Monday, February 28, 2011

DESE 'Common Criteria' - For All Schools EXCEPT MVRCS!

We came across the following information at ( and thought that it was interesting and worth sharing. The document that it was contained in was described as the ‘common school performance criteria’ from the DESE. Given our most recent blog regarding what we felt to be a less than adequate concern level on behalf of Jeff Wulfson at the DESE, it is interesting to see what MVRCS SHOULD be being evaluated on.  
Comments we found most interesting have been bolded while our comments are in red.

The Common School Performance Criteria (Criteria) have been developed using the three guiding areas of charter school accountability defined in the current regulations, 603 CMR 1.00 – faithfulness to charter, academic success, and organizational viability.
The purposes of the Criteria are:
to bring alignment to the criteria used across all aspects of charter school accountability, from the application process to the renewal process;

to provide charter schools with clear guidance about how the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) defines charter school success and on what basis charter schools will be evaluated; and

to clarify the connections between charter school accountability and state and federal accountability standards.

There is a wide range of sources of evidence that will provide the data to help charter schools, the Charter School Office, and the Commissioner and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education know if a charter school has met performance expectations. A partial list of evidence sources is attached after the Criteria.

            Unfortunately, the wide range of sources that are listed at the end of this document DO NOT include concerned parents other than those chosen by the school to participate in an interview.

Mission, Vision, and Educational Philosophy
The school is faithful to the mission, vision and educational philosophy defined in the charter application and any subsequent approved amendment(s).
           We once again find ourselves drawn to the Mission Statement from the 2003-2004 Annual Report and wonder how true the Board is staying to their original mission statement. If, as is stated below, ‘that a first rate education is the birthright of every child’ then why is has the lottery and waitlist come under such scrutiny these past few years and why are only certain families permitted entry? We’re also not seeing anything in this mission statement (or even the most recent one) pertaining to creating a school that places athletic facilities above academic needs.
To establish a school which provides the opportunity of a world-class education. The prime characteristics being a well mannered disciplined and structured academic environment. One which promotes and incorporates certain core virtues, as well as, our common American culture, both which are embodied in our Declaration of Independence and our United States Constitution.
The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School was founded on the following principal:
·          That a first-rate education is the birthright of every child,
·          That all children can learn,
·         That every child should be challenged to reach his or her full potential.
The overachieving goals of the school are to:

Demonstrate the heights of academic achievement that public schools can routinely attain when the advantages of charter school governance are coupled with new academic standard,

Offer area families new choices in public education,

Create new professional opportunities for teachers that permit them to succeed,

Graduate well educated, civic minded, principal adults capable of thoughtful, logical reasoning.

The school makes Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the aggregate and for all statistically significant sub-groups.3
The school does not have a status for accountability purposes of Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring.
          But the school does, and has had a status of Corrective Action and/or Restructuring yet nothing is done about it.

Diverse learners
The school provides services for all students, including English language learners and those with disabilities and/or special education needs, as required by law.
The school implements and follows a Department approved recruitment and retention plan.
            Yes, another big one in our book. The DESE has ruled in a hearing that MVRCS was not providing an adequate education for a student, parents and teachers have filed numerous complaints with the DESE, and we have been in contact on several occasions YET NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
As for the ‘approved recruitment and retention plan’, the DESE has ‘directed’ MVRCS to place recruitment ads in languages other than English yet to our knowledge, they have not.

Professional climate
Teachers are provided with feedback and guidance that leads to improved instructional practice and student achievement.
Teachers can’t approach any Administrator at the school for assistance without it being used against them. Teachers receive less than adequate training and guidance in issues pertaining to Special Education matters.
The school implements a professional development plan that effectively addresses the needs of teachers.
Little attention is given to ‘professional development’ other than the hearing more of the same from the Administration. At no time do they have outside speakers come in to speak on matters that would matter or make a difference to the teachers professionally.

Teachers are provided with structures for collaboration.
The school establishes a professional climate resulting in a purposeful learning environment and reasonable rates of retention for school administrators, teachers and staff.
The retention issue at MVRCS is as joke. With Neil Kinnon believing a monkey could do what teachers do, it is no wonder that they feel underappreciated and disrespected. Again, the only retention plan in place is to hire and retain as many friends and family members as possible – regardless of their abilities or qualifications.

The school’s curriculum is documented, articulates the skills and concepts that all students must know and be able to do to meet state standards, is aligned horizontally and vertically, and supports opportunities for all students to master these skills and concepts.
The part we find interesting here is ‘ALL STUDENTS’….yes, Kathy Kinnon that means those students that have IEP’s and require additional services. Unfortunately we’ve been noting how few of the Special Education students actually pass the MCAS tests.

Decision making and communication
The school has clear and well-understood systems for decision-making and communication. These systems result in a common sense of purpose for all school constituencies.
                A ‘clear and well-understood systems for decision-making’ ----yes, all decisions are made by Neil Kinnon and based on his many years of formal education and training within an educational setting. Oh yes, that’s right, he doesn’t have ANY formal education or training in School Administration OR teaching (in fact, he doesn’t have any respect for the profession of teaching!).

Roles and responsibilities
The school defines and delineates clear roles and responsibilities among board and staff.
In one of the annual reviews the reviewer made mention of his concern for the lack of delineation between the Board and the day to day operations of the school.

Board oversight
The board of trustees makes use of best practices to hire (an) effective school leader(s).
Yes, friends and family members who agree to follow the orders of Neil Kinnon
The board of trustees regularly and systematically assesses the performance of (the) school leader(s) against clearly defined goals and makes effective and timely use of the evaluations.
Yes, the Board assesses the performance of school leaders in a very unbiased, honest, and ethical manner……EXCEPT of course those members of the friends and family club. How  Neil Kinnon can assess his sister in law , brother, childhood friend, friends of friends, etc. in an unbiased, truthful, ethical manner is beyond us…..because it doesn’t happen!

The board of trustees operates with a clear set of goals for the school and has developed a set of tools for understanding progress toward meeting those goals.

The board of trustees manages the school in a manner that ensures academic success, organizational viability, and faithfulness to the terms of its charter.
Is a response even necessary for this one? As long as you leave out corruption, unethical behavior, conflicts of interest, putting sports before academics, and back room deals, no comments are required.

School leadership
School leaders administer the school in a manner that ensures academic success, organizational viability, and faithfulness to the terms of its charter.
Are we referring to Dr. McCleary who is given little say beyond the art that is placed on the walls or Chris Finn who has the job only as a result of his childhood friendship with Neil Kinnon (yes, a Business Manager would naturally progress into an Assistant Director position - - - right?). Oh, what about Kathy Kinnon who does little besides make sure she is at the Chinese Buffet on Chinese New Years? Note to Kathy Kinnon….faithfulness to the terms of the charter would mean that all the students receive an education, even those who are on your poorly written IEP’s.

Organizational planning
The school has realistic plans for program improvement, possible future expansion, and adequate facilities based on evaluation and analysis of data.
We like ‘adequate facilities’ on this one….yes, they’ll have adequate athletic facilities and really, who cares about adequate facilities at the lower campus. So they’re a little cramped in there, just think how great it will be to have a state of the art athletic facility for yet another friend or family member to manage!

Family engagement
The school involves parents/guardians as partners in the education of their children.
Families and students are satisfied with the school’s program.

Yes, parents are partners as long as they remember that Neil Kinnon has the final say and that he ‘doesn’t have to have open meetings’ for them.
Coordinated Program Review
The school receives minimal findings in the Coordinated Program Review (CPR) process and immediately addresses any areas of non-compliance.
Funny, some issues have been addressed and re-addressed in multiple year visits yet no corrective action has been taken. Board of Trustees issue for one.

The school establishes and maintains a physically safe environment for students and staff.
The school establishes an environment free from harassment and discrimination for students and staff, and effectively addresses the social, emotional, and health needs of its students.

No discrimination in this school but if a student does do well they use systematic elimination. That isn’t discrimination is it….? Really?

Employee qualifications
Employees of the school meet all applicable state and federal qualifications and standards.
Ok so only 55% of the teachers are truly qualified (i.e. certified to teach in Massachusetts), oh well.

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad that the Upper School is the way that it is... they've lost the vast majority of their phenomenal teachers, and retained the less-than-stellar ones. A few exceptions, of course (Bradford comes to mind), but some of the best are long gone. Roman, Mucha, Young, Peledge, et al.