Click here to report offensive or inappropriate posts.
With all the discussion about the Mystic Valley I figured I would post the same comparison that I have posted that last few years. All of this data is directly from the MA DOE website at http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/
As I posted last year; there are 20 different categories where the DOE ranks students as Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement or Warning/Failing from grades 3 through 10. As part of their scoring the state adds a category of “Proficient or Higher” (adding the percentage of students in Proficient and Advanced).
Using the “Proficient or Higher” category and looking at the Melrose District versus the MV School you will see that Melrose had a higher percentage of Students in 10 of these Categories; MV was higher in 8 and they were tied in 2. If you choose to look only at the students that are “Advanced” you will see that Melrose had a higher percentage of students in 14 categories and MV was higher in only 6.
Where the MV does do well is in keeping students out of the “Warning/Failing” status where the MV is only higher in 3 categories versus Melrose being higher in 13 and tied in 4. Note, among the 20 different categories reference above, the DOE also does and “All grades” comparison for Language Arts, Math and Science. In those 3 categories Melrose has a higher percentage of students in the Language Arts (79% to 75); and Science (58% to 48%) and MV is higher in Math (73% to 69%).
The preceding information is all factual and really cannot be debated. However, in terms of opinion, this data tells me that if you have a student that you consider to be a high performer and want to select one of the 2 public school options available to Melrose students; the traditional district schools would be the right choice. If your student struggles and you think may be at risk of failing, the MV may be the right choice.
There can be all types of spin but the data is the data. Someone suggested last year that a better comparison is to compare the district to itself year to year. If you do that for Melrose, you will see that Melrose went up in 9 categories; down in 9 categories and tied in 2. The MV went up in only 8 categories, down in 9 categories and tied itself in 3.
A better analysis, as Gerry Mroz has suggested would be to compare each testing grade against itself over time to see how that class has changed over time. That would take some work but just looking at this data I think some clear conclusions can be drawn from the data and they may not be entirely consistent with what is read in the media and on this board. Much of that may be due to the fact that one of the schools being compared above has a full time media spokesperson (paid for with tax dollars) and the other does not.
There is now a vicious cycle in Melrose that will take a culture shift before things improve.
First, parents and community members have to stop blaming teachers for the many kinds of failures in the schools while simultaneously learning to take responsibility for what should always have been within their role. Parents cannot continue to abdicate their responsibilities as parents and expect teachers to teach children a moral compass, work ethic, decent study habits.
Community members have to start showing up when it counts, not just at the polls, but certainly that's one place to start.
Vilifying the unions is wrong. Dial back the calendar to a time without unions or to places where they aren't allowed and you won't see better teaching but instead the totalitarian regimes that America is headed for with its "Corporations are People" mentality. There were labor unions in the 60s and 70s, too, and there was some pretty amazing work being done in the classrooms, from which many of those yammering against the unions now were able to benefit and succeed. Certainly the management of today's unions need a large wake-up call in many areas, and Melrose is no exception. With a teacher's union that called Ted Mateus its president for many years, and one that now is entirely too close to administration, there are many reasons for concern locally. Teachers are not held accountable here when they should be while at the same time there are unfairly targeted and not supported well by a weak union, one that in some ways may as well not exist for the poor job it does advocating for the actual reasons it should. It's beyond ridiculous that two minutes or so are added to the end of the school day in order to accommodate the "time in learning" mandate, while at the same time the administration strips away the morning recess of 5-year-olds, referencing the union regulations.
It's all just crazy and out of balance here, and it should be no mystery that student achievement reflects this. Too many teachers arrive at the last possible minute they can get away with and are out the door as fast as they are able at the end of the day, student needs be dammed. Meanwhile the dedicated ones who are always around/available (including when they leave the premises) for students and parents are scorned by less dedicated colleagues and under-appreciated by all. Administration just keeps piling on the nonsense instead of backing the teachers and helping to educate a truly dumb population here about what is involved in the teaching profession.
The school committee just keeps officiously patting itself on the back with each new regime of inexperienced, under-qualified new administrators that continuously turn over in Melrose's revolving door. It keeps forming new search committees, each with new even more ridiculous parameters. When all is said and every administrator except for 2 leave in a mass exodus, this committee gives itself stellar ratings in its annual exercise of self-blessing--its "self evaluation" cycle, taking not one shred of responsibility for its outrageously poor conduct and obvious results. It knows it can do this because the parents who play up to them in every social circle that they think matters will just keep doing that. And so the cycle continues, with each new symptom of trouble getting buried a little deeper in the folds of more restrictive and regressive policies helped by a public that is more asleep at the wheel with every new revelation of danger or failure.
Anyone who rocks that boat is sure to be targeted as a "hater" or as someone who "doesn't go about things the right way" or any number of other boring and nasty songs that accompany this vicious cycle in Melrose now. Right along with that are banners and many hallelujah choirs about the tremendous amount of stuff that has been purchased or the safe strands of "news" that the mayor's office puts out for the sanitized news stories that the community can't seem to get enough of. Right now it will be about the "historic" and "extraordinary" teacher's contract, and how it demonstrates Melrose's commitment to education.... You know the song. Wait another 1.5 years until this batch of administrators has bailed after getting the district to pay for the flimsy master's degree or Nova Southeastern "doctorate." Meanwhile the ever-increasing fresh new batch of C- Fitchburg State teachers are populating the district. But that's okay. By the time too many of the best students have left for other high schools, the remaining parents have stopped being involved with anything beyond pasta parties, so they won't notice until it's too late in their kid's junior or senior year that probably there won't be any scholarships, athletic or otherwise. Suddenly these once-vocal elementary parents are mum, especially when their kid has to leave college after a month or a semester because of that little series of "incidents" and failing grades in the basic courses. Those that are succeeding in spite of needing remedial training in basic writing or math (won't even talk about science) are hailed as the great examples of the district's winning ways. And then it all begins again and stays the course, "historic" agreements or not.
Mystic Valley obviously does some things extremely well, and the results prove this. It does other things less well or is just average. It knows how to promote itself to the agencies dishing out splashy (and fairly meaningless) "awards," just like our own administration is cottoning onto ("Best High Schools" stupidities being posted on our own district website the last couple of years). Our district could be learning from what Mystic Valley does very well, as the system is designed, but instead just vilifies the school for its funding formula and for the fact that some of our better students have left in order to enroll at this charter school (while the district makes a conscious decision to ignore the reasons). It's wrong that taxpayers are paying Mystic Valley for its 6-figure PR man (disbarred and disgraced former attorney Marty Gately). Mystic Valley also has a corrupt administration, and the state is tightening the screws finally (as it should have done many years ago). Taxpayers shouldn't be paying for all of this school's many real estate purchases, at least in the absence of full scrutiny and public disclosure of the finances. It has to be kept in mind that the school didn't have its own publicly funded facility, but now that they have several, they have no excuses for the lack of full financial and real estate disclosure. If local taxpayers are expected to pay for Mystic Valley, they should have some say in how it is managed, with public votes for the board of directors, just as it has over its school committee, such as it is. There should also be full disclosure about the student selection process and how SPED students are educated and/or returned to the sending district. Beyond all that, taxpayers should be asking Representative Brodeur and Senator Clark why more hasn't been done to correct a highly flawed funding formula that punishes districts like Melrose with extreme reimbursement schemes, not only for the charter school(s) but for the vocational/tech schools as well.
It's not a simple problem that would be solved by getting rid of the teacher's union.
To Parent: In your post you said that the "Mystic Valley obviously does some things extremely well, and the results prove this." Could you please specify what results you are talking about? Are you talking about the MCAS results or newspaper articles or rating agency rankings that rely on some sort of ranking algorithm to come up with their rankings?
As sure as the crocus mark the sign of spring, so does the slamming of the Melrose school district by private school parents and the never-ending hype coming out of the MV Charter school with their taxpayer-funded media relations coordinator. With 2 public school options available to parents in Melrose, I tend not to put too much credibility into mythical rankings by the US News and World Misreport. In my eyes, a ranking that has MVCS ahead of schools like Lexington and Winchester and ranks a school like Lincoln-Sudbury 45th in the state is sort of a joke. Instead the head to head MCAS data for the 2 schools is readily available for all parents and has been since last fall when I posted the information below. The data is still relevant.
However, one thing taxpayers should be concerned in the US News and World & Misreport’s study is that it is heavily weighted towards how schools serve minority students. Using their own information, the US News & World Misreport indicates that the MVCS has a minority population of only 39% whereas the high school in the same city as this publicly funded charter school (Malden High) has a minority population of 70%. Is that what Charter reform is all about? Tax dollars from Melrose residents are being used to set up a predominantly white high school in a predominantly minority community. I wonder why the US News & World Misreport won’t cover this issue. We all want to jump up and down over every decision the Melrose SC makes yet we turn a blind eye to our tax dollars being abused in this fashion. Beyond that, every hire in the Melrose district gets endless scrutiny out here yet there are multiple relatives of the MVCS chairman that work in the administration for the MVCS. How would we all feel if Cindy Taymore hired her own sister as the SPED director for Melrose, or hired another relative as facility director? I’m sure MFD and the like would be up in arms yet this is exactly what is going on at the MVCS.
Is this a good use of our tax dollars? Rampant nepotism and underserving minorities in their home district? I think not, but I’m sure this will get little attention out here.
Hey Statman (or woman whomever you are):
As an MHS parent, NOT a Mystic Valley or private/parochial parent, I agree with the criticisms about MHS, AND because I have a brain, I agree that the Mystic Valley nepotism, charter school funding formula and any number of other issues around charter schools are big problems that need to be addressed. You, like so many other district apologists, seem to think (or at least need to portray) that anyone who criticizes the district administration is unable to think independently, that everything is equivocal, and either/or situation, that we surely must be charter school supporters if we are angry about the chaos in our own school system, that our concern and anger cannot be justified in its own right. If you are truly that unidimensional yourself, that's unfortunate because there are many aspects of most situations that can occur in parallel fashion. Perhaps it never occurred to you that a public school parent of moderate intelligence and no pretenses requiring Ivy-League affiliation for validation can simultaneously be critical of the Dolan/Taymore school district and also be critical of Mystic Valley, while choosing actively to put one's children in the public schools and still be respectful of those who make alternate choices for their families. As one who puts little stock in a cheesy list like US News, I have objected for years to Dolan's kneejerk bragging about every fake "honor" by this same publication; that MHS didn't even rate enough to be listed by this low-quality ranking is remarkable mostly because this is the same rag that this administration has made hay with in previous years and no doubt will again when or if (!) the tide turns and things start to trend upwards for MHS.
So Statperson, react if you must to the negative remarks, but don't expect to be viewed as a mature and reasoned voice until or if you learn to demonstrate some fairness and nuanced logic in your statements.
So you have a brain and can simultaneously criticize both Melrose and Mystic Valley yet you choose to only criticize Melrose. Another melrosemessages fraud.
The "Warning" score on the MCAS often goes to severely disabled students. I would suggest that these students often stay in MPS, where the services are better than at a low population charter school. In every instance of warning I've ever seen (I live in Melrose, but work in another public school system), the staff knew who was getting a warning before the year began. I have never seen a student slip into warning out of nowhere. I would guess that in the MPS, they could name who the warning student was/will be every year as well. Warning scores are students who need a lot of individualized support.
Excellent, Parent! You are correct, these specious remarks lumping all of us "haters" as somehow anti-Melrose, pro-charter/parochial/private-school parents are just the red herrings to deflect away from valid concerns. They are the refuge of small and nasty minds, much the way the McCarthyites labeled anyone not in their camp as Commies.
Most of us couldn't really care less about what happens at Mystic Valley, except for the funding formula which hurts every Melrose taxpayer and should be a legitimate concern. (And so far our crack legislative teams of Clark, Brodeur, Lewis et al. have done nothing to correct it since that would involve a bit of heavier lifting than any of them are willing to or capable of doing.)
You lemmings have your knickers all in a bunch again about this non-story with the US News and World Misreport. There is nothing new here. This is the same mythical ranking that came out in April. If you really think that Lincoln-Sudbury is the 45th best high school in the state and the MVCRS is #6, please stop reading now, you can’t be helped.
Everything in my post above on April 24 is as true today as it was three months ago. If you want to compare school districts; go to the MCAS site. There the only conclusion that you can reach when comparing the Melrose district to the MVRCS is that if your child struggles, you should send them to the MVRCS. They do a very good job of keeping their kids out of the Failing and Needs Improvement Categories (at least those that aren’t special needs, those students tend to leave). If your child excels, send them to Melrose. Year in and year out the Melrose district puts a higher percentage of students in Advanced and Proficient categories than the MVRCS. This information is readily available on the MA Dept. of Education website. These are facts…something you won’t find in the US News and World Misreport.
Why in the world would you post this three months after the last prior post? What's your agenda?
Whoops! I just read all your prior posts in this string. Now I know what your agenda is.