Partnership Zone School (Round 2) Profile: Lewis Dual Language Elementary School

September 12th, 2011

Category: News

On September 1st, 2011, Secretary Lowery and the Department of Education announced the 6 schools chosen to participate in round 2 of the statewide Partnership Zone Initiative (for more information about the Partnership Zone, see our previous blogs). This blog is the fourth of a six part series detailing these six schools (part one, part two, part three).

Lewis is a dual language elementary school in the Red Clay school district located in the Hilltop neighborhood right next to the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington Delaware. “Dual language” means that students receive half of their instruction in English and the other half in Spanish. Lewis currently serves 438 students in grades K-5, 84% of which are low income, 83% Hispanic/Latino, and 66% ELL (Lewis’ dual-language program means students in its feeder pattern can opt-out and ELL students outside of its feeder pattern can opt-in without having to go through school choice, which likely explains some of these proportions).

Based on 2011 DCAS spring scores (50% of the determination for PZ schools), Lewis students:

  • Demonstrated much lower proficiency in both ELA and math than the district average (which in turn was lower than the state average).
  • Performed significantly more poorly than the district and state in 4th and 5th grade in both subjects, having gaps as wide as 46% and 59% (vs. district and state respectively) in 5th grade math and 47% and 57% in 4th grade ELA.
  • Looking at fall to spring growth (not a PZ determination factor but important nonetheless), Lewis’ 4th and 5th graders showed less improvement than the district or state (5th graders actually demonstrated a loss in proficiency).

Based on DSTP historical trends (2008-2010, the other 50% of the determination), Lewis students:

  • Have seen sharper declines than the district or state in both ELA and math in grades 4 and 5.
  • Have seen growth in proficiency in both ELA and math in grades 2 and 3, consistently outperforming the district and state.

Lewis’ data raises some interesting questions. In ELA, Lewis’ proficiency dropped dramatically with the implementation of the new DCAS (much more than the district or state’s proficiency). Lewis has a very high proportion of ELL students, and statewide the ELL achievement gap widened by about 15 percentage points, so this may explain part of the gap we see in achievement between Lewis and the district or state. Also, Lewis’ 4th and 5th graders are doing far worse than the 2nd and 3rd graders in the school and there is no clear answer as to why.

Whatever the case, the numbers are clear: Lewis’ students are far underperforming their peers, are not learning as much during the school year, and it seems like this situation has gotten worse in the past few years. In 2008 they were superior; in 2009 they missed AYP and have each year since (2011 is the 3rd year). The DDOE is reviewing requests for qualification from organizations who may be invited to present to school and districts later this month that have experience taking a low-performing school and turning it around.

Help Red Clay make the right decisions at their next School Board Meeting on Wednesday, September 21st at Warner Elementary .

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Brian Yin



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