In letter to community, Alonso addresses test investigations
Baltimore City schools CEO Andres Alonso wrote a letter titled "Learning from our results" to the city school community today, where he discussed the city's 2010 Maryland School Assessment results -- which were released Tuesday -- and highlighted some successess and pitfalls in student achievement.
The CEO then went on to address the investigation into Abbottston Elementary School, whose scores plummeted in some grades from 100 percent this year. We broke the story last night that Alonso, who rarely ever will address speculation about a specific school, confirmed that the drop in scores raised red flags.
Read the CEO's letter below:
Dear City Schools Partners and Friends,
Earlier this week, I wrote to you with the news of Baltimore City Public Schools’ 2009-10 Maryland School Assessment (MSA) results. These results are both encouraging and important. They show continued growth, especially among student groups with a history of low achievement, a narrowing of the gap between elementary and middle school outcomes, and a doubling of the students performing at the highest level of performance in both reading and math over the past three years. They also highlight the critical role of attendance in student success in school.
This year’s MSA results show that of students who attended school regularly in 2009-10, 75.2 percent scored proficient or advanced on the reading MSA, compared to just 59.6 percent of students who were chronically absent, meaning missing 20 school days or more. In math the achievement gap was larger; of students who attended school regularly, 70.5 percent scored proficient or advanced on the math MSA, compared to just 48.9 percent of students who were chronically absent. And these gaps were even greater between students who attended school regularly and those who were truant or suspended.
The significance of attendance in City Schools has never been clearer: When our kids are not in school they do not achieve. And the responsibility of the City Schools community has never been starker: We must work to ensure that our kids are in school.
This year’s MSA results also highlight the performance of individual schools, and today’s news made public an investigation of test results involving Abbottston Elementary School, one of our highest achieving elementary schools in recent years. The investigation—which includes an inquiry by City Schools as well as an investigation by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) at City Schools’ request following intensive monitoring of test administration and significant drops in test scores at Abbottston this spring—is an indication of how seriously we take the need to ensure the integrity of our results.
City Schools has clear protocols in place to monitor testing; to respond to, and where necessary investigate, allegations of impropriety; and to take quick and firm action when there is the slightest evidence that alleged improprieties have occurred. We will not look the other way when there is any evidence of behavior that reflects a lack of faith in our kids, and compromises the integrity of us all. And as a result of this commitment, we will sometimes investigate schools where no wrongful or intentional action has taken place.
This process takes time and absent hard evidence, no one should make assumptions about our students or any school or school community and their hard-earned gains. As I have said repeatedly, I believe strongly that the overwhelming majority of our educators, partners and families are working incredibly hard for our kids, and they deserve huge applause. Those who try to game the system are the exception, and deserve to be exposed.
As vital partners in our students’ success, I hope you will join me in keeping the conversation alive about where we need to focus our efforts in the months ahead to keep our kids moving forward. Let’s work together to get them to, and keep them in school. And let’s be sure to lift them up as we go.
Thank you for all that you do for our students and our schools.
Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.
CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools