|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, January 8, 2003|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Massachusetts’ Accountability System Approved Early, Will Be Used As Model Nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Massachusetts’ system of school and district accountability is one of the first in the nation to be approved under No Child Left Behind, and will be held up as a model nationally for other states to consider when developing their own, federal education officials announced on Wednesday.
This announcement comes one year to the day after the signing of NCLB, the sweeping federal education reform law signed by President Bush last January.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney congratulated state officials on developing a system worthy of early national recognition.
“This shows that Massachusetts is truly leading the nation in accountability and high standards in our classrooms,” he said. “This is a great tribute to the lawmakers who made Education Reform a top priority, and students, educators and parents should also be commended for this tremendous accomplishment.”
Commissioner Driscoll, who flew to Washington to stand with President Bush during Wednesday’s ceremony, agreed.
“From the very beginning, our approach to accountability has been to pay attention to the progress of every single student, to ensure that we can get everyone to at least a certain level,” he said. “That’s what No Child Left Behind is all about, and I am proud to say that is why we have more students reaching higher levels in Massachusetts than ever before.”
All states are required to have their accountability systems approved by the federal government by the end of the 2002-2003 school year. The systems are used to gauge annually the progress of schools toward getting all students to reach proficiency in English Language Arts and mathematics by 2014, the principal goal of NCLB.
Massachusetts is one of just a handful of states asked to submit their plans early. State education officials have been working with federal officials since the passage of the law to implement any changes to the school accountability system adopted by Massachusetts in 1999 needed to secure the federal approval.
“By having our plan accepted so soon, Massachusetts is in a key position to play a leadership role in the further reform of public education nationally,” Commissioner Driscoll said. “I am very pleased with this outcome, and grateful to my staff for the countless hours they have put in to make this happen, particularly Juliane Dow, our Associate Commissioner for Accountability and Targeted Assistance.”
The state’s system uses a proficiency index to determine if schools are making “Adequate Yearly Progress” toward the ultimate goal of all students reaching proficient by 2014. Parents with children at schools that persistently fail to make AYP can transfer their children to other schools or receive free supplemental services. Schools that fail to make AYP for several years can face serious sanctions, including state takeover.
In November Massachusetts issued its second round of school performance and improvement ratings and AYP determinations. The state also assigned schools with terms to better define their standing such “critically low” or “very high.” In all, the ratings showed that during the 2001-2002 rating cycle, every high school in the state improved, with 99 percent scoring either at or above its improvement target in English and 98 percent doing so in mathematics.
During the next rating cycle, to comply with NCLB, the state will also report performance for each subgroup of students in a school or district, including low-income, limited English proficient and disabled students.
For more information on the state’s accountability system, look online at www.doe.mass.edu/sda/.