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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

School and District Accountability and Assistance - Level 3 Districts

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
September 10, 2010


An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap and the accompanying regulations adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) to identify Level 3 districts through the following criteria:

A school shall be placed in Level 3 of the framework for district accountability and assistance if it scores in the lowest 20 percent statewide of schools serving common grade levels pursuant to 603 CMR 2.05(2)(a). A district shall be placed in Level 3 of the framework for district accountability and assistance if it has a school that has been placed in Level 3. (603 CMR 2.04 (2))

Level 4 ("underperforming") schools are chosen from within the list of Level 3 schools.

September 2010 will mark the identification of the first Level 3 schools. DESE and district intervention in these schools will serve as a strategy of prevention. Level 3 schools are identified based on performance using the Composite Performance Index (CPI) and the percentage of students scoring Warning/Failing on the MCAS ELA and mathematics tests over the past four years (for a more detailed description of the methodology, see Methodology for Identifying Level 3 Schools, Attachment 1). In 2011, Level 3 school designations will take into account improvement trends (change in CPI and student growth percentile).

The state designation of a Level 3 district does not eliminate the district's responsibilities under federal regulations related to Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status. Because Level 3 district designations are made independent of federal AYP determinations, each Level 3 district will need to reference a document specifically prepared to help districts identify their responsibilities under state and federal law.

Additional requirements for Level 3 districts are outlined in the Framework for District Accountability and Assistance Download Word Document . Level 3 districts are required to conduct a self-assessment process aligned with the District Standards and Indicators and Conditions for School Effectiveness. The self-assessment process is intended to inform the district's and schools' strategies for improvement and will incorporate "Corrective Actions" or "Restructuring processes" being planned in response to federal AYP determinations, as necessary.

The 2010-2011 school year represents a transition for DESE implementation of the self-assessment requirements under the new state regulations. During this transition, DESE will have a greater focus on targeted assistance rather than accountability for Level 3 districts. Level 3 districts are given priority for targeted assistance through the DESE's six regional District and School Assistance Centers (DSACs). The District and School Assistance Center staff will contact each Level 3 district to provide further guidance about conducting self assessments and accessing technical assistance and support.

The new state accountability and assistance system has been designed to help prioritize assistance for those districts and schools requiring the most intervention. The introduction of Level 3 schools and districts presents an opportunity for more resources and supports to be invested in the students most at risk of falling behind.

A comprehensive accountability structure for Level 3 districts and schools will be in place in the 2011-2012 school year to ensure effective district intervention in their Level 3 schools.

Last Updated: February 15, 2018
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