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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on Level 5 Schools and Districts

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
January 13, 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 second 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 October-December 2016. Future quarterly reports for FY2017 will be presented in April 2017 and June 2017.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston will join us at the January 24 meeting to answer your questions.

Parker Update

New Bedford Superintendent Pia Durkin will be at the January meeting to provide an update on the efforts at John Avery Parker Elementary School. Dr. Durkin has been superintendent since 2013, the year that Parker was designated as a Level 5 school. Principal Lynn Dessert, who previously held other positions in the district, is in her second year at the school.

Dr. Durkin and her central office team have customized targeted supports for Parker to address its unique challenges and leverage the autonomies available to the school. Dr. Durkin visits the school multiple times each week to reflect on data and work on staff development with Principal Dessert. Dr. Durkin uses Parker to incubate new ideas and structures for adaptation in other schools across the district to improve practice and accelerate progress. Additionally, liaisons from the district's Office of Instruction work with the school as needed in specific areas. This year the school leveraged its career ladder to designate three teachers as lead teachers. In this new role, the lead teachers provide supports to other teachers as well as interventions directly to students who are furthest behind.

The school periodically refines its daily schedule to provide strong core instruction and differentiated supports for students. Dr. Durkin recently submitted a request to amend the school's turnaround plan to extend the school year by seven days in order to increase instructional time for all students. The school also continues to refine its approaches to family engagement, and has seen a noticeable increase in the number of parents who attend events and volunteer for the school. The Quarter 2 report (in your packet) provides additional detail on the work of the school this fall. Dr. Durkin looks forward to providing more details on the work at Parker on January 24.

Updates from December 2016 Board Meeting

Paul A. Dever Interim Assessment Results

Per the request of the Board, I provided a summary of the Dever's first quarter interim assessment results at the November 2016 meeting. Attached to this memo is an overview of Dever students' performance on the 2016 second-quarter interim assessment, administered in December. Overall, the 2016 second quarter assessment shows that more students mastered the quarter two standards in 2016 than they did in 2015.

As a reminder, Dever administers four interim assessments every year to monitor student progress and inform classroom instruction. These quarterly assessments are designed and administered by the Achievement Network (ANet), a Boston-based non-profit that works with schools across Massachusetts and the country. Each interim assessment tests a particular set of standards taught by teachers during the corresponding quarter. For example, Dever's 2016 second-quarter interim assessment results correspond to how well students mastered the standards that were taught at the school in late October, November, and December of 2016. The quarterly interim assessments are, by design, not cumulative, meaning that standards that are taught and assessed on one interim assessment will not necessarily appear on subsequent exams.

Research Supporting Holyoke's High School Redesign

As a follow-up to Dr. Zrike's presentation at the December Board meeting on the Holyoke Public Schools (HPS), we have additional information on the 9th Grade On-Track research from the University of Chicago that the district is using to inform its work. Please see the research summary released in April 2014 by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (UChicago CCSR). HPS is using this research as a basis for many of the 9th grade efforts in the district. The University of Chicago's On-Track website, has additional useful resources.


Level 5 Schools Quarterly Report, December 2016, 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)

2016 Accountability Profile - John Avery Parker Elementary School
Paul A. Dever - December 2016 ANet Results

Last Updated: January 23, 2017
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