Editor's note: Audenried teacher Hope Moffett, who has publicly criticized the district's Renaissance Schools initiative, has been reassigned, according to the teachers union.
ON JAN. 25, the new Audenried High School was identified as a "Renaissance School" and slated to become a charter under outside control. Before the 11th-graders take the new school's first-ever PSSAs, before the inaugural graduating class of 2012 accepts their diplomas and before we send our students off to pursue colleges and careers, our present renaissance is being cut short.
When the new Audenried opened in Grays Ferry in fall 2008, the school district hailed it as "a fresh start for this community. . . a fresh start for not only the kids who are here now" but for "the kids who are coming in the future." Over the past 2 1/2 years, Audenried has defied the reputation of the old school and created an identity of success that speaks to the dedication of the staff, but especially to the drive and tenacity of our students.
As teachers, students and community members, our concerns are twofold: Audenried is not a failing school and the school district has not been transparent about the data used to identify our school as in need of drastic turnaround measures.
In our first year, students competed in the George Washington Carver Science Fair at Temple and won a special award for collaboration and community-building.
Under Coach Tina Wiggins, in its first year of varsity basketball, our students again separated themselves from the old Audenried, trumping the former school's historic best and winning their division.
In academics, our scores indicate that we will meet our annual goals, making us the only school scheduled for turnaround that will make AYP. As incoming ninth-graders, only 15 percent of our current 11th-graders were proficient or advanced in English and a mere 3 percent were proficient in math. This year, the second round of predictive testing shows an estimated 39 percent of 11th-graders scoring mastery or above in English and 37 percent scoring mastery or better in mathematics. Gains like these are a testament to the success of the new Audenried.
Given the absence of a School Performance Index score and PSSA data for the new Audenried, the school district explained its decision by arguing that our attendance and on-track-to-graduation data place us at the bottom of all Philadelphia high schools. They also admitted using data from the old school, which ceased to exist in 2005.
As a staff and as a community, we take issue with their justification. Our daily attendance rate is 84 percent, only a few percentage points below the 87 average for all non-Promise Academy District High Schools.
But calling it "one of the lowest in the whole district" would be incorrect as other comprehensive high schools like Fels, Strawberry Mansion, Rhodes and Roxborough, have lower attendance data. And our attendance rate increases with grade level, proving that students become more invested in our new school community as they advance.
SCHOOL officials also cited data indicating that only 52 percent of last year's freshmen earned the five or more credits needed to advance. While it's unclear how this number was calculated, this doesn't explain our ninth-grade promotion rate of 93 percent in the school year 2009-'10. The predictive data shows our students scoring at least 14 percent above both of the district's current Promise Academies in both math and English on the PSSA.
In light of the data, will the district reconsider trying to fix a school that really isn't broken?
Hope Moffett was a teacher at Audenried High School. This piece was also signed by teachers Brynn Keller, Pete Coyle, Daniel Eppihimer, Lauren Murphy, Michelle Davis and Alice Lee.