)

The importance of establishing and maintaining positive school culture, climate and community came up again and again. At Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy, teachers are available to parents and students by cell phone 24 hours a day, fostering an incredible sense of trust between students and staff. At David Crockett High School, students participate in regular “family groups” to discuss their thoughts and feelings about various school-related issues. And to establish a culture of trust among staff at Uplift Peak Preparatory High School, teachers work in grade and subject learning-communities to share best practices and create new materials.

“The accolade I most treasure is not the improvement in the data, but the climate at Crockett.”

Craig Shapiro, Principal
David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas
Opportunity School Report
Drivers of success

Policy implications

Policy implications

When we began gathering data for this report, we scoured the country for any school that was delivering kids the promising results they deserve. In the last iteration of the Opportunity Schools report—one that examined Baltimore’s current Opportunity and On-the-Cusp Schools, which happened to be solely at the elementary and middle school levels—we were gratified to find both traditional public schools and public charter schools that were meeting the mark. When we started our search for high-quality high schools for children from low-income households, the data painted a different picture.

In this case, we were only able to confirm one traditional public high school—David Crockett High School—that was leading low-income students to attain SAT scores comparable to those of higher-income students and exceeding some of Baltimore’s entrance-criteria schools. That came as a surprise to us. We know high-quality educators teach at both traditional public and public charter schools. We know both types of schools are cornerstones in their communities. We know that both types of schools are full of students who want to learn and succeed.

A deeper dive into the schools we found showed that the most consistent factor driving these schools’ success is the freedom and flexibility to make decisions at the school-level, including, for the nine public charter school operators, the freedom to employ their principals and teachers. The autonomy offered to public charter schools positions them to develop school-level, targeted solutions for the specific needs of their students. But currently, public charter schools in Baltimore have neither the level of autonomy, nor the successful student outcomes that charters around the country are able to deliver. There are thousands of children in Baltimore in dire need of high schools with the same autonomy.

The state of Baltimore City today for many of its residents is a very delicate and troubling one, as we saw with the recent unrest. Baltimore’s current high school landscape is not showing any signs of preparing students to create a brighter future for the city or themselves. If every high school student in Baltimore attended a school like the 10 schools featured here, what a brighter future the students and the city would have. Nine of the ten schools featured are run by organizations that have the autonomy to employ principals and teachers and give them the flexibility to build curricula, targeted systems of support, and deeply rewarding school communities. The results speak for themselves. The children of Baltimore need schools like these.

Unfortunately, unlike almost any other state in the country—certainly the states in which the ten featured high schools are located—Maryland has a prohibition on organizations employing public school principals and teachers. Based on the data presented in this report, there appears to be no path toward improved outcomes for students that does not include this policy. Lawmakers in Maryland have a moral and socioeconomic imperative to authorize strong nonprofits to employ public high school principals and teachers—that include strong systems of oversight and accountability. This authorization could come in the form of a revision to the Maryland Public Charter School Law and/or in the form of a new law that creates a new type of school. However the legislature does it, the children of Baltimore need it; if the legislature does not, we have every reason to believe that Baltimore will continue to offer children from low-income households no opportunity to attain a public high school education that truly prepares them for college and careers.

Opportunity School Report
Policy implications

Conclusion

Conclusion

We were thrilled to highlight Baltimore’s own Opportunity Schools at elementary and middle school levels last year. And we hope that in the future, there will be high schools in Baltimore to honor as well. But we’re not there yet, which means we must make significant changes.

The ten schools featured in this report serve kids with many of the same challenges faced by kids in Baltimore. The leaders and teachers in these schools work tirelessly to help their students succeed, and they do it with four important ingredients:

  • school-based decision-making power,
  • high expectations,
  • individualized support for students, and
  • strong sense of community.

None of these happens in isolation. We need strong leaders and teachers every step of the way. We need an environment that gives nonprofits, teachers and administrators the freedom to do what they do best. We hope this report starts a conversation to create similar environments for success in Baltimore. We hope it is the first step in better high schools for Baltimore kids. They deserve nothing less, and the city’s future depends upon it.

Opportunity School Report
Conclusion

Appendices

Appendices

A. Methodology

While conducting the research for our Baltimore Opportunity Schools report,18 we were disheartened to see that none of Baltimore City’s high schools met the criteria to qualify as an Opportunity School or even an On-the-Cusp School. There were no non-selective high schools in Baltimore where low-income students outperformed overall state proficiency rates on the Maryland High School Assessment in either English or Algebra in both 2012 and 2013. In fact, even one of the entrance criteria schools failed to qualify as an Opportunity School.

This dim reality made our job particularly difficult when it came to developing policy recommendations to increase the number of Opportunity School seats for children from low-income Baltimore households. While the existence of Opportunity Schools at the elementary and middle school levels made it possible to build on the schools’ success at those levels, the absence of Opportunity Schools at the high school level left Baltimore without effective assets upon which to build. As a result, we realized we needed to look nationwide for non-entrance criteria high schools that were leading low-income students to levels of achievement higher than Baltimore’s high schools are. We hoped to learn from, and help Baltimore replicate, the success of these schools. We thus undertook to identify and examine these schools.

In identifying schools to be highlighted for the report, it was important that any school chosen, regardless of whether it was a traditional public school or a public charter school, approximate Baltimore City’s rate of low-income students. As a result, we used 67 percent as the minimum threshold for the percentage of low-income students that a school must have in order for that school to be included. This number matches the lowest FARMs rate in a Baltimore City high school (City Neighbors High School), as reported by the Maryland State Department of Education. 19

Additionally, it was important to determine a clear metric that could be used to compare levels of academic achievement. While it was appropriate to consider achievement on state tests in our previous report, such a comparison is less helpful when making comparisons across multiple states, for a variety of reasons. The most important of these are that state tests do not necessarily translate well from one state to another, and proficiency rates in one state may reflect something entirely different in another state.

With this in mind, we chose the SAT as our baseline academic achievement metric. It is used widely across the United States, and more frequently in Baltimore City high schools than the ACT. We looked only at schools where the majority of students took the SAT as their college admission test.

Finally, we set a score of 1085 as the lower limit SAT composite score on all three sections of the test, below which we would not consider schools for the report. This number was chosen because it represents an average SAT score that is higher than the highest composite score of any non-selective high school in Baltimore City.20 Although this was our original minimum threshold, every school featured in this report scored well above that mark.

Nationwide, there are over 26,000 public high schools. In order to identify a set of high schools21 that met our criteria, we relied on the Best High Schools, produced annually by U.S. News & World Report, and several state-based SAT rankings of top high schools.22

The Best High Schools database aggregates data for more than 21,000 public high schools in the United States. The rankings are primarily based on school performance on statewide assessments and college readiness. The rankings also take into consideration the performance of black, Hispanic and low-income students as well as AP and IB test data for all students.23

In our search through the Best High Schools database, we identified a preliminary set of schools with college readiness or proficiency rates similar to the rest of their state (near or above the state average). A quick check within the database was made to ensure that each school identified this way met our requirement for the percentage of low-income students. After the list was compiled, we then researched SAT scores for those schools.

For every school identified either in the U.S. News database or a separate listing, we then did a final check to ensure that the school did not have entrance criteria, a majority of students took the SAT, the average school-wide SAT scores exceeded 1085, and the percentage of low-income students in the school exceeded 67 percent. After all these steps, we found ourselves with a list of 18 schools. We had gone through this entire process with no bias or anticipation as to how many of these schools would be traditional public schools and how many would be public charter schools. As it turned out, 16 were public charter schools and two were traditional public schools; we made a concerted effort to identify more traditional public high schools leading students from low-income households to achieve at high levels, but almost every time we thought we found one, it turned out the school had entrance criteria. We also monitored, when possible, attrition rates and special education population rates. All of our featured schools serve populations of students with disabilities (ranging from 4 to 17 percent). While the proof point high schools included in this report may have lower than average rate of special education or special needs students, they continue to outperform Baltimore high schools that have similar, and in some cases lower, rates of special education students. Additionally, where attrition data was available it averaged seven percent.24

In all cases, data was used from the most recent year for which it was available, usually 2013 or 2014. If information was not available at the state report card website, we used information made available by the school or other sources (noted in the footnotes throughout the report).

We reached out by telephone call or email to the 18 schools, and if a school did not respond to our initial outreach, we tried finding people we knew who knew people at the school to try to get a response. In the end, a total of ten schools responded to an interview request (nine public charter schools and one traditional public high school) and each of these ten schools is featured in the report.

Despite our best efforts, we know that there are very possibly other high schools throughout the country that meet our criteria. However, it became clear to us that it was neither possible for us to ensure that we found every single one, nor necessary for the purpose of this report. The purpose of this report is to identify public high schools serving populations with poverty rates similar to those in Baltimore and gather lessons and best practices that may be applied in Baltimore. We are confident that from the schools we have identified here, there are many valuable lessons to be learned and applied.

“Baltimore Opportunity Schools (2014),” MarylandCAN: The Maryland Campaign for Achievement Now, http://marylandcan.org/research/baltimore-opportunity-schools. “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/ “2014 Maryland Report Card,” Maryland State Department of Education, http://www.mdreportcard.org/ “High School Facts at a Glance,” U.S. Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/hs/hsfacts.html “Best High Schools (2015),” U.S. News & World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools; “2013–2014 SAT Scores for Dallas-Fort Worth Schools,” Dallas, Texas Area School Information, http://dallas-area-schools.blogspot.com/2014/12/2013-2014-sat-scores-for-dallas-fort.html; “SAT scores by Massachusetts high school,” Boston.com, http://www.boston.com/yourtown/specials/2013_mean_sat_scores/; “Top Average SAT Scores,” Los Angeles Times California School Guide, http://schools.latimes.com/sat-scores/ranking/page/1/; “Summary of District, State, and National Results for SAT Reasoning Test Graduating Class of 2014,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools, http://www.dadeschools.net/mission.asp “How U.S. News Calculated the 2015 Best High Schools Rankings,” U.S. News & World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/how-us-news-calculated-the-rankings “School/District Profiles,” Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/

B. Key success factors identified by school leaders

B. Key success factors identified by school leaders

Autonomy (in operations, employment, programming, etc.)Extra instruction and support for individual studentsHigh expectations and rigorFeeling of community; positive school cultureDistrict/charter partnershipsCounseling to and through college; College mindsetSchoolwide teacher support and teaching strategiesTargeted teacher development; high teacher expectations
Boston Preparatory Charter Public School
Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School
Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy
Global Learning Charter Public School
David Crockett High School
Mater Academy Lakes High School
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Animo Pat Brown
Uplift Peak Preparatory High School
MATCH Charter Public School
Opportunity School Report
Appendices

Animo Pat Brown

Public Charter School—Los Angeles, California

APB at a glance

127920 “School Summary, Animo Pat Brown,” Ed-Data, California Department of Education, http://www.ed-data.org/school/Los-Angeles/Los-Angeles-Unified/Animo-Pat-Brown
composite SAT score (2013)

“Animo Pat Brown, Test Scores,” U.S. News & World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/districts/los-angeles-unf/animo-pat-brown-2635/test-scores

APB and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

The staff at Animo Pat Brown believes in getting the fundamentals straight. They have a strong focus on providing intensive remediation in math and English during their students’ first year in high school. Students come to APB from many of the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Los Angeles, further underscoring the importance of ensuring that they have strong command of English and math fundamentals. “We have an intervention and support section of math and one for literacy skills that all of our students take in addition to their core in the ninth grade, that helps to catch the kids up early and set them up for success,” explains Principal Joshua Hartford.

Principal Hartford attributes at least some of APB’s success to the autonomy that has come with being a charter school. “The flexibility allows us to focus on students and the instruction,” he says. The school is allowed to employ its own teachers who are free to operate outside the LAUSD’s contract. It is able to use funding without allocating dollars for expenses outside the school’s control. The school can, and has, set up a program with the aim of providing the maximum benefit to their students.

APB has school-wide professional development sessions that focus on assisting teachers in giving literacy instruction. The program isn’t limited to just English and math teachers. In fact, all teachers at APB are told to think of themselves as reading and writing teachers, regardless of their content area. With its focused approach to literacy and teaching in general, APB has essentially created a professional learning community of teachers that is passionate about teaching their students the same lessons about literacy through a variety of lenses. A school full of literacy teachers leaves virtually no cracks for students to fall through.

But staff at APB understands that its student body may be vulnerable. Students coming into APB may not know how to succeed in school, let alone navigate the confusing waters of making it to college. To address these needs, APB has implemented an advisory program that focuses on students’ extra-academic needs. For each of the four years that students attend the school, they are enrolled in an advisory class in which teachers and students discuss topics such as personal efficacy and making it to college. They are given direct instruction around requirements for going to college, as some of them will be the first in their families to attend. They are walked through the financial aid process, and the other minutiae of making it to the next level of schooling.

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Boston Preparatory

Public Charter School—Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Prep at a glance19 “Our Indicators of Success,” Boston Preparatory Charter Public School, http://www.bostonprep.org/student-success/.

133620 “2013-14 SAT Performance Report,” Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/sat/sat_perf_dist.aspx?orgcode=04160000&orgtypecode=5&TYPE=DISTRICT&fycode=2014
composite SAT score (2014)

Class of 2013, 12 months post high school

Boston Prep and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

Boston Preparatory Charter Public School, or Boston Prep as it is fondly known by community members, is a single school commonwealth charter. Separate from a charter management organization or local school district, Boston Prep operates as its own autonomous school, serving students in 6th through 12th grades. A school of 400 students, it started out with just 6th graders in 2004, and added a new grade each year. The school has a lofty goal: prepare students for success through high school and into four-year colleges.

They are good at what they do. This year, Boston Prep’s original cohort of 6th graders will be graduating from college. “We tell the students that we are in it from 6th through 16th grade, and we really mean that,” says Sharon Liszanckie, executive director of Boston Prep. At school, counselors and teachers provide strong college counseling and monitor a student’s progress with respect to where she is considering attending college. Once a student has decided where to attend, the school sticks with him or her all the way through. Boston Prep has staff that work with the students to track their progress while they are in college, and financial support funds in case the need arises for any of their alumni. An emergency financial relief fund provides micro-grants for students who may face a gap in funding that could mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out. Boston Prep has been able to provide these services by being somewhat creative with their school budget.

“We tell the students that we are in it from 6th through 16th grade, and we really mean that.”

“It may mean some larger class sizes,” says Ms. Liszanckie, but the results have been outstanding enough to warrant such creativity.

Boston Prep provides a variety of support systems to its students, 75 percent of whom come from low-income backgrounds. The school runs on an extended school day and school year schedule. It holds double block ELA and math classes for all its students. The school offers reading intervention classes for any students who are struggling to read grade level texts. Boston Prep also holds Saturday Academy, where students who are still struggling with their coursework are invited to come to school on Saturday to find assistance.

The staff members at Boston Prep know that these support systems are about showing students they can make it. Boston Prep teachers are focused on making sure students know administrators, teachers, and staff are invested in getting students to and through college from the moment they step through the door in 6th grade. They hold their kids to unmoving high expectations.

The results have been impressive: students at Boston Prep scored an average composite SAT score of 1336 last year, and 10th graders at the school ranked first in the state of Massachusetts on the state assessment (MCAS), with 100 percent of students scoring advanced or proficient in both Math and ELA. Boston Prep sends high percentages of its students to college. Of their recent high school graduates, 100 percent of them have been accepted to four-year colleges, and 100 percent of them have enrolled in some kind of post-secondary program the semester after graduating from high school. Once there, Boston Prep students continue to succeed throughout college. The school reports that 89 percent of its students who started college have made it through to graduation.

Ms. Liszanckie put it this way: “We have high expectations and a spectacular adult team in the classroom and in leadership who all hold the same high expectations. If you are not that, then you won’t be a part of our adult team.”

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Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy

Public Charter School—Los Angeles, California

Bright Star at a glance

1427
composite SAT score (2014)

Class of 2013, 12 months post high school

Bright Star and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy in Los Angeles takes the autonomy that comes with being a charter school seriously. “We have the liberty of governing ourselves because we are a charter, and we use it to do some things that other schools can’t,” says Mr. Johnnie Gonzalez, one of the school’s guidance counselors. Through highly selective programs that incentivize high performance and requisite improvements, Bright Star has been effective in keeping students excited and engaged in their learning. With the financial autonomy that comes from being a charter, Bright Star is able to set aside funding for programs that give students opportunities to earn field trips and college visits. The autonomy to operate outside of the confines of the Los Angeles Unified School District comes with other benefits, as well. “We have good attendance, good parent involvement, we can set our own hours. We stay until the work is finished,” says Mr. Gonzalez.

“We have the liberty of governing ourselves because we are a charter, and we use it to do some things that other schools can’t.”

What’s more, the school has been deliberate in establishing a culture of community. Only 20 percent of students at the school have parents who speak English as their first language; 96 percent receive free and reduced lunch at the school. Teachers realize the importance of added support when the students need it, which is why teachers and staff are always available to students and their families through their personal cell phones. Because each substitute teacher is also an instructional aid at Bright Star, students are guaranteed familiar faces in their classrooms. Staff see the benefits, too—their policies ensure that there are always staff members who know which lesson is to be taught. That system allows the staff to form a wide support network between the school, students, parents, and staff.

The supportive culture has paid off. Bright Star’s 100 percent minority student body (85 percent Latino, 15 percent black) has impressive academic statistics. Of last year’s graduating class, 85 percent went on to higher education; 75 percent of those went to a four-year college. Their AP exam pass rate of 64.5 percent beat the California state average. In the class of 2014, fewer than 30 percent of students had a total GPA of below 3.0. Their average SAT composite score last year was a 1427.12

“School Summary, Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy,” Ed-Data, California Department of Education, http://www.ed-data.org/school/Los-Angeles/Los-Angeles-Unified/Bright-Star-Secondary-Charter-Academy; additional recent data provided by school official in personal interview.
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David Crockett High School

Traditional Public School—Austin, Texas

Crockett at a glance

1284
composite SAT score (2013)

Crockett and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

When he was named Austin’s principal of the year in 2014, principal Craig Shapiro had a few things to say about why his high school is such a special place. “The accolade I most treasure is not the improvement in the data, but the climate at Crockett.”

There’s no coincidence there. At Crockett, the entire community is focused primarily on supporting its stakeholders, be they the instructors or the instructed. That philosophy, and the practices that follow, has led to across-the-board improvements on assessments, overall student grades, and graduation rates.

At Crockett, students can expect a community built around their social and emotional development. It springs from the philosophy that if a child is not “head-ready,” teachers can have little impact. The staff has worked hard to instill a family atmosphere at the school. Staff and students attend a weekly advisory program on Fridays. There, students are separated into family groups where they come together with an instructor to discuss their thoughts and feelings regarding school-related issues. Staff design and share lessons targeted around getting students to talk and think through these issues, and offer solutions and ideas of their own. Crockett also employs a full-time psychiatrist, offers tiered interventions for students in need of mental health support, and provides access to topic-specific counseling communities for its students. Taken together, innovative programs like these encourage students to develop a sense of belonging, express themselves positively and productively, and seek out tailored support systems in place to help them succeed emotionally and academically.

Students are given opportunities to showcase their ongoing learning through a “standards based grading” system. Mr. Shapiro likens it to a first-time driver’s gradual improvement over time.

“The first time she drives, jerking the car around, she gets a 40 percent... Next time, she does a little better and ends up with a 60 percent. Her final driving test grade is an 80 percent. If we average those three grades, what does she get? Sixty. Failing.” But Shapiro believes students deserve the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. At Crockett, the same student would earn an 80 percent final exam grade. This practice has increased attendance and led to across the board increases in assessment results.

Finally, teachers at Crockett take on highly collaborative roles in the development of their peers. While the principal regularly visits classrooms, he rarely evaluates teachers formally. Instead, he has commissioned teachers, assistant principals, and other staff to engage in peer-to-peer coaching. Teachers ask each other questions and give and receive feedback in peer-learning communities. Mr. Shapiro notes that this ends up being far more effective than a thinly stretched principal conducting frequent, high-pressure evaluations in the classrooms of his teachers.

A look at some of Crockett’s numbers shows his community-based approach is working. The focus on the social environment at Crockett, coupled with its innovative approach to instruction and teacher leadership has reshaped its academic atmosphere. The Class of 2013 boasted a composite SAT score of 1284.4 Attendance rates have improved by 7 percentage points since the beginning of his tenure in 2008, and suspension rates have decreased by 72 percent. It comes down to this: according to Mr. Shapiro, students and staff alike feel more comfortable on school grounds and in their school community.5

“2013–14 Texas Academic Performance Report,” Texas Education Agency, http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/tapr/2014/srch.html?srch=C “News and Announcements,” David Crockett High School, http://www.crocketths.org/index.jsp; additional recent data provided by school official in personal interview.
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Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers

Public Charter School—Boston, Massachusetts

EMK at a glance

1286
composite SAT score (2014)

Class of 2013, 12 months post high school

EMK and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

At Edward M. Kennedy Academy, talk of college starts early. From the day they start school, students at Kennedy Academy are surrounded by teachers and administrators who push students to see a future that includes college. Teachers get students started thinking about the importance of having a good GPA and a transcript that reflects rigorous academic coursework in the ninth grade. “We encourage them to think beyond high school, into a college future,” says Diane Bassett, the Coordinator of Planning.

At 78 percent, EMK boasts a relatively high proportion of students from low-income families. The charter school’s students come from a variety of backgrounds, with both cultural and academic differences. Ninth graders here, as in many places, find themselves starting high school at varying levels of preparedness. Nevertheless, the school works to provide the most rigorous academic program that it can. All students at EMK have 4 years each of lab science, English, history, and math. It operates under a simple philosophy. If exposed to a rigorous curriculum, every child can achieve, maybe not at the same high levels, but higher than if they had not been exposed to such a rigorous curriculum at all.

It’s not just about high expectations set through a college-focused curriculum. Students at EMK enjoy a very real feeling of community at EMK. Although the school is beginning to grow, Ms. Bassett notes that its small, intimate nature has been instrumental in teachers’ ability to pay extra attention to those students who need it the most. “Our students are well known by all of the adults here, and it makes a huge difference in a high school.” The small community has encouraged relationship building among students and adults, which has helped to yield the amazing results EMK has seen.

EMK’s strategies seem to be paying off. The school’s most recent composite SAT score is a 1286.6 Students outperformed the state on English assessments in 2013 and 2014, and on math assessments in 2013. The graduation rate at EMK was 100 percent for the class of 2013, and the college matriculation rate for the class of 2012 was 93 percent.6

“2013–14 SAT Performance Report,” Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/sat/sat_perf_dist.aspx?orgcode=04520000&orgtypecode=5&TYPE=DISTRICT&fycode=2014 “2014 Report Card,” Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/reportcard/rc.aspx?linkid=37&orgcode=04520000&fycode=2014&orgtypecode=12&; see also, “2014 Massachusetts District Report Card Overview,” Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (Horace Mann Charter) (District), http://www.kennedyacademy.org/ourpages/auto/2010/4/15/49793972/EMK%202014%20Report%20Card%20Overview.pdf
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Global Learning

Public Charter School—New Bedford, Massachusetts

GLCPS at a glance

1366
composite SAT score (2014)

GLPCS and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

It all boils down to a seemingly simple idea—Global Learning Charter Public School’s mission is to stay closely connected to the needs of all its students . At GLCPS, student support is seemingly unending. Once the school finds out what a student needs, it’s relentless in providing it. “We think that the true success begins with identifying the students’ needs, and then working with them in all our various programs,” says Dr. Stephen Furtado, executive director of the school.

In truth, GLCPS might not be able to do what it does so well without the autonomy it has as a charter school. According to Dr. Furtado, it’s an autonomy that has been invaluable. He points to benefits such as setting their own policies, holding all employees from the principal to the custodian to a one-year contract, and maintaining full control of their budget, among other plusses. Still, Dr. Furtado says, the school isn’t free from accountability—GLCPS is visited by the state department of education and must have results to show for the freedom they have been given.

A school of nearly 500 students, GLCPS hosts a diversity of students, 70 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Students have very different needs from one another.14 But at GLCPS, targeted support starts on day one. “Once students are accepted,” says Dr. Furtado, “they are given full testing over the summer. We find out their academic ability, their ELL (English language learner) ability, and reading scores.” The school gets a real-time picture of its students’ needs and academic performance. With that precious knowledge teachers are able to monitor and adjust for individual students.

Staff members at the school have also focused on ensuring teaching strategies are uniform across a student’s academic level course material. As a public charter school, GLCPS has the flexibility to think creatively around curriculum. Classes and assignments at GLCPS are project-based. Each unit is centered on a particular theme, and students must build theme-centered projects. As students create their projects, teachers and staff make sure that all students are achieving at their maximum potential. Teachers remediate lessons on a regular basis. Students who are struggling to grasp a concept are identified early on and targeted for extra assistance. A strong after school program and a student tutoring program offer even more support to students who need it.

That support, and the autonomy Dr. Furtado has in designing a school that evaluates and meets students’ unique needs, is leading the school’s students to advanced outcomes, such as a composite score of 1366 in the most recent year for SAT scores.15

“Enrollment Data,” Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=04960305&orgtypecode=6 “2013–14 SAT Performance Report,” Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/sat/sat_perf_dist.aspx?orgcode=04960000&orgtypecode=5&TYPE=DISTRICT&fycode=2014

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MATCH

Public Charter School—Boston, Massachusetts

MATCH at a glance

1549
composite SAT score (2015)

“AP Results,” MATCH Charter Public School, http://www.matchschool.org/about/ap-results/

MATCH and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

Students at MATCH Charter Public School in Boston know that they don’t have any time to slack when they get to school. With more instructional time than the average student, students have to meet the demands of a rigorous, thorough academic program. MATCH averages a 185 to 190 day school year, longer than most school districts, and an 8 to 9 hour school day. The model focuses on truly nurturing student potential to prepare them for success in college and beyond. MATCH has relentlessly high expectations for its students, whom it expects not only to matriculate to college, but also to finish.

It’s not just more time in school. Tobey Jackson, the chief academic officer at the school, explains that MATCH has a long-term commitment to high-dosage tutoring for any student that needs the service. “The school design is such that every student has access to a tutor, primarily in ELA and math,” says Jackson. Students can meet with tutors for up to two hours per day. Targeted remediation is available, and encouraged, for all students who are not up to grade level in a given subject. MATCH’s high expectations and student-specific support doesn’t end when the school bell rings. MATCH employs hardworking recent college graduates full-time as tutors who work closely not just with the students, but also with their families to ensure that learning continues at home.

In the classroom, students benefit from the school’s deep commitment to data-driven instruction. At MATCH, all teachers use their students’ performance on assessments to evaluate what and how well their students are learning. After a careful review of the data, teachers are able to target their instruction strategically in selecting how and which material is needed to recover for remediation. For MATCH staff, data use goes beyond remediation and reteaching tough concepts. “As a commonwealth charter, we are essentially our own district, and have the autonomy to align our resources with what the data says we need,” says Mr. Jackson. MATCH has seen great success using its student data to take their learning to the next level.

It’s working—the vast majority of MATCH’s graduates matriculate to a four-year college (about 85 percent of students), and of those, about 54 percent of alumni have received a college degree. That’s 18 percentage points more than the national average, and 42 percentage points more than the average for students in similar socioeconomic conditions.9 MATCH’s recent SAT scores have shown a remarkable improvement over just the past couple of years. The class of 2013’s average composite score was an impressive 1300. In the two years following, scores have risen an average of 124 points per year, to an astounding average composite of 1549 for the class of 2015. Students at MATCH are beating the national average by more than 50 points.10

“College Completion,” MATCH Charter Public School, http://www.matchschool.org/about/college-completion/ “SAT Results,” MATCH Charter Public School, http://www.matchschool.org/about/sat-results/
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Mater Academy Lakes High School

Public Charter School—Hialeah, Florida

Mater at a glance

13460 “School Profile,” Mater Lakes Academy, http://materlakes.org/about/profile.jsp
composite SAT score (2014)

" “Florida School Grades,” Florida Department of Education, http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/" Class of 2013, 12 months post high school

Mater and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

Mater Academy Lakes High School has been seeing the kind of success schools dream about. A key factor in their success: Mater focuses on employing the best teachers around. As head of a charter school, Principal Rene Rovirosa has a fair amount of flexibility in designing the program at Mater. His key practice? Ensuring Mater has the best people on its staff. Teachers are employed by the school, and are not subject to the rules set forth by the teacher contract in Dade County. They sign a one-year contract in which their future employment is contingent on their performance at the end of that year. “We are continuously observing and trying to help teachers become even better,” says Principal Rovirosa.

It’s not just staff. Mater’s autonomy brings other benefits as well, including flexibility in following the district’s calendar, and choosing which textbooks to use, among other things. Principal Rovirosa says student success also comes from fostering a mindset in his students. He believes students deserve to be held to high standards, and should expect predictable rewards and consequences for their behavior. “There is going to be some discipline inside and outside of the classroom, and students need to know that,” he says, explaining that when students know to expect repercussions for their actions, they are less likely to act in defiant, unproductive ways.

It’s working. At Mater, 94 percent of the Class of 2014 matriculated to post-secondary institutions, split between two-year and four-year colleges. Of students who took AP exams, 57 percent received a passing score of 3 or higher.13 Some of the school’s students graduated high school with an Associate’s degree, while others were already dual-enrolled at one of the area’s post-secondary institutions. Despite its high proportion of students from low-income backgrounds, the school continues to shatter expectations and lead its students to amazing results.

“School Profile,” Mater Lakes Academy, http://materlakes.org/about/profile.jsp
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Thurgood Marshall Academy

Public Charter School—Washington, D.C.

Thurgood Marshall at a glance:

1312
composite SAT score (2015)

Thurgood Marshall and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

At Thurgood Marshall, expectations are high. Students and teachers alike know they can expect to leave their excuses at the door. “We have a strong culture of high expectations for all students,” Executive Director Alexandra Pardo says, adding, “what that means to me is that although we acknowledge that many of our students may come in with deficiencies, we do not let the students use those deficiencies as excuses.” She insists that high expectations are the number one factor in helping her students show continual growth over the last several years.

Thurgood Marshall’s teachers and faculty hold fast to a dear mission. They want to prepare students to succeed in college, and instill an understanding of democracy and advocacy in students. Ms. Pardo believes this to be one of the top factors in the success of their school. “All of our faculty and staff believe in our school’s mission, and all of our work is guided by the mission. The work that we give students is all college prep work, and that guides all of our decisions.”

That’s because the staff at Thurgood Marshall realizes that the stakes are high for their children. The school sits in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C.’s 8th Ward, where 75 percent of its students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Like many other students across the country, students entering 9th grade at the school are several grade levels behind in math and ELA, among other subjects. To overcome these challenges, Thurgood Marshall has implemented programs to intensify learning for its students in both math and ELA. Students attend double math and double ELA blocks at the school. They are given twice as much English and math instruction as their peers in other D.C. schools, amounting to a total of 90 minutes per subject. That rigorous program has led to tremendous student gains—the highest academic gains in reading and math in the entire city. In recent years, Thurgood Marshall’s SAT scores, AP scores, and standardized test scores have all outpaced the majority of schools in D.C.

The focus on college preparation has led to 100 percent of their graduates being accepted to college, 90 percent of those graduates matriculating to college within the first year after graduation, and 94 percent of the matriculants persisting through to their second year of college. SAT scores over the past few years provide a great example: the class of 2013’s averaged composite was a 1229; in 2014, it went up to 1240; and the class of 2015 raised the bar even higher to an average composite of 1312.

At Thurgood Marshall, members of the community really have left their excuses behind.11

“About Thurgood Marshall Academy,” Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School, http://thurgoodmarshallacademy.org/about/; additional recent data provided by school official in personal interview.
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Uplift Peak Preparatory High School

Public Charter School—Dallas, Texas

Peak Prep at a glance

1365
composite SAT score (2013)

Peak and Baltimore’s top scoring schools
(mean composite SAT scores)

At Uplift Peak Preparatory High School in Dallas, high school director Remy Washington understands that the key to success for her students starts with great teaching. “In our opinion, teachers have the most impact on student outcomes,” she says. It’s the model for success around which she’s built the school. By ensuring teachers are able to engage in frequent team collaboration and accountability practices, the school aims to target students where they need the most support. Uplift Peak has instituted school wide practices to get them there; notably, teachers work in well established learning communities that span both horizontal and vertical partnerships with grade level and subject level counterparts. In these learning community structures, teaching teams develop curricular materials to address the particular needs of each of their students.

“Teachers have the most impact on student outcomes.”

Peak also puts a lot of stock into the direct development of its teachers. The school’s deans engage in coaching relationships with the teachers for their independent professional development. Support staff is in teachers’ classrooms to monitor student and teacher progress biweekly or even more frequently. Using these observations, feedback and teacher development programming are aligned with real-time knowledge of what’s happening in classrooms. Recently, the school has been focusing on improved questioning. “With this focus, we’ve been able to use observation feedback sessions to give teachers specific notes on how they can improve their classroom questioning.”

The school makes sure its teachers are empowered to improve their practice through assessment and analysis of student learning and teachers’ individual practices. The school pushes its teachers to constantly adapt their practice to the unique strengths and weaknesses of their students. Teachers use of weekly and biweekly assessments to determine where students are struggling, targeted intervention time during the day, and a tight RTI (response to intervention) system all provide efficient feedback to help inform teacher practice. Every student at the school is encouraged to take both the ACT and the SAT once they reach their junior year of high school, and students begin practicing for the tests as early as their freshman year. The school administers the ACT’s EPAS assessment in each grade, and monitors students’ progress with the test’s requisite skills yearly and work to address progress levels as the test grows nearer. “We want the students to get started early so that we have enough time to properly develop their skills in line with the ACT,” says Ms. Washington.

At Uplift Peak Prep, the staff is taking efforts to make their teachers feel supported and to help them improve in their practice. As Ms. Washington explains, it helps that the school has a strong vision of where they want to see their students and staff. And it is dedicated to making that vision a reality. Ms. Washington notes that practices have made measurable impacts on their students’ learning and growth. Some highlights of the program at Peak Prep include 100 percent of graduates in the class of 2013 being accepted to college,16 and a 2013 SAT composite score of 1365.17

“Achievements,” Uplift Education, http://www.uplifteducation.org/domain/426 “2013–14 Texas Academic Performance Report,” http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/tapr/2014/srch.html?srch=C
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