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This is Chandler Elementary School Principal Jessica Boss:
She is your typical school administrator who has risen to power by pretending that she has some magic cure to help children from impoverished communities exceed in school.
Chandler Elementary School is arguably the toughest gig of the 30+ elementary schools in Worcester. It’s in the worst neighborhood, it comes along with the least amount of parental support, it has more kids coming to school unprepared and malnourished, it has some of the highest percentages of ELL and special needs, it has the highest percentage of free or reduced lunch, and the teachers are expected to get them to ace the MCAS by the end of the year or else they’re doing a bad job.
So what happens in public schools is some young, shining star at another school replaces the existing principal, who of course was blamed for the school’s failure instead of the large socioeconomic obstacles in front of them. That shining star at Chandler Elementary was Jessica Boss.
Jessica became well known in the Worcester educational world by “turning around” Columbus Park Elementary, another impoverished school that pulls from the Lakeside Projects and Lovell Street neighborhoods. From NECN in 2014:
Wednesday, the state released the annual MCAS scores for all schools and districts. Columbus Park, whose students come from a diverse population, made the highest gains in Worcester, moving them from a level two school to a level one.
“It solidifies everything that we have done all the hard work that our teachers and students have put forth for the past several year,” says Principal Jessica Boss.
Superintendent Melinda Boone says overall Worcester Public schools made slight gains in English, Math and Science.
“We’ve been leaders in education for many years and we continue to be leaders however we still have significant achievement gaps in our schools.”
Boone says the district is focusing its efforts on several schools including three level four schools and eight innovation schools. She says the goal is ensure students are seeing individual progress.
“Growth is significant because one we begin to address how much students learn in a year then the next step is passing those tests.”
While Columbus Park made progress, statistics show that Chandler Elementary, a level four school, showed an overall decline in MCAS scores.
Old school turtle riders will remember disgraced former Worcester Public Schools superintendent Melinda Boone, who was one of the first editions to the Turtleboy graveyard after we forced her to resign in disgrace after a year or so of relentlessly exposing her corruption. Boone was a career politician who cared about one thing and one thing alone – standardized test scores. If schools improved scores then it looked good on a chart, which she could then use to try to get the superintendent gig at a bigger district that pays more money. It’s what these people do.
Melinda Boone LOVED principals who delivered good charts. She would promote these people to troubled “failing” schools, where they would miraculously make them better. All they had to do was go home and watch Dangerous Minds on repeat and Michelle Pfeifer would take care of the rest.
One of these principals she loved was Carneza Jackson. We exposed her corruption in great detail in 2015, leading to her firing last year. Another one of the principals Boone loved that year was Jessica Boss.
For those of you unfamiliar with Worcester, all of those schools except for Flagg Street are “troubled” schools in need of miracle workers like Carenza Jackson and Jessica Boss.
Here’s a video Jessica Boss made in 2014, explaining how simple it was to fix a “failing” school like Chandler Elementary:
“It’s about expectations. It’s about really consistently saying we believe in you. You are going to read and write every day and you’re not going to quit. It’s expectations. Zip code isn’t a destiny. Instead of being inept, being adept. And really working with children and telling them they’re not going to quit. And I think adults have to shift their mode of thinking.”
Gee whiz, no teacher ever thought of those things before. Prior to this brilliant mind coming to the school teachers had no expectations for kids. They told the children they were destined to drop out because they grew up in a crappy zip code.
Here’s another one about how she fixed Columbus Park:
“The way that we overcame this as an ILT and as a whole faculty is we just had some difficult conversations. And it was kind of like me as the leader had to say, can you trust me on this? Because if we wake up in the morning and we do what’s good for kids and what works for kids, this is gonna work for kids.”
This is all the type of generic, meaningless buzzword nonsense you have to spew to advance in public education. Nothing in that 30 second video actually meant anything.
Her success at Columbus Park was all smoke and mirrors according to teachers who worked there. Here’s an email we got six months ago about her:
“At Columbus Park, all of us knew that the scores were too good to be true, but Jess has a way of intimidating her staff and no teacher had enough courage to say anything. It was obvious to us because students who were poor and came from difficult backgrounds were scoring through the roof on MCAS while their classroom performance was in the toilet. I’m sure it was all whispers in the teacher’s room today after the Telegram article and Clive’s drivel about overachieving kids. There is a loophole in the test handling procedures that allows her to have access to the answer sheets after testing is done but before the materials get sent back to the state. She erases incorrect student answers and replaces them with the right answers. But Jess is not good at math and she got greedy. She could have just changed 2 or 3 answers on each test and gotten away with it. But she changed too many answers and that lead to some eye catching stats that were undeniable and the state had no choice but to investigate. She makes 150k, drives fancy car and lives in huge house while we work part time jobs in the summer to get by.”
In fairness, this is just one side of the story. We emailed Principal Boss but don’t expect to hear back from her, so we won’t be able to hear her side of the story. However, where there’s smoke there’s fire.
You’ll notice the teacher who emailed us references the praise that Clive “Spanky” McFarlane over at the Turtlegram and Gazette gave Jessica Boss. We’ve out grown Spanky, after he used us for cheap page views for so many years, and called everything we did racist.
Remember, this is the guy who “outed” Turtleboy because he found out who owned the company in public records. For years him and Dianne Pinot-Crazy Ho Williamson were the only ones with the power of the pen. We changed all that and they hate us for it.
This is also the same guy who once wrote that a kid at Burncoat High School who posed for a picture with Spanky while wearing an I Am Turtleboy shirt, was just as dangerous a kid who took a gun to school.
But I digress.
As soon as Jessica Boss got to Chandler Elementary School she magically started “turning around” this once troubled school. MCAS scores were on the rise, which was great for the School Committee and new superintendent Maureen Binienda.
But just like at Columbus Park, there were rumors that she had been cheating. When test scores went up last year the school was investigated by state officials. For the record, I’m completely opposed to testing. It takes away valuable classroom time, encourages teachers to “teach to the test,” limits creativity and academic freedom, and employs thousands of useless idiots in the standardized testing-industrial complex whose job it is to compile charts and evaluate entire schools based on how many points they went up in ELA from the previous year.
And yesterday the fears that Jessica Boss was cheating were once again validated:
Citing anomalies and “serious violations of test administration and test security protocols,” the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has invalidated the 2017 MCAS results for Chandler Elementary School in Worcester. In a letter to School Superintendent Maureen Binienda, DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley reference an ongoing investigation into the 2017 MCAS results that started last year after the discovery of “anomalies across multiple grades and subjects,” including:
The percentage of students in the “Meeting Expectations” and “Exceeding Expectations” categories
Student Growth Percentiles, or SGP
Average scaled scores
Timing patterns for responding to individual questions and to the test as a whole
The number of changed responses that led to an increase in points
In other words, she cheated TOO much. Kids answer questions in pencil. You can clearly see when an answer has been erased and the correct answer put in its place. They probably did this with hundreds of test scores, as teachers at Columbus Park allege that she did frequently. Do we know for a fact that SHE was the one who erased these questions. No. But someone at the school did, and if you’re the captain of the ship that falls on you.
Chandler Elementary School is what it is. It will never have a large percentage of kids in the “exceeding expectations” subgroup. Don’t get greedy if you’re gonna cheat.
Because of these spiked test scores Chandler Elementary was put on a watch list in 2018 and a MCAS official actually watched the tests being administered so that no shenanigans took place. And wouldn’t ya know it? Tests went back to the way they were before Jessica Boss started cheating:
The 2017 results were placed under review after the anomalies were identified. In addition, DESE also requested the school department monitor the 2018 administration of MCAS test at Chandler. That led to a staff member from the administration being present during each day of the spring test.
DESE, Riley said, compared the 2018 results to those from 2017 and noted the following:
The percentage of students in the “Meeting Expectations” and “Exceeding Expectations” categories was lower in every grade and every subject, by an average of more than 20 points
The average scaled scores were lower in every grade and every subject, by an average of more than 9 points
Growth was lower in all grades and subjects for which growth is calculated; four out of six grade/subject combinations had growth below the state median; two had extremely low median SGPs of 27 and 12
Growth was extremely low for students who tested at Chandler in 2017 and then tested at a different school in 2018. The 2018 mean SGPs of students who left Chandler were 21 for ELA (vs. 72 in 2017) and 15 for Math (vs. 70 last year)
Students who transferred from Chandler Elementary (that’s another thing that makes it hard to teach in these schools – kids are constantly moving because their guttermuppet parents don’t pay their rent) to other schools saw much lower scores. Because at their new schools the principals didn’t change their answers for them.
Now the 2017 MCAS results have been completely invalidated, and the School Committee and Mayor Puddy are freaking out and claiming she dindu nuffin:
Frustrated with the state’s lack of specifics on why it invalidated Chandler Elementary Community School’s 2017 MCAS scores last week, school officials on Monday said they want answers why the school was punished. School Committee members were also mostly supportive of the school, which Superintendent Maureen Binienda maintained last week had not done anything outside the rules based on what she knew.
The state alleges “serious violations” occurred during the school’s administration of the annual assessment last year, and indicated in a letter to Ms. Binienda on Wednesday it is still looking into the matter. So far the only punishment imposed on Chandler is the loss of its 2017 scores, which the state claims were suspiciously high relative to students’ performance on the 2018 exam.
But the state has not specified what the school might have done wrong; even Ms. Binienda said Friday she wasn’t told what the alleged violations were.
Hey Mrs. Binienda, I know what the alleged violations are – Jessica Boss cheated. She erased all the wrong answers and put the right ones, directed someone else to do it, or knew someone was doing it and did nothing to stop them. After all, she’s the rising young principal. Nothing could possibly get by her at school. There’s not much else to see here. I’m willing to bet that individual teachers at Chandler Elementary had nothing to do with this. Because unlike Jessica Boss, they’re not thinking about a promotion to the next job. They don’t get a raise if their test scores dramatically rise. As a matter of fact, they’re setting themselves up for failure the next year if they don’t cheat again. She does have the incentive to cheat though.
Apparently School Committee member Jack Foley can’t see what is plainly obvious:
“It’s a pretty strange situation,” said School Committee member Jack Foley. School board members were left wondering what exactly happened to make Chandler the only school in the state to forfeit its MCAS results that year. “It’s something we all clearly need to get more information about. The teachers and principal at Chandler deserve an answer.”
They have an answer – someone cheated. Very likely the principal. Remember what she told the teacher at Columbus Park:
“The way that we overcame this as an ILT and as a whole faculty is we just had some difficult conversations. And it was kind of like me as the leader had to say, can you trust me on this?”
Trust her. She’ll take care of it.
Mayor Moron chimed in too:
“I’d like to see this investigation finished in the next week or so,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, who serves as chairman of the School Committee. “I think it’s unfair to the school.”
Unfair to the school? How bout unfair to the kids? Their parents were robbed of knowing about the progress their children were making in school so this woman could pad her resume.
The Mayor is covering for her too:
Mr. Petty also defended the Chandler Elementary principal, Jessica Boss, who he said was “excellent,” as well as the school’s teachers.
“They have a great staff there that gives a lot to those kids,” he said, adding that while he doesn’t know what happened at the school during the 2017 MCAS testing, “I don’t think there’s anything malicious there.”
Translation – I know her. How would he know they have a “great staff that gives a lot to those kids?” Is he in the building every day? I’m sure the staff is great and they do great work for kids because I generally trust teachers. But it doesn’t mean that they’re miracle workers, which they would have to be in order to test scores to increase like this.
While past instances of MCAS scores being invalidated at Worcester schools – it also happened previously at Chandler in 2003 and at the Goddard School of Science and Technology in 2010 – resulted in some fallout for staff at those buildings, Mr. Nugent said there’s been no indication so far any staffing changes have occurred at Chandler.
Here’a an idea – stop high stakes testing. Because all you’re doing is putting unnecessary pressure on schools that have the hardest to reach population. This sort of atmosphere encourages cheating. Ya know who isn’t going to have a cheating scandal? Flagg Street. Because when your kids come from two parent homes on the west side, you don’t have to worry about them flunking the MCAS.
While Ms. Binienda has expressed a desire to move on from the state’s decision to invalidate the scores, School Committee members contacted Monday said they believe the specific alleged violations need to be revealed.
Wait…..what? Move on? Why would she want to move on? Someone at this school cheated. Jessica Boss should be thoroughly investigated. We have a Supreme Court nominee who is being denied a seat over baseless, unproven allegations. But this woman, who is the principal of a school where widespread cheating occurred, gets a pass? I like Maureen Binienda, but if she’s doing this she’s proving that she’s just Melinda Boone with a Worcester accent.
Oh, and the School Committee is backing her up too:
School Committee member Dianna Biancheria, meanwhile, was frustrated it took the state this long to come out with its determination.
“I think it’s totally unfortunate the district had to wait a year to get this type of response,” she said. “It’s really overdue.”
Ms. Biancheria also was not swayed that Chandler is guilty of any wrongdoing. “Do I think anything happened? No,” she said, based on what’s been presented so far.
You don’t think anything happened? Huh? The state literally said that widespread cheating happened. It was so serious and obvious that they negated an entire year’s worth of test scores. How blind and dumb do you have to be to think that there is no evidence of wrongdoing here.
The bottom lines is that the Mayor, the School Committee, and the Superintendent are all covering up for the principal. She is their golden goose. They have used her as the model of what a good principal looks like. Now that she’s been revealed to be a fraud they want to pretend like it never happened and sweep it under the rug.
We might not blog about stuff like this as much as we used to, but it’s what our brand was built on and we love doing that. Really brings me back to the good ol’ days.