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Level 4 Schools Under Consideration for Level 5 Designation: An Update

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
October 11, 2013


At last month's special Board meeting on September 23, 2013, we shared information about my recent decisions concerning the accountability status of the state's first cohort of Level 4 (underperforming) schools that were designated in 2010. Each school's designation was based on student performance trends and evidence of school and district systems to sustain progress. This included information about Level 4 schools that are under consideration for designation as Level 5 (chronically underperforming): Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and the John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford.

This memo provides an update about our work with those four schools since our September meeting. This memo includes:

  • Information regarding the roundtable discussions that have been scheduled with the four schools;
  • 2013 data for the four schools;
  • Next steps for the Level 4 schools that I am considering for a Level 5 designation.

Information regarding the roundtable discussions

Roundtable conversations have been scheduled at each of the schools this month so that members of each school's community have an opportunity to share with me their thoughts about a potential Level 5 designation, and hear from me directly regarding each school's data and my thinking about the significant improvements that a Level 5 designation can provide for each school. The schedule of roundtable conversations is below. Two of the four roundtables already have taken place and a third will have taken place by the date of our meeting on October 22. I will provide an update during our meeting.

  • Dever Elementary School: Wednesday, October 9, 6:00-8:00PM (325 Mt. Vernon Street, Dorchester, MA 02125)
  • Holland Elementary School: Thursday, October 10, 6:30-8:30PM (85 Olney Street, Dorchester, MA 02121)
  • Morgan Full Service Community School: Tuesday, October 15, 4:30-6:30PM (596 South Bridge Street, Holyoke, MA 01040)
  • Parker Elementary School: Thursday, October 24, 4:00-6:00PM (705 County Street, New Bedford, MA 02740)

Our regulations state that school, school district, and municipal officials, including the school committee, as well as the local teachers' union or association president or designee, a representative of the school's parent organization, and family members of students at the school, shall have an opportunity to meet with the commissioner (or commissioner's designee) before the commissioner places a school in Level 5 (603 CMR 2.06 (2)(b)). We are working with each district to hold the roundtable conversations at the schools in order to maximize participation by members of the school community. The roundtable format will allow me to converse directly with the parties identified in the regulations; allow school stakeholders to hear from me directly; and make the conversation transparent to school community members who may wish to observe the discussion.

For each school, we are working with the respective districts to invite the following parties to join me in the roundtable discussion:

  1. School: Principal or designee
  2. School district: Superintendent or designee
  3. Municipal officials: Mayor or designee; school committee chair if not the mayor; school committee vice chair or other member designated by the chair if the mayor is the chair (total two seats for municipal officials)
  4. Teachers' union: Teachers' union president or designee
  5. Teacher from the school: One teacher selected by the teachers in the school
  6. Staff member from the school: One staff member selected by the principal of the school
  7. Representative of the school's parent organization: PTO president or designee
  8. Family members of students at the school: Three family members of students at the school. The school principal will determine the process for selecting among volunteers for these seats.

All invited roundtable participants are being encouraged to solicit input from their constituents in advance of the meeting to incorporate into their remarks. DESE is working with each district to ensure that all members of the school community are aware of the opportunity to observe the roundtable discussion. Members of the school community are also being encouraged to submit a written statement and/or questions for my consideration in advance of each meeting. (Submissions are being sent to

2013 Data for the Four Schools

At our September meeting, Board members expressed interest in the performance data for the four schools I intend to designate Level 5. Please see Attachment 1 for proficiency data for each school. Please see Attachments 2-5 for data profile documents for Dever, Holland, Morgan, and Parker that include CPI (Composite Performance Index), percent Warning/Failing, and student growth information; accountability data; and other indicators for each school.

Next Steps for the Four Schools

I am looking forward to the roundtable discussions at each of the schools, so I am able to hear from and speak with members of each school community directly. I will brief the Board on October 22 about the three roundtables that will have occurred by that date. Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and other members of our staff will be at the October 22 meeting to respond to your questions.

Shortly following the roundtable discussions, I will plan to inform each superintendent about the designation for each school. As described in last month's Board meeting, for each school that I designate Level 5, I will then decide who will work with me to lead the turnaround effort; convene a Local Stakeholder Group to provide recommendations to me about the contents of the school's turnaround plan; and begin to write the turnaround plan. I will provide more detail about these steps in future updates.


Last Updated: October 18, 2013
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