Alma del Mar gets results for New Bedford kids. Our scholars consistently outperform their local peers on the state MCAS tests and are now in many cases on par with students in nearby suburbs.
In Math, Alma scholars passed the state test at a higher rate than both their district and statewide peers. Our scholars also outperformed their district peers in ELA and nearly matched the state average.
Alma’s special population scholars consistently outperform the state average as well as their district peers. In fact, Alma’s high needs scholars outperformed the general population of students citywide on the MCAS. This makes clear that Alma’s high support model leads all of our scholars to achieve to their potential.
This year’s data affirms that students with higher needs do particularly well at Alma. Most notably, Alma scholars classified as English language learners passed the MCAS at twice the rate of their statewide peers. In addition, students with disabilities at Alma passed the MCAS at nearly twice the rate of their statewide peers in math and at an 8% higher rate in English. Students of color, a group historically underserved by public schools nationwide, fare better at Alma, according to this recent data. Both African American and Latino scholars at Alma passed the MCAS at nearly double the rate of their statewide peers.
Through their own hard work, our scholars are proving that effort determines success – not innate ability, luck, zip code, or family background.
All of the supports outlined in the above sections create the conditions under which Alma is able to implement a rigorous and demanding academic program. In our most recent family survey, 97% of parents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement Alma sets high expectations for my scholar. At Alma, these high expectations mean that scholars are routinely asked to demonstrate mastery of content and skills by producing high quality work. An example of this more expansive view of scholar achievement, informed by our work with EL Education, is our practice of having 8th Graders prepare and conduct Passage Presentations. During Passage, each scholar presents reflections on his or her academic growth, character and high school readiness to a panel consisting of a school administrator, one of their teachers and their choice of family members and other important adults in their lives. The following describes a moment from a recent Passage Presentation:
Reflecting on a particularly strong essay she wrote about honey bee hive collapse, John-nae remarked, “I think I really did a good job researching the counter claim on this essay, and that made my argument stronger.” Asked how this skill might apply beyond this one essay, she continued, “I think it’s important to back up your argument with strong evidence. A lot of people are just going by what other people like their neighbors say, but that’s not always the best way to form opinions.”
We take the work of preparing our scholars to be service-minded leaders seriously, and our academic results support this claim. Alma scholars not only outperform their district peers on MCAS, they often outperform their peers in the surrounding suburbs. In some areas, our scholar achievement now matches some of the highest performing schools in the Commonwealth.
We created Alma to be a game-changing school for kids from New Bedford. These results affirm that we are on our way toward that mission.
We work hard with our families to maintain our average daily attendance rate of 97.1%. Nearly all our parents have at least four face-to-face meetings with their scholar’s teacher each year. Each year begins with the teacher visiting the scholar’s home to meet with the family. Ninety-seven percent of parents report these home visits are a valuable part of the Alma experience.
Alma del Mar scholars experience a school culture that combines high expectations with extensive support. Our curriculum, instruction, support services and school culture are designed to address the specific needs of New Bedford children so they can reach their full potential and set forth on the path to college. While at Alma, scholars at held to high standards of behavior, including: “tracking” the speaker, be it a classmate or teacher; working independently and diligently, even in kindergarten; following directions immediately; being considerate in words and actions; coming prepared to learn every day; and doing their best work every day and allow others to do theirs. Our scholars thrive on the challenge.