PhD in Public Policy

Brian Mazjanis ’15

Career

Current position: Principal, Saccarappa Elementary School, Westbrook

Brian began his career in education at Marshwood High School in Eliot, Maine, teaching both physical and life sciences, and founding the applied biology and chemistry program. He later served in educational administration at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School as an assistant principal. In 2000, he became assistant principal at Falmouth High School, then interim principal, before moving to the Westbrook School Department in 2006. In Westbrook, he led the adoption of freshmen teaming as part of the school-within-a-school initiative.

As principal at Westbrook Middle School, Brian implemented a comprehensive school reform and improvement grant, and led the design, construction, and transition to a multi-million dollar facility. He is currently the principal of Saccarappa Elementary School, a K-4 school that serves a linguistically, culturally, and economically diverse population of students. Brian has the unusual opportunity to serve as a principal in schools with grades kindergarten through twelve.

Degrees:

  • PhD in Public Policy with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Southern Maine, 2015
  • MS in Educational Leadership, University of Southern Maine, 1999 
  • BS in Secondary Education - Science, University of Connecticut, 1991 

Dissertation

Title: Different Summers: Measuring the Effect Size of Summer Vacation on Reading and Mathematics Achievement Scores for Different Populations of Maine Students

Abstract: This quantitative study of summer learning for Maine students in grades three through grades eight analyzed changes in academic achievement level in mathematics and reading that occurred during the summer recess of 2009. For mathematics, it appeared that when school was not in session, students showed a cumulative loss of nearly 11 percent of a standard deviation. Although small, the change in performance over the summer was not uniform across all grades studied. For the youngest students in this study, the summer recess represented a time where children collectively lost nearly 40 percent of a standard deviation in mathematics. While gender did not show a statistically significant affect on a child’s mathematics achievement over the summer, a child’s socioeconomic status (SES) did. Taken cumulatively over the course of this study, high-SES children made a cumulative gain of just over one third of a performance level in mathematics as compared to their low-SES classmates.

For reading achievement, it appeared that when school was not in session, students showed a slight gain in reading of just about 2 percent of a standard deviation. Again the change was not uniform: children in the youngest grades of the study appeared to gain in achievement level during the summer, while the oldest children in this study lost nearly 32 percent of a standard deviation. Both gender and SES had a statistically significant impact on a child’s summer learning. Over the five grade spans of this study, high-SES children gained nearly 25 percent of a performance level over their low-SES classmates while female students gained nearly 40 percent of an achievement level over their male classmates.

The patterns of learning exposed in this study for different categories of students during the summertime have meaningful implications for policymakers attempting to close the achievement gap. First, it suggests that efforts to close the achievement gap must include efforts to address out-of-school learning factors. Second, by including the summer learning in their calculations accountability measures that use an annual assessment to measure the effectiveness of teachers and schools at closing the achievement gap contain a substantial error.