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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Progress Report on Southbridge Public Schools

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
October 14, 2016


In January 2016, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education declared Southbridge Public Schools a Level 5 (chronically underperforming) district. Dr. Jessica Huizenga has been the receiver of Southbridge Public Schools since May 2, 2016. The turnaround plan for the district was released on June 24, 2016. I have been impressed with Dr. Huizenga's leadership and focus on improving teaching and learning in the district. At the October 25 Board meeting, Dr. Huizenga will report on various improvements that she and her team have initiated in the first few months of the 2016-2017 school year. Here are some highlights:

In August, Dr. Huizenga led three separate week-long professional development sessions for school leaders, new teachers, and returning staff and teachers. Throughout the year, staff and teachers will engage in five additional half-day and one full-day professional development sessions. In September, the district's first professional development half-day brought together staff from all the elementary schools to begin the process of improving literacy instruction across the district. Staff from the secondary schools spent the afternoon focused on specially designed instruction and universal design for learning. The district's math curriculum development team is using state standards to build a new vertically aligned and cohesive curriculum with common assessments for each grade and/or course that will enable teacher teams to use and learn from data, and Dr. Huizenga has distributed the first district-wide math common assessments for grades 1-5. Since the start of the school year, the district has distributed 1,300 Chromebooks to staff and students to enhance instruction and student learning, with new access points coming to the elementary buildings for improved Wi-Fi, and the district has fully migrated to Google and Gmail.

Dr. Huizenga will provide more details on these and other turnaround initiatives at our meeting on October 25.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Ventura Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Strategic Transformation, will join her at the meeting.

Download PDF Document  Download PowerPoint File
Southbridge Public Schools Update, October 2016

Last Updated: October 18, 2016
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