NEW BEDFORD — School Superintendent Pia Durkin presented her annual self-evaluation to the School Committee on Monday as the committee prepares to weigh in on her performance in about a month's time.

She listed what she considers her top six accomplishments, including increases in achievement scores, reaccreditation of New Bedford High School, and the school district's release from state monitoring.

"I firmly believe that I am leading, with a lot of people, the right work," she said.

In July, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the school system from district-wide monitoring, which had been required for the past six years. At the time, the agency's Russell Johnston, senior associate commissioner, said New Bedford had established effective processes to continue to improve.

What that means, Durkin told the committee Monday, is that "what we said we were going to do, we did."

With regard to test scores, she said three schools have moved out of the lowest percentile grouping, the 1st to 4th percentiles, and four have moved into the highest grouping, the 51st to 99th percentiles.

She said the rate of qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams (3 or above) has increased from 22 percent to 36 percent and indicates the changing nature of instruction at the high school, emphasizing the idea that everyone can achieve.

Durkin also pointed to the launch of the educational redesign of the middle schools. Each school wrote its own plan that included items such as new courses, more flexibility in schedules, and structured teacher-student mentoring.

"That demonstrates buy-in, as well as indicating that people are owning the work," she said.

As part of her presentation, Durkin showed slides with data on the number of student referrals to school offices. Referrals at New Bedford High dropped 13 percent in 2016-17 from the previous year, but they still numbered more than 10,000.

School Committee member Joaquim "Jack" Livramento expressed concern that the number sounded high, but Durkin said it included referrals for all sorts of reasons, including tardiness.

Committee members said they would like, particularly for the public's benefit, to see a breakdown of office referrals for tardiness or minor infractions versus more serious disruptive behavior.

The superintendent has provided a binder of evidence for her self-evaluation to each School Committee member, and they are expected to send written evaluations to School Committee member Lawrence Finnerty by Nov. 29. He will act as the aggregator of their evaluations this year, he said.

Durkin is on her second three-year contract with the district. It runs through June 30, 2019.

 

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