Neely’s Bend Rising

In December of 2014, after a battle that pitted two schools against each other for the right to be taken over by the Achievement School District, Neely’s Bend Middle School was chosen and handed over to the LEAD charter school network — to be taken over grade-by-grade, starting with 5th grade in the 2015-16 school year.

Supporters of Neely’s Bend, including many parents (who started a support group known as Neely’s Bend United), suggested that the school belonged to the community and that it was making progress and just needed more time to demonstrate it.

In fact, Neely’s Bend had posted modest gains in Math and Reading in 2014 and a pretty impressive level of growth in Science.  Now, the results from 2014-15 are out and they show a school that while still struggling, is making real progress according to the state’s growth metrics.

Here are the numbers:

Neely’s Bend Middle School Growth Rate by Subject

2014                          2015

Math                   0.8                            8.9

Reading             2.7                              -5.0

Science              5.7                              8.7

By way of comparison, the average growth rate in MNPS was 2.8 in Math, -1.4 in Reading, and 1.0 in Science.

Neely’s Bend is showing a growth rate well above the district average and has posted consecutive years of growth in both Math and Science, with some pretty solid numbers in Science over the past two years.

While reading is an area of concern, both MNPS and the state showed a decline in reading in 2014-15. Additionally, it’s possible that Neely’s Bend is suffering from the same slowed growth as other middle schools in reading, as evidenced by a newly released study on TVAAS scores.

The Achievement School District handed Neely’s Bend over to LEAD because the school was supposedly so low-performing it needed a remake in order to start showing growth. Except it looks like Neely’s Bend is showing growth already.

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5 thoughts on “Neely’s Bend Rising

  1. Your data appears to be incorrect. The TVAAS site shows Neely’s Bend MS Growth Index for math was 0.92, RLA – 0.2, and Science 6.4.

    You should also note that the Neely’s Bend match was made in December of 2014. So ASD officials could in no way have known how the school’s data was looking.

    “more time” has not proven to be a successful strategy when the district is in charge of operating the school.

    • I’m looking at raw growth in number of students labeled proficient/advanced — the same numbers the ASD is using to talk about their “incredible” gains.

      That data can be found here: Additionally, drilling down to the grade level results reveals lots of GREEN and BLUE — positive gains relative to the state growth standard. The results you cite do indicate that Neely’s Bend composites for those subjects were ABOVE the growth standard — in each case. Look at all grades in Math — at or above the growth standard. 7th and 8th grade reading: ABOVE the growth standard. 5th and 7th grade science gains are particularly impressive, and gains in 8th are notable.

      The point of my story was: Teachers and parents at the school suggested that Neely’s Bend was already turning around — independent of the ASD. These numbers seem to bear that out. Why disrupt a school that the community has rallied around and that the numbers now show is turning around while being operated by the district?

      • Change in proficiency is good to look at, but for “growth” you should also look at TVAAS. Lots of things can happen to change the cohort of kids at a school that would change the % P/A number. The Neely’s Bend science number of 6.4 is a good TVAAS growth score, but the math and literacy growth scores are meh.

        The Priority rating assigned to Neely’s Bend as you know means they are bottom 5% in the state, which is a 3 year calculation of data…so they’ve been low performing for a long time (they need consistent years of being much stronger than at or around the growth standard).

        In general, I agree with your point that schools that are genuinely (I emphasize genuinely) turning around…it’s sensical to let what’s going on in that turnaround continue.

        But let’s be honest with the facts here Andy. The TEA was heavily involved (and still is) in “rallying behind” Neely’s Bend. It wasn’t so much the actual parents of that school that “resisted” (many of the parents are excited that LEAD will now be the operator).

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