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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on Level 5 Schools

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
April 7, 2017


In the fall of 2013, four schools were designated as chronically underperforming (or Level 5) schools in response to their low performance and lack of improvement while Level 4 schools: John P. Holland Elementary School (UP Academy Holland) and Paul A. Dever Elementary School (Dever) in Boston, Morgan Full Service Community School (Morgan) in Holyoke, and John Avery Parker Elementary School (Parker) in New Bedford.

This month I am presenting the third of four FY2017 quarterly progress reports to the Board on the four schools with updates from each receiver and Superintendent Durkin on implementation of the school turnaround plans, focusing on activities from January-March 2017. The reports are provided as attachments to this memo. The annual reports for FY2017 will be presented in June 2017.

UP Academy Holland Update

Tim Nicolette, President of the UP Education Network, will be at the April 18 meeting to update the Board on progress and ongoing work at UP Academy Holland (UAH). Here are some highlights from UAH:

School leaders at UP Academy Holland (UAH) have maintained their focus on several key areas to support the continued academic and social and emotional development of all students: ensuring educators have effective intellectual preparation that leads to conceptual instruction; deepening teachers' understanding of key parts of lesson components; strengthening teachers' ability to deliver individualized instruction; and developing adult capacity to help children learn to manage their emotions. A key initiative that supports rigorous intellectual preparation is Drop Everything and Prepare (DEAP), a time of day in which teacher teams prepare for the next day's lessons by reviewing what they are going to do and say in each part of the lesson, scripting out key teaching points, and planning strategies to uncover and address misconceptions. Recently, teachers attended a professional development session in which they were guided through DEAP by the instructional leadership team and engaged in the lesson in authentic ways that mirrored the student experience. Teams are now replicating this process in their own DEAP sessions. This work is occurring daily and is improving the quality of instruction.

This year, the school adjusted its culture team staffing model to include one Dean of Students, four School Culture Specialists, and one Board Certified Behavior Analyst. The school's culture team is high functioning, with strong systems and rapport, which has had a huge impact on and has allowed the school to be more proactive in its approach. The success of the school's culture team has contributed to markedly lower suspension numbers. Currently, 6.3% of students have been suspended compared to 11% of students who were suspended at the same point last school year.

The UAH Coordinator of Family and Community Relations continues to build strong and effective relationships with families. UAH hosted several events for families and community members this year: a Back to School barbecue for families, students, and community members that attracted more than 100 families and provided an important opportunity for staff members to connect with students and families; an immersive UP Academy Holland Curriculum Night; a report card and conference day that more than 370 families attended; a Middle School Fair for fifth graders to explore their options for middle school; and the Winter Performance to showcase students and their work in their arts classes, which had 200 families in attendance. These events, along with frequent communication from UAH staff and teachers, serve to strengthen the relationships with families as partners in their child's education.

Tim Nicolette, President of the UP Education Network, Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston, and Ventura Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Strategic Transformation, will be at the Board meeting on April 18, 2017 to answer your questions.


Level 5 Schools Quarterly Report, April 2017, for:

Download Word Document
Paul A. Dever Elementary School (content provided by Blueprint Schools Network)
Download Word Document
UP Academy Holland (content provided by UP Education Network)
Download Word Document
John Avery Parker Elementary School (content provided by Superintendent Pia Durkin)
Download Word Document
Morgan Full Service Community School (content provided by Receiver Stephen Zrike)

Last Updated: April 10, 2017
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