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Impressive Results from ASAP at Orchard Gardens

Photos: Kelly Welch, director of COMPASS' After School Action Program at Middle School Academy smiles as the program begins for the 2012-2013 school year. Ben Rockoff, former Director of COMPASS' After School Action Program at Orchard Gardens School in Roxbury, holding one of COMPASS' Violence Prevention backpacks that were distributed to participating students in Grades 6-8.

Feedback from Orchard Gardens Principal Andrew Bott regarding
COMPASS' ASAP Program:

Clearly, these remarkable gains have been a total team effort and we are certainly grateful for our many wonderful partners and supporters – COMPASS high among them. This partnership has provided a growing number of students additional small group (often individual) afterschool tutoring... We have seen clear and measurable successes and hope to continue to expand upon our capacity to ensure every OG student's specific needs our met.

Principal Bott's full letter:

Over the past two years Orchard Gardens has transformed itself from one of Massachusetts lowest performing schools to one of Boston’s jewels. We are clearly a school on the rise and are truly demonstrating what is possible for any failing urban school in the nation if that school is given the autonomy, supports and extra time needed to succeed. Orchard Gardens is proving that the right policy in line with outstanding teachers can transform a school without changing the student body. With the exact same students who were here before the turnaround work began in 2010, along with an additional 120 students we absorbed from a nearby failing school, Orchard Gardens is a case study in the extraordinary difference that amazing teachers can make in the lives of their students. We are proving that radical and substantial change can be rapidly achieved in large district schools. Orchard Gardens' turnaround effort utilizes three core strategies: people, data and time (the best possible people, with significantly more time, relentlessly using data to strengthen instruction) to fundamentally change the academic trajectory of students. Of our nearly 850 students, 55% are latino, 33% are black, and 10% are Cape Verdean; more than 90% qualify for free or reduced lunch, nearly 50% are learning to speak English, and 20% have special needs. And, most importantly, our students are succeeding.

As we begin the third year of turnaround efforts at Orchard Gardens K-8 School, the school has made unprecedented progress in two short years.

  • Our students' growth in Math over the past two years ranks in the top 1% in the state.
  • Our students' growth in English Language Arts over the past two years ranks in the top 6% of the state.
  • We are in the top 2% of all schools statewide in combined growth in English Language Arts and Math

So what do these numbers mean?

  • In 7th grade English Language Arts, 62% of our students scored Proficient or Advanced, nearly closing the gap with the state average.
  • In 6th grade Math, 56% of our students scored Proficient or Advanced, nearly closing the gap with state average.

Our students' growth also ranks us:

  • #1 in combined English Language Arts and Math growth among all large (> 750 students) middle, elementary or K-8 schools in the state
  • When comparing our middle school to 6-8 grade schools across the state, our middle school would rank #1 in combined English Language Arts and Math growth

And in terms of attendance, we achieved a 96% average daily attendance rate last school year, higher than the average attendance rate for all schools across the state.

Clearly, these remarkable gains have been a total team effort and we are certainly grateful for our many wonderful partners and supporters – COMPASS high among them. This partnership has provided a growing number of students additional small group (often individual) afterschool tutoring. Two years ago we offered a small number of students extra help in math and last year expanded the program (more than doubling the number of students reached) both providing math and ELA support. We have seen clear and measurable successes and hope to continue to expand upon our capacity to ensure every OG student's specific needs our met. Tutoring allows us to deliver rigorous classroom instruction throughout the day and then within our afterschool blocks, really target specific students struggles and delve deep into student misconception as well provide time for reteaching of certain topics or skills. When we selected students last year we looked at past MCAS performance, Anet assessments, and reading levels, among other assessment tools, and identified several of our most struggling students. In doing so, we selected students who were in many cases a few grade levels behind and our targeted group included students on IEPs (special education students) as well as several ELL (English language learners). Despite performance which in many cases remains low, the students who received tutoring support on average out performed those not in the program in terms of student growth rates (a benchmark that compares students with like profiles – past performance, coding, etc). There are also significant amounts of data that are indirectly attributable to the program. For instance, suspensions last year were down significantly, homework completion rates and class participation increased, and our student's sense of OGPS PRIDE is immeasurable.

As we close in on our post-turnaround phase, it is essential that we continue to offer our students (and find funding for) these services which have changed the course of our student lives and position them for success in high school, college, and beyond.


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