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Peabody Schools Maintain 'Low Performing' Level 3 Rating By State

Peabody High may be among the top performing high schools in the Bay State, but one West Peabody elementary school trails behind the rest.

West Memorial Elementary School. Credit: File photo
West Memorial Elementary School. Credit: File photo
Based on this year's MCAS scores (along with some other factors), the Peabody Public Schools haven't shed their Level 3 designation and remain in the lowest performing 20 percent of districts in Massachusetts...but that's only because of one elementary school.

Peabody Veterans Memorial High School actually has Level 1 status, which places it among the highest performing high schools, and all other city schools are at Level 2, except for West Memorial Elementary School. The West is at Level 3.

Here's how the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education explains the different designations (there are five):

"Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, accountability reports changed significantly as a result of Massachusetts’ waiver of certain No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements: the NCLB goal of 100 percent proficiency was replaced with a new goal of reducing proficiency gaps by half by 2017; the NCLB accountability status labels of improvement, corrective action, and restructuring were eliminated; only state accountability and assistance levels are used for districts and schools, including charter schools; Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) has been replaced with a new performance measure (the Progress and Performance Index, or PPI) that incorporates student growth and other indicators, including science and dropout rates; and reports show a new 'high needs' subgroup, an unduplicated count of all students in a school or district belonging to at least one of the following individual subgroups: students with disabilities, English language learners (ELL) and former ELL students, or low income students."

At the West School, the state reports that students with disabilities met their progress target for 2013, but general education students did not; however, students did show significant year-to-year improvement. The school was classified Level 3 for 2012 as well.

For example, all students need to collectively achieve a 75 on the Cumulative Progress and Performance Index in order to meet the target goal for the year -- the West was at 71 for 2013, but students were collectively at 45 for 2012.

According to state data, general education students showed declines in English Language Arts and math in 2012 and were above target in science, and then significantly improved in both ELA and math for 2013, but still not enough to meet the progress goal.

During a review of MCAS data last fall, school administrators were frank about the challenges for the district and at the West School, in particular, and laid out a plan of attack for the year to come.

The state says schools or districts may be classified at Level 3 for several reasons. Here's the explanation:

"Schools are classified into Level 3 if they are among the lowest 20 percent relative to other schools in the same school type category statewide, if one or more subgroups in the school are among the lowest performing 20 percent of subgroups relative to all subgroups statewide, if they have persistently low graduation rates (less than 60 percent for any subgroup over a four-year period), or if they have very low MCAS participation rates for any group (less than 90 percent). The lowest achieving, least improving Level 3 schools are candidates for classification into Levels 4 and 5, the most serious designations in Massachusetts' accountability system."

You can find more details on Peabody's 2013 Accountability Data online here.

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