Bates Middle School's Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) Magnet middle program has been recognized as a "school that works" by an international educational foundation.
Edutopia, the online publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, chose 192 schools from across the globe to be highlighted as part of its Schools That Work feature. It chronicles "schools, districts, and programs that are dramatically improving the way students learn," according to the Edutopia website.
Bates' PVA program started in 2009 and was Anne Arundel County’s first magnet middle school program. Since that time the number of referrals—which are students referred for disciplinary action—has dropped by 64 percent.
"Historically Annapolis, out of all the county school clusters, has had the highest rate of students leaving the district after elementary school," said Mayor Josh Cohen. "The PVA isn't the only reason why Bates has turned around, but it really changed the paradigm."
Cohen also attributed a jump in the number of engaged parents at Bates with sustaining and continuing its transformation.
For the 2012-2013 school year, Bates had 222 applicants for 105 sixth grade spots, according to numbers provided by Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Of those 222 applicants, 109 were from outside the Annapolis Cluster and 25 came from private schools.
Total school enrollment rose from 531 in 2008, the year prior to implementation of the PVA program, to about 765 this year. The official enrollment numbers for 2012 have yet to be released.
The suspension rate has decreased by 20.5 percent since 2009, and the percentage of students performing at the proficient/advanced level in math on the MSA has jumped from 62.8 percent to 77 percent.
“This has happened by design and it’s proof that when you put students first, success does follow,” said Bates Middle School Principal Paul DeRoo. "We take this acknowledgement by Edutopia very seriously—as a way of showing other schools what can be done when an entire community invests in a school.”
DeRoo joined the faculty shortly after the PVA magnet program began, and he was promoted to school principal this year.
Cohen served on County Council when the $800,000 to fully implement the Arts Magnet at Bates was approved. He said it almost didn't happen as a difficult budget year nearly caused the money for the project to be eliminated.
What pushed the project through were pleas from parents who were promised a magnet program in the spring of 2009. Many already had taken their children off of waiting lists for private schools and felt like a delay in implementation would have cheated their children.
Cohen's extremely proud of securing the money to start Bates' PVA program in 2009. He said, "It's been incredible to see the change that can hinge on one simple decision."
To view the video on Bates Middle School's PVA magnet program, click here.
Correction: The original story described referrals as students leaving the district when they are students sent from classrooms for disciplinary action. Patch regrets the error.