Hartford Schools Rated In New State ‘Performance Index’

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Schools Date:

The state Department of Education today released an online database called the School Performance Index, which the Courant’s Kathy Megan explains in this story.

Sound familiar? You might be thinking of Hartford’s Overall School Index, devised in 2006 under former Superintendent Steven Adamowski. That metric system ranks city schools from highest-performing to those literally in the red — the bottom-tier schools are grouped in an area shaded with the ominous color in district PowerPoint presentations.

Like Hartford’s system, the state’s index uses standardized test scores to rate schools, which is likely to draw its share of critics. In particular, the SPI puts forth a numerical scale of 1 to 100, with 88 being the target figure that indicates most students are meeting “goal” benchmarks in major subjects such as reading and mathematics.

A quick search shows that one Hartford school surpassed the state’s target: the Renzulli Gifted and Talented Academy, which has culled some of the city’s brightest students who scored highest on the Connecticut Mastery Test. (I wrote about Renzulli last month.)

I asked schools spokesman David Medina if Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, or another administrator, wanted to comment on the Hartford ratings. Medina referred me to Assistant Superintendent Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, who was out of the office today.

But in comments last week, she offered positive feedback on the state’s new index. It’s worth noting that Roberge-Wentzell was appointed the state’s new chief academic officer in November and plans to leave the school system in the spring.

She said the new accountability system is “very helpful and very much in alignment with reform in Hartford.” She said the city has a similar system of indexing schools “to understand the relative performance of our schools and the improvement.”

“For us, we’ve been looking at our schools this way for a long time,” said Roberge-Wentzell. “We were really very aware. I don’t think there were any surprises.”

The district OSI is high stakes in Hartford. If a school shows “significant growth,” everyone at the school gets a minimum $1,250 bonus, including the cook managers and custodians. For 2011-12, about 960 employees received a little more than $2 million in group performance pay.

Want to see how the state rated your school? Check out the Courant’s interactive database.

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