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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
September 16, 2016


2016 District and School Accountability Determinations and Level 5 Updates

2016 District and School Accountability Determinations

At the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's special meeting on September 26, 2016, I will present an overview of 2016 district and school accountability determinations, including announcing new Level 4 (underperforming) schools and decisions made on schools and districts that are exiting Level 4 status. These determinations, which will be made public that evening, are based in part on the 2016 MCAS and PARCC results for districts and schools.

As a reminder, our Massachusetts accountability system classifies each district and school into one of five levels, with schools making sufficient progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps classified into Level 1 and the lowest performing schools classified into Levels 4 and 5. In general, districts are classified into a level based on the level of their lowest performing school. Per Board policy, any school or district that administered PARCC in grades 3-8 in spring 2016 and met the 95% participation requirement has been "held harmless" for purposes of the accountability system, meaning the school or district level could improve or stay the same as compared to 2015, but could not decline.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and other staff will join me in presenting the 2016 district and school accountability determinations.

Level 5 Schools: Back-to-School Update

Two of the current Level 5 schools have new principals for the 2016-2017 school year. At Dever School in Boston, Todd Fishburn brings a wealth of leadership experience from his roles as a school principal and district leader in the Seaford School District in Delaware. At UP Academy Holland in Boston, Hillary Casson has transitioned from her role as founding Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the school to principal. Ms. Casson has been preparing for a leadership position all last school year as a Principal-in-Residence at UP Academy Holland.

Each of the four Level 5 schools began the 2016-2017 school year by September 2. The schools held various back-to-school events to welcome and orient students and families. For example, the Morgan School in New Bedford held a Meet the Teacher Afternoon the day before school started for grades 1-8 to create a welcoming environment and encourage parents/guardians to meet teachers and students to see their new classrooms, as well as an Open House for pre-K and Kindergarten families.

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 years one and two of Level 5 status, and focused professional development aligned to student-level data and 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 2016-2017 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.

I look forward to updating the Board, the districts, and other stakeholders on the Level 5 schools' progress through the current school year via the quarterly reports we will issue in October 2016 and January, April, and June 2017.

Level 5 Districts: Back-to-School Update

Each of the three Level 5 districts - Lawrence, Holyoke, and Southbridge - began the 2016-2017 school year by August 30, and convocation ceremonies were held in each district to kick off the start of the school year. Earlier in the summer, Lawrence Public Schools Receiver Jeff Riley gathered 90 school and district leaders for an Instructional Leadership Institute while teachers participated in professional development focused on improving team structures and strengthening curriculum and instruction. Holyoke Public Schools Receiver Stephen Zrike brought together all new and returning teachers for two district-wide professional development days which focused on standards-based content planning in all academic areas. In addition to the district-led professional development, all schools in Holyoke implemented an additional two to four pre-service school-based professional development days as outlined in their individual school-based operational plans. Finally, Southbridge Public Schools Receiver Jessica Huizenga led three separate week-long professional development sessions for school leaders, new teachers, and returning staff and teachers. As part of the session for teachers, teams worked together to map and develop new math curriculum and the district's first set of common assessments in grades one through five.

School and District Receiver Presentations to the Board in 2016-17

I have asked each school and district receiver to attend at least one Board meeting during this school year to report to the Board and respond to questions.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Ventura Rodriguez will also be at the September Board meeting to answer your questions.

Last Updated: September 19, 2016
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