Closing Persistent Opportunity and Achievement Gaps at SHS

Please share your feedback on the Salem SOA Plan (en Espanol)

Help us sharpen our strategies to close achievement gaps at SHS!

Are we on the right track? What more can we do?

We want to hear from you!

Background on Opportunity and Achievement Gaps at Salem High School

Over the past several years, SHS has been working on redesigning its high school experience to better serve all of its 900 +/- students. In that time, the student population has grown increasingly diverse as well as economically disadvantaged (from 46% to 40% White and from 41% to 47.4% economically disadvantaged).Although some academic progress was made in the past year (moving up from the 9th to the 14th accountability percentile and showing “substantial progress toward targets” earning 58% in 2019 (up from 44% in 2018), largely driven by improved performance among the school’s lowest performing students, much more work is still needed, especially in terms of the EL, SWD, and economically disadvantaged student populations at the school. 

Achievement gaps persist in each of these areas, across all subjects (In ELA ED students perform 15 points below the schoolwide average, EL and SWD students both score 37 points below. Gaps for Math and science are similar). Indeed, it is increasingly clear that the traditional structures supporting quality education at Salem High School, while they may continue to benefit some, no longer serve the changing needs of the current student population. This must change if Salem High School is going to serve all students in the future. 

Salem’s SOA Plan (Espanol SOA Plan)

In response to the Student Opportunity Act (SOA), Salem has developed a draft plan with three initiatives to submit to the state that will account for the resources earmarked under SOA. These dollars must be spent on programs that will result in the closing and/or elimination of our achievement and opportunity gaps. 

  1. BARR+ Model (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) program. BARR provides schools with a comprehensive approach to meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students. 
  1. Charlotte Forten Early College Program. Salem High School plans to deepen its work to continue targeting and recruiting students who are traditionally underserved in higher education. 
  1. Co-teaching model for EL newcomers. SHS will maintain a co-teaching model for its EL newcomers that has helped boost academic achievement among EL students significantly over the past two years. 

Click here to see a copy of the Salem SOA Plan approved by the Salem School Committee on 3/23/20. Click here for Spanish version of the plan (en  Espanol).

Discussion Questions

  • To what extent will implementation of these three initiatives help close achievement and opportunity gaps at Salem High School? 
  • What ideas do you have to help ensure that these programs achieve their stated goals?
  • What barriers or concerns should SPS/SHS keep in mind?
  • What other ideas do you have to help close achievement gaps at SHS?