One year in at the new John Marshall campus; new academic culture yields results in Education Corridor
In its first year of operation, all of John Marshall’s 9th and 10th grade students learned more in math and reading than the national norm for their grade level in these subject levels, no matter which school the students and parents choose to enroll: the John Marshall School of Information Technology (JMIT), the John Marshall School of Civic and Business Leadership (JMCBL), or the John Marshall School of Engineering (JMSOE). All three of these schools are located in the same new campus on the W. 140th Education Corridor, a moniker Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation (BPDC) has been using for the stretch of the street from Puritas to Lorain Ave. because of its unique assets: three new public school buildings, an exceptional private school, and one of the busiest branches of the Cleveland Public Library system.
The national norms published by Northwest Education Association (NWEA) expect 9th and 10th graders to grow .8-1.7 Rasch units in reading (known as RIT scores and named after Georg Rasch, mathematician in the education assessment field). Although 1.7 is a small number, once students anywhere in the United States are in high school, learning gains slow, with the most growth occurring in any subject in the primary grades (1st-3rd). Nationally, 9th and 10th graders learn enough math to take their RIT score 2.3-3.1 points higher.
The JMH campus 9th and 10th graders learned enough to move RIT scores in math anywhere from 8-23 levels higher and 2-14 in reading. The most math growth on campus occurred in 10th graders at the (JMIT) as they increased on average 20 points in their growth. The largest reading score jump was 14 point increase in average growth at the JMCBL. JMIT Principal Chelsey Cook attributes much of the substantial math RIT gains to having the campus increase wifi and bandwith so that every room in the building has wifi and so many students can be online at one time to use aides like Khan Academy. With this online program, students can do an individual lesson as at their own pace, depending on what the student is working on. It includes videos, lessons, and quizzes.
The context of the scores is that all three thematic schools have no minimum grade point average for admission and none of the schools require an admission test. Students with varying academic performance levels, some greatly behind grade level when they entered the school, contributed to the substantial progress as reported in these average RIT gains. These large average gains illustrate rigorous academic work by all the students, no matter a student’s grade-level proficiency at the start of the year.
Principal Timothy Primus’s School of Engineering did its most growth in 10th grade reading skills, jumping an average of 11.4 points on the RIT scale. Outside of standardized tests, Primus also reported that 54 of the 189 JMSOE students received college credit this academic year. Despite underrepresentation in the engineering industry at large, he reported at Project Inspire (an end of year community event) that 67% of his students are female.
Among JMSOE partnerships Primus described at Project Inspire were Turner Construction, Cleveland State University’s Fenn College of Engineering, Alcoa, St. Edward’s, and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). (Incidentally, Tri-C had three Marshall students on its world championship robotics team [see Bellaire-Puritas Community Post Summer 2016 edition, page 6 for story and photos]). Primus highlighted PPG Industries, Inc. for its generous grant award of $20,000 for supplies for a mobile makerspace. The mobile makerspace is destined for special education classes to enhance learning with 3-D imaging and tools to build models and prototypes.
Both the JMSOE and JMIT created 3 career pathways each for their respective student bodies to explore and gain certification in. JMSOE is showcasing pathways in aerospace engineering, environmental engineering, and civil engineering and architecture to 9th and 10th graders, while students pick one of these fields to focus on their 11th & 12th grade years.
JMIT will share a similar pattern of exploring 3 pathways and focusing students on one pathway of their choosing in the upperclass grades. Healthcare IT is a new field that John Carroll University will partner with JMIT to expose students to mentors and career skills. Software development is another pathway that will be presented to JMIT Lawyers with partnership from Cleveland State University. Although all the pathways will lead to mentorship and industry-recognized credentials, the cyber security pathway at JMIT will be creating a new academic support system at Tri-C Westshore Health Careers and Sciences campus in Westlake.
Of all the changes at JMIT next year, Principal Cook is most excited that it is an official Facing History school. Facing History Ourselves is “an international nonprofit educational and professional development organization,” according to its website. JMIT joined its network of local schools alongside Magnificat, Laurel School, Facing History New Tech, Hawken Middle School, and Hathaway Brown Middle School. Cook expects it to transform the student culture with a focus on things like empathy and global citizenship. Cook envisions more meaningful community engagement as a result. For example, the West Park community may come to campus for a showing of a documentary about a girls’ school in Afghanistan, with conversation afterwards on a broad topic like the value of education.
JMIT was awarded Advanced Placement (AP) classes and AP professional development for area teachers from the National Science & Math Initiative. New classes this school year are AP Computer Science Principles & AP Language, which is what AP calls its English course. (AP classes are rigorous and taught in-school, culminating in a test that can reward students with full or partial credit at most colleges.) The whole Marshall Campus will be allowed to enroll in all the AP offerings, and eventually JMIT will have an AP class in every subject area. In future years, the offerings will expand to include: AP Calculus, AP Environmental Studies, AP US History and maybe AP Biology, AP Literature, and AP Computer Science A (“A” is for Application).
JMCBL, “through exposure to educational and real world opportunities,…strives to assist scholars in finding their own mission, passion, and purpose to create the next generation of Cleveland leaders.” Scholars completed over twice their goal of community service hours, logging 738 hours as a school! Further towards its mission, it opened Lawyer’s Café, a student-run coffee shop with the partnership of Rising Star Roasters.
New partnerships are still developing at JMCBL. This summer, JMCBL launched a pilot landscaping business and raised matching funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Principal Sara Kidner plans on students opening a credit union this winter. Kidner also wants to add an internship experience for on-track seniors as a portion of their school day. (Kidner previously worked St. Martin De Porres High School (SMDP), a tuition-free, Catholic, Jesuit private high school. SMDP has work experience for all its students, which subsidizes the cost of providing the education.) Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) will bring two programs to JMCBL, E-City (entrepreneurial) and Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates (JOG) (workforce development) in Fall 2016 to prepare youth more broadly for the world of work. Another new partnership with JMCBL is that students will be able to take classes at Notre Dame College to fulfill their CMSD requirements.
To build a closer-knit community, the campus schedule is changing to an 8am start for all. Ninth through eleventh grades will dismiss at 3pm while seniors will dismiss at 2:30pm.
Background on Education Corridor
The largest investment on the Education Corridor has been made by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). Since 2009, CMSD has invested approximately $80 million on this street in three new school buildings. Garfield and Artemus Ward, both K-8 schools, were rebuilt and opened in 2009 and in August 2015 the new John Marshall High School opened. John Marshall alone was a $45 million project.
Significant dollars being invested in the infrastructure of West 140th Street and the adjacent access points to West 140th Street. The West 140th bridge over I-71 was replaced at a cost of $2 million and in March 2015 the Lorain Avenue rehabilitation project from West 117th to West 150th began and includes significant streetscape enhancements. The Lorain Avenue project will cost $8.3 million. Puritas Avenue, which notably provides the nearest access to Birchwood (private) & Artemus Ward Schools and is the location of Rockport Library, was completed in the spring of 2015 to the tune of $3.6 million. Both Lorain and Puritas Avenues’s streetscape improvements include bike lanes and sharrows and Lorain has new and enhanced crosswalks.
Private physical investment is also occurring along the corridor. In 2013 PPG Industries invested approximately $27 million in an expansion project which included building a new building and upgrading a road on their property.
As the local non-profit development agency, BPDC has used its assets to enhance this corridor. BPDC received a $16,000 grant from the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to improve the transit-waiting environment at the bus stop on the southwest corner of Lorain and West 140th Street. With the strength of the county-wide network for youth development called MyCom, BPDC hosted weekly Teen Job Club meetings for 8th-12th graders on the John Marshall campus in the 2015-16 school year, involving an average monthly attendance of 45, most from the John Marshall Campus. Job club members worked on resumes early in the year, went on field trips to worksites, had guest speakers from various careers and from different youth employment programs, and planned a job and community service fair for their peers in the spring.
Given all this physical and educational investment by major institutions and public works, totaling over $100 million, people interested in investing in their homes can consult BPDC’s housing director, Toni Jones, to find out about homeownership opportunities, low-interest loans for rehab, and advice for working with contractors at 216-671- 2710 ext. 205. Business looking for space, expansion, or remodeling should contact Melissa Miller, BPDC’s neighborhood planning coordinator, for technical assistance at 216-671-2710 ext. 214.