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Peabody High Maintains Top Status By Meeting Target Goals

So what does that Level 1 rating mean compared to other high schools?

Tenth-graders at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School again scored well enough on the MCAS this past spring to contribute to the school's Level 1 status by the state.

The designation places PVMHS among the highest performing high schools in Massachusetts, which essentially means students are meeting their progress goals. There are additional factors to the school's annual Cumulative Progress and Performance Index assessment now, but MCAS results are a significant piece of that.

According to state data released earlier this month, 92 percent of PVMHS students scored proficient or higher on the English Language Arts exam. The state average was 91 percent.

On math and science/technology and engineering, however, students slightly trailed the state average. Peabody students scored 79 percent proficient or higher on math -- the state average was 80 percent -- while they scored 69 percent on science versus an average of 71 percent.

In the category of Needs Improvement, Peabody students were 1 point higher than the state average of 13 percent on math and 4 points higher than the average of 24 percent. Math scores broke even with the average of 7 percent in the Warning/Failing category.

This year's scores do represent an improvement over 2012 results: tenth-graders scored 87 percent proficient or higher on ELA (the state average was 88 percent), 76 percent on math (state average was 78 percent) and 66 percent on science (state average was 69 percent).

PVMHS was likewise rated a Level 1 school in 2012. During a review of MCAS data last fall, retired Principal Ed Sapienza chalked up the top rating in part due to the success of the partnership with the Mass. Math and Science Initiative on Advanced Placement courses. He said that has buoyed the entire academic culture at the school.

To further put the data into perspective, take a look at how PVMHS and some neighboring public high schools fared in comparison on the 2013 MCAS and how they are rated.

Peabody Veterans Memorial High School (Level 1)
  • ELA: 92, Math: 79, Science: 69
Danvers High School (Level 2)
  • ELA: 91, Math: 86, Science: 81
Salem High School (Level 3)
  • ELA: 84, Math: 64, Science: 64
Beverly High School (Level 2)
  • ELA: 91, Math: 81, Science: 76
Masconomet Regional High School (Level 1)
  • ELA: 98, Math: 97, Science: 95
Johnny D September 30, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Congratulations PVMHS students, faculty and parents! Way to show those naysayers and haters that make up stories about how awful your school is (Saber). What, no one else has any comments about how impressed they are with this progress??? Just last week a negative article about this very school system drew out many of complaining comments...anyone care to offer their praise? I won't hold my breath.
Greg September 30, 2013 at 07:46 PM
How do Danvers and Beverly both have higher Math and Science %'s yet are listed as Level 2 schools?
John Castelluccio (Editor) September 30, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Essentially what the results show is that the status levels now used by the DESE are based on whether a particular school is meeting its target goals. Those goals are not the same for each school, it's based on progressively narrowing achievement gaps. In this case, Danvers High has higher goals, which it hasn't met, although the related scores are generally higher than Peabody on the MCAS. Make sense?
John Castelluccio (Editor) September 30, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Another thing you see from the results historically is that Peabody High scores are often right around the state averages and tend to increase as the averages do from year-to-year.
Greg September 30, 2013 at 09:42 PM
So Peabody set the bar low, met those lower goals, and now Johnny D is asking where the congratulations are. Nice
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Kathleen October 04, 2013 at 01:59 PM
I commend Peabody High for the progress it has made. However, if it is now considered a Level One school, then shouldn't you compare the scores to those of other Level One schools? (Comparing apples to apples instead of apples to oranges...) That being said, look at the difference in the scores between Peabody High and MASCO. MASCO students are scoring 8 points higher than Peabody in both ELA & Math and 26 points higher in Science & Technology. That is a fact. What are they doing right that we are obviously doing wrong? Also, Peabody's scores still put them in the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the state rankings. Let's stop being content with scoring on the lower end of the scale! There are many other school districts out there of similar size, with similar demographics who are doing much better. Also, with the results we are seeing in the elementary and middle schools, how will Peabody High maintain this new Level One status? If the kids that will be coming up to the high school from Higgins and the other elementary schools aren't performing at a high level than obviously they aren't getting the groundwork needed for high school. How can we sustain this progress?
Johnny D October 04, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Talk about manipulating the data Kathleen. Comparing Masco to Peabody is like comparing apples to ceiling fans. How does he median household in Peabody compare to the median household income in the tri-city area??? In that sense, Peabody is more comparable to Salem and Lynn...which we do MUCH better than. How much does Masco pay their teachers compared to Peabody? And don't say that isn't a factor,because we all know it is. Between the pay difference and HUGE facilities differences it is like asking if you would rather play for the Yankees or the Brewers. Where do you think the more qualified educators are going? We have a diverse city, and we need to cater to ALL Peabody families...this diversity makes us wonderful and unique...but it is also a challenge that Masco does not have to compensate for. Sorry, but you made an absolutely ABSURD comparison here.
Kathleen October 04, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Johnny D, whose manipulating anything here? The scores are the scores whether you like it or not. If you don't want to compare Peabody to Masco, then take a look at Woburn, Billerica, Medford, Chelmsford, Burlington, Attleboro & North Attleboro, all cities and towns similar to Peabody in size, population, and demographics, many of which are as diverse as Peabody, they are all doing much better on MCAS. Half the problem is wanting to compare Peabody to Salem & Lynn in the first place. Who wants to be in that company when it comes to school systems? And if you check the average teacher salaries on the DOE website, you will be surprised to find out that the average teacher salary in Peabody for 2011 was $73,091 which is definitely in the ballpark of what Masco teachers earn. As far as facilities go, Peabody had the chance to build a new, state of the art, first class facility for itself about 10 years ago, but chose not to in lieu of keeping taxes low. It lost out on getting a much higher reimbursement rate from the state than it would now. It's all about putting a value on education and personally I don't think Peabody has done that over the last 10 or 15 years. Maybe our new Mayor will truly be the education mayor he is claiming to be and will help to catapult our school system into the first class system it should be. We have plenty of industry here in Peabody to support it and our residential taxes have been too low now for years. When I moved to Peabody over 20 years ago, we weren't being classified as a Gateway City. I for one don't see that as a compliment. You get what you pay for. Education is an investment in our children's future. We shouldn't skimp on it.
Johnny D October 04, 2013 at 09:25 PM
You conveniently "forgot" to mention the average salary for teachers in the Masco District was $79,292 (2011). That is almost an 8% difference compared to Peabody teachers. That sounds like a pretty significant difference to me. Ask yourself: if you got your bachelor's degree, passed the teacher test, student taught and got your master's degree...where would you be looking for a job? A district with prisons for schools, or one with beautifully updated facilities that pays 8% more to it's teachers? Apples and ceiling fans.
Kathleen October 16, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Johnny D, you seem to contradict yourself. You defend the Peabody schools when it comes to MCAS results but yet you refer to the district as 'a district with prisons for schools'...As I've said in my prior posts, Peabody had the chance to build a new middle school and high school ten years ago but chose not to. Now we are going to be paying through the nose for it. Many of the other towns and cities that I mentioned (Woburn & Medford for instance) have brand new schools or ones that have been recently renovated. Colleges invest millions of dollars each year in infrastructure in order to attract quality teachers and students. We should have done the same thing years ago and maybe we would be seeing different results.
Johnny D October 16, 2013 at 03:47 PM
No contradiction here...the point I am trying to make is that we are making great strides in the Peabody school system DESPITE the lack of funding for adequate facilities. Imagine how wonderful our school system could be if we had state of the art facilities that attracted quality teachers to our great city...one can only dream. Unfortunately, the short sighted residents of Peabody only care about low taxes (this may be a result of our elderly population as well). Invest in education, get a better school system, properties go up and we all win...unless of course you don't have children in the school system or don't own property (looking at you Brooksby Village).

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