|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, October 24, 2006|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
BOE Votes To Allow State To Step In Sooner To Help Low Performing Schools
MALDEN - The state will have the authority to intervene more quickly to assist the lowest performing schools under new regulations approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday.
The Board voted 8-to-1 to approve the new guidelines, which streamline and sharpen the processes the Department will use to determine the assistance schools need to improve student performance.
Under the existing system, detailed fact-finding reviews lengthen the amount of time the state must wait before taking action.
"These policy improvements will not solve the problem of underperforming schools by themselves," said Board of Education Chairman James Peyser. "What they will do, however, is create a more transparent system that enables more timely and effective action, based on the specific circumstances on the ground and the real needs of students."
Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll agreed.
"We can no longer afford to wait to help our lowest performing schools," he said. "These changes allow schools and districts to develop clearer plans of action to help turn student achievement around."
The new guidelines were approved following three months of public comment. The Commissioner and Chair of the Board initiated review of the regulations last December, out of concern that the existing system did not provide adequate assistance to low performing schools soon enough.
Under the new regulations:
Schools will no longer undergo panel reviews to determine underperformance. Instead, schools will be deemed "Commonwealth Priority Schools" based solely on MCAS and AYP results, allowing state intervention to begin six months sooner.
"Commonwealth Priority Schools" will be given 30 days to conduct a self-assessment, and then the state will conduct a fact-finding review.
The Board will request additional funding to support the assistance required by Commonwealth Priority and chronically underperforming schools.
The Board will seek legislative support for proposals to expand the authority of superintendents and principals responsible for underperforming schools and to expand the Board's authority to place the school under alternative management or governance if needed.