Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Promise Neighborhoods conceals results of its $60 million grant to Castle Park neighborhood and schools

Promise Neighborhoods conceals Castle Park from search results from its website--so what's the truth about its $60 million grant to Castle Park?
December 2, 2014
by Maura Larkins

The Castle Park area in Chula Vista, CA was granted $60 million in Promise Neighborhood money two years ago, in December 2012.  What improvements in student performance have been seen since the money started being spent in early 2013?  Strangely, Promise Neighborhoods took credit for improvements in the spring 2013 test scores at Castle Park Middle School though some think that the new principal, not Promise Neighborhood, deserved credit for the student progress.
But I'd be willing to give Promise Neighborhoods some of the credit if test scores had gone up again in spring 2014.  But strangely, Promise Neighborhoods is silent about those scores.

In fact, Promise Neighborhoods doesn't seem to want people to see the June 2013 article announcing the spring 2013 scores.

Today I tried to search the Promise Neighborhood website for "castle park elementary" and that article didn't even show up in the results!  I also searched for "Chula Vista" and got no results.

What kind of a search tool do they have that would leave out their own article?

I clicked on the tag "chula vista" at the bottom of the article and discovered only one other article that mentions Chula Vista Promise Neighborhoods. This last article is dated Aug. 22, 2013.  It's now December 2014.  Why no follow-up on the $60 million investment????

The links in the Castle Park article are not so great either.   The link to the Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood’s South Bay Community Services resulted in this message: "Not Found--The requested URL /services/promise-neighborhood/ was not found on this server.

I'm guessing that things aren't so great in Castle Park!  But if a
$60 million grant isn't working, shouldn't Promise Neighborhoods be honest about it?  Who is gaining from their secrecy?

Here's the June 2013 article:

Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood Gets Results with Innovative School Turnaround Model
June 7, 2013
By Samuel Sinyangwe
Promise Neighborhoods Institute

Groundbreaking research from Dr. Robert Balfanz establishes that middle
school is a “make or break” period for children. Children who fail math or
reading, are suspended or expelled, and/or are chronically absent during these
critical years often drop out when they get to high school. To keep children on
the path to success, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood’s South Bay
Community Services has collaborated with Principal Robert Bleisch to
implement the Granger Turnaround Model (GTM) at Castle Park Middle School.
This innovative model has produced immediate, dramatic results in ELA and
Math proficiency scores and attendance in all five schools that have adopted
the model to date.

How do they do it? Through a well-defined, data-driven system that intervenes
immediately to keep students from falling behind. When students are absent,
they make up that learning time during the weekend. If a student fails a quiz,
they are re-taught after-school and re-tested the following week.

The system works through collaboration. South Bay Community Services
provides staff who collect daily achievement and attendance data before the
bell rings to identify students who need support. They then distribute folders to
these students at the end of the school day telling them where to go for
appropriate intervention. Students are re-taught until they succeed, teachers
feel more empowered when they see their students improve, which leads to a
culture of success for the entire school.

During the first year of GTM implementation (2011-2012), Castle Park Middle
School dramatically increased math and science proficiency scores, reduced
incidences of misbehavior and achieved a remarkable 99% attendance rate!
Given these impressive results, Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood is
replicating the GTM model at
Castle Park Elementary School and Hilltop Middle


  please help me understand why stories like this never hit the mainstream
media. in our part of the country, we are trying to change the downward curve,
and it is perfect time for info to get before people who are trying to save public
education. the other piece is that patents and caregivers need to get the same
info in an appropriate way so that THEY WOULD BE MORE PRONE TO
COOPERATE ! i guess that only so much can be done at one time. keep up the
great work and collaboration!!

  Comment by don speaks — June 10, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  Hi Don,

  We agree!

  If you think these stories should get more coverage, help us spread the word
by sharing this post via email to your networks, posting on social media, etc! If
we show interest, reporters will take note.


  Comment by Shantha — June 10, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

[Maura Larkins' comment: It would be appropriate for Promise Neighborhoods to share its 2013-2014 results.  Where are they????]

  Just a couple of comments from a teacher at Castle Park Middle, although
aspects of this model have merit it must be said that the way the model has
been portrayed here does not reflect what is actually happening at CPM. The
data that is being used to show growth is from the 2011-2012 school year, that
was the year Principal Bleisch took over as principal, the school did not start
implementing these reforms until the 2012-2013 school year; the growth is from
the hard work of teachers not from Principal Bleisch’s reforms. Interesting this
starts with a statement of the need to keep students in school since for the last
month of school many students (low scoring, attendance issues, behavior
problems) were forced onto independent study contracts to keep them out of
school and then were removed from our attendance rolls the last week of
school to take their grades and scores off of the books. Principal Bleisch is
attempting to gain notoriety and make money off his “system”. That is why he
takes credit for everything good, blames teachers for anything wrong, and has
no qualms forcing students and parents to sign away their rights.

  Comment by CPM Teacher — June 12, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

Update: Promise's 2013 report states: "CVPromise Staff who live or grew up in Castle Park or surrounding neighborhoods--98%"


Patty Chavez said...

Please visit www.CVPromise.org. If you have further questions, please contact PattyChavez@csbcs.org.

Maura Larkins said...

Hi Patty,
I visited the website you linked to, but all I saw was lists of how money was spent and how many children received services.

What I'm interested in is finding out if all this money--$60 million in total--is actually changing things.

Why have you not reported how much test scores have improved during the 2013-2014 school year?

Promise Neighborhoods claimed that test scores had improved as of June 2013, but Promise should not have taken credit for those scores since the program was only announced in late December of 2012 and there was very little implementation before June 2013. At least one commenter claims that Principal Bleisch, not Promise, deserves credit for progress at Castle Park Middle School.

So what were the test results for the 2013-2014 school year?