Staff Lunch Snapshot

1. Cinco De Mayo empanadas. For all. Vege clearly marked from chicken. All baked by math teacher with helpers. Then birthday cake for bio teacher. Double helixes and green frosting monocytes on top.

2. History teacher talking to a colleague about breakfast. As in: serving a special one to kids. AP test soon. This guy is not easily discouraged. Trying to get the kids who arrive bottom 25th percentile in English as 9th graders to handle AP history as 11th graders. Test smacked our kids upside collective head last 2 years. He could coast and say “they’ve been exposed to rich curriculum.” Not his style. He’s tried a different, essay-heavy approach this year. Which has meant tons of extra grading for him. Will it work?Check back in July.    

3. Extra staff downstairs, covering for the principal. No grumbling. A mix of school leaders and teachers are on the road, Boston to NYC. Hungry for improvement. First visit yesterday was KIPP Infinity. To help organize a union drive. Just kidding! Infinity’s a literacy standout among No Excuses schools. Rockin’ blog here.  

Then off to North Star High. Schools like that have tons of visitors. From USA. From the world. Anyone from nearest low-performing school?  Almost never, they say.  

4. Random note and Dan Willingham’s nightmare: “While checking over Jarsha’s active reading notes in English tutorial, I noticed that she had only made a single mark on the entire page. She circled the word ‘bacon’ in the article and wrote ‘I <3 U’ beside it.”

—Guestblogger Mike Goldstein

7 Replies to “Staff Lunch Snapshot”

  1. Hey Mike, I’m curious: what’s the legit grad rate at North Star High? The numbers I’ve seen make it appear that attrition is rough there. Hard to tell from their website, because they claim 100% go to college, but to your point, is that 100% of the 50% who made it?

  2. Hi Anon, I’m not sure what their numbers are. But what you describe are roughly the numbers at our school, MATCH, in Boston.

    One issue that many charters face is, from the kids’ perspective, they’re offered automatic promotion if they transfer back to district schools.

    Ie, Consider a kid in our school who makes big strides over baseline, but is not promoted from, say, Grade 10 to 11 in our school. If he chooses to transfer to the nearby traditional school, he is automatically moved up to the next grade.

    Currently, our choice is to either to overrule teachers and promote students, or hold them back but to know that they will be offered social promotion elsewhere, and often will choose that.

    It’s not a great choice. We are trying to work with the district so they apply the same standards to our schools as they do to their own: if a kid is held back in School A, then School B should not offer him automatic promotion.

    But that’s our point of view. My buddy who runs a traditional school nearby has another. He says: “Let’s say one of your kids is held back, but has now reached a level where he’s ahead of our average students academically. He can do really well in Grade 11 with us. Why should I keep him back in 10?”

  3. And here’s another point of view still: What an easy way for the “miracle” charter schools to dump low-performing or otherwise troublesome kids.

  4. Aren’t there some good high school charters out there that don’t lose, dump, or misplace their students? What’s attrition like at YES and at Noble Street, for instance? How about the KIPP high schools? Same deal?

  5. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your generous thoughts about our literacy program 🙂

    Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about our middle school, and send my best to your team.

    All the best,

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