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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
September 11, 2015


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. In June 2015, I presented to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education the FY2015 Quarter 4 progress reports and the annual evaluations on the four schools. The appointed receivers for the first three schools, and the superintendent in New Bedford for the fourth, have been hard at work implementing the school turnaround plans as they move into the second year of Level 5 status.

In October I will present the FY2016 Quarter 1 progress reports to the Board on the four schools and updates from each receiver and Superintendent Durkin on implementation of the school turnaround plans, focusing on activities from July-September 2015. Future quarterly reports for FY2016 will be presented in January 2016, April 2016 and June 2016.

Leadership, Staffing and Enrollment Update

Two of the Level 5 schools have new principals for the 2015-2016 school year. At Parker, Deb Letendre, the seasoned principal from the 2014-2015 school year, has transitioned to the role of Turnaround Manager for New Bedford Public Schools, overseeing turnaround efforts in the district's Level 4 and 5 schools. Ms. Letendre's experience as a turnaround leader will provide strong support and guidance to Parker's incoming principal, Lynn Dessert. Ms. Dessert recently served as interim principal in a New Bedford school and has held various district leadership roles. At Dever, Laura Miceli has assumed the role of principal; she brings a wealth of district and school leadership experience to Dever, most recently as principal of the Edward Everett Elementary School in Boston.

In Holyoke, Dr. Steven Zrike will serve as receiver for Morgan in addition to his role as receiver for the Holyoke Public Schools. Alyson Lingsch continues to serve as principal of the school.

Below is a chart detailing estimated SY 2015-2016 staffing and student enrollment data as of the date of this communication for each Level 5 school. These figures are reported as estimates as enrollment stabilizes at each school over the first few weeks of the school year.

School# of Full Time Staff SY 15-16# of Full Time Staff Returning from SY 14-15Student Enrollment SY 15-16# of New Students enrolled in SY 15-16 (inc. PreK)% of Eligible Students Returning from SY 14-15
UP Academy Holland887180418695%

Back-to-School Update

Each of the four Level 5 schools began the 2015-2016 school year by September 2nd. Each school held various back-to-school events to welcome and orient students and families, as well as meetings for the English Language Learner and Students with Disabilities Parent Advisory Councils and School Site Councils to engage these key stakeholders in 2015-2016 school planning efforts.

All of the Level 5 schools held up to three weeks of professional development for staff over the summer, including orientation for new teachers, reflection on successes and challenges in year one of Level 5 status, and focused professional development aligned to each school's turnaround plan. The Level 5 school leadership teams also spent time this summer working with staff from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) on setting new interim benchmarks for each priority area in their turnaround plans for the 2015-2016 school year. DESE will continue to provide individualized technical assistance and oversight to the Level 5 schools throughout the year, in support of students' learning and effective implementation of the turnaround plans.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston will be at the September Board meeting to answer your questions. We look forward to updating the Board, the districts, and other stakeholders on the schools' progress through the current school year via the quarterly reports we will issue in October 2015 and January, April, and June 2016.

Last Updated: September 17, 2015
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