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Quincy Public School District statistics

Eleven elementary schools

Five middle schools

Two secondary schools

8,883 students enrolled in 2007-08

Quincy High School statistics (2007-08)

1,424 students

Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity (2007-2008)

9.0% are African Americans

24.9% are Asians

6.3% are Hispanic

0.4% are Native Americans

59.2% are whites

Source: Quincy High - Directory Information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Will Quincy High meet the target this year?

Not making the adequate yearly progress required by No Child Left Behind, Quincy High is trying hard to make the needed improvement despite difficulties.

By SOMSAVATH PHANTHADY

QUINCY – Frank Santoro, principal of Quincy High School, Quincy, MA, is facing an unpleasant realization about his students and program. They probably won’t meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards required by the federal No Child Left Behind mandate in 2008. And they didn’t meet them in 2007, or 2006.

“Well, after the third year, the state wants to come in,” Santoro said, “Right?” That means the school will be labeled “underperforming,” the federal funding will be withheld, and the school has to restructure, said Paul Phillips, president of Quincy Education Association.

Why has Quincy High failed to make the needed progress? Several people have several reasons, such as the types of students who go to the school.

According to 2007 AYP report published by the Massachusetts Education Department, students from subgroups – low-income families, Asian and those with limited English proficiency – didn’t make AYP goals in English Language Arts in 2007.

Santoro said white and special education students made AYP in 2007. “Yet, we haven’t met our Annual Yearly Progress in certain subgroups because we have 300 kids who are on IAP [Individual Aid Plans] that have very bad attendance. So the fact that we don’t make in certain subgroups, there are reasons.”

Adequate Yearly Progress for Quincy High School

Adequate Yearly Progress NCLB Accountability Status
    2004 2005 2006 2007  
ELA Aggregate Yes Yes Yes Yes Improvement Year 1 for subgroups
All subgroups Yes Yes No No
Math Aggregate Yes Yes Yes Yes Improvement Year 1 for subgroups
All subgroups Yes No No Yes

Source: Quincy High - 2007 AYP Data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Attendance has been an issue for Quincy High. Santoro said many students just come for English classes and then leave. In 2003, a year before he had become a principal, 140 students dropped out.

Linda Stice, former member of the Quincy Public Schools Committee agreed. She said at least 100 students knew the first day that they would leave when they entered Quincy High School. “So almost any other day there is a new student there . . . and somebody is leaving,” she said.

Over the years, the school has managed to reduce the number of students who drop out, from 140 students in 2003 to 60 students in 2006. “It’s fluctuated between 60 and 80 per year,” Santoro said. However, additional 30 to 40 students drop out every year from the evening school program.

Not only is the number of students who drop out high, but the number of absentees is high, too. “There are over 300 kids [1,500 students in total] absent every day at Quincy High,” Santoro said.

To solve the attendance issue, he has meetings with guidance, departments and students support teams every week. The school administrators even force parents to come in to talk about it by making a student sit in a detention room until the parents comes. “I met over 50 parents last year,” Santoro said.

Quincy High also houses a program for teen mothers, who have historically bad attendance. “We could get looked on negatively because we don’t make our AYP because the young ladies might be absent or might show up one day and are gone the next,” Santoro said. So if students don’t come to school, or don’t stay in it, making educational progress can be challenging.

Drop-out and attendance issues aside, the push for higher MCAS scores will put even more pressure on the school. Santoro said the required passing MCAS scores for English Language Arts and math will go up from 220 in 2008 to 240 in 2009. “We have to change things even more because we’re going to have a larger number of kids that need mediation,” he said.

Santoro said if students fail to score 240 in 2009, they have to take the second course in the same subject. “So if they fail English, they need two English classes. If they fail English and math, two Englishes and two maths. The year after that they’ll add science, you might as well not to have electives, the child will have no room in his/her schedule to do anything,” he said.

Phillips agreed. He said the focus on the MCAS on math and English language arts has devalued music and arts, drama and foreign languages because there is no test for them.

Meanwhile the school is trying hard to improve the students’ performance through teachers’ professional development and the school improvement plan.

Santoro said when students know that they are failing for the year, they don’t want to come to school. However, “What we try to do is to bring them in for one or two classes a day to tell them, ‘You can be successful, don’t stop. Maybe you can pass math, maybe you can pass English,’” he said.

“We’re working very hard to make sure that those kids graduate, do pass, and eventually they’ll do. The perception is that our school is not where is should be is unfairly judged,” Principal Santoro said.

It is disappointing to see the name of your school doesn’t make the yearly progress after the hard work that we’ve put into, said Beth Hallet, director of the Department of English Language Education at Quincy High.

However, “The most important thing is not to give up hope, not to give up on students . . .” Hallet said.