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For Immediate Release
Monday, May 19, 2008
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

Gov. Patrick Swears In Mitchell Chester as Commissioner of Education

Former Ohio Deputy Known For His Work in Accountability and Assessment

BOSTON - Pledging to do his part to take the Massachusetts public schools from "good to great," Mitchell Dan Chester was sworn in by Gov. Patrick on Monday as the Commonwealth's 23rd Commissioner of Education.

Chester most recently served as the Deputy for the Ohio Public Schools and is recognized nationally for his expertise in education policy, assessment, accountability, curriculum and instruction.

"I am confident that Mitchell Chester will be an exceptional leader for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education," said Gov. Patrick. "He offers a diversity of experience and commitment to children that uniquely positions him to move Massachusetts forward. I look forward to working in partnership with him in the years ahead."

Chester was sworn in on his first official day as Commissioner at the Joseph J. Hurley School in Boston's South End, flanked by his family and nearly 50 educators, legislators, key stakeholders and business leaders from across the state.

"The Massachusetts public schools are the envy of educators across the nation because of the unprecedented commitment to success our educators, legislators, business leaders and parents made nearly 15 years ago," he said. "While we outscore other states on most national assessments, we still have a long way to go to close our achievement gaps, reduce our dropout rates, and prepare all of our students for college and careers in the 21st century. This is going to be challenging, but exciting work, and I can't wait to get started."

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously in January to appoint Chester to succeed former Commissioner David Driscoll, who retired last August.

"Mitchell Chester was the Board's unanimous choice because he is superbly and uniquely qualified, by virtue of his experience and perspective, to lead the next, ambitious stage of school reform in Massachusetts," said Board Chairman and incoming Secretary of Education Paul Reville. "We are delighted he to have him at the helm and excited to forge ahead."

Education Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Robert Antonioni and Rep. Patricia Haddad said they are both eager to begin working with Chester.

"I welcome Commissioner Chester to the state of Massachusetts," said Sen. Antonioni. "He brings tremendous credentials and will undoubtedly be a strong advocate for public education. I look forward to working with him in the very near future."

"I am excited that our new Commissioner brings a fresh perspective to such an important role," said Rep. Haddad. "While he certainly has his work cut out for him, I am very much looking forward to working with Dr. Chester as we continue to push our schools and students to the top."

Chester, 56, is a Connecticut native and began his career as an elementary school classroom teacher. In 1988 he was named a senior assessment associate for the Connecticut Department of Education, and in 1993 was made Education Bureau Chief of the state's Bureau of Curriculum and Instructional Programs. He served as Executive Director of Accountability and Assessment for the Philadelphia Public Schools from 1997 to 2001.

He moved to Ohio in 2001 to take on the role of Assistant and later Associate State Superintendent for Policy and Accountability. He remained in this role until 2006, when he was promoted to Senior Associate State Superintendent for the Ohio Public Schools. In this role he worked closely with Ohio State Superintendent Susan Zelman, and was responsible for education policy development, the state's accountability systems, alignment of federal and state policy and strategic planning for the agency.

Chester's wife, Angela, and 10-year-old son, Nicholas, are finishing out the school year in Ohio and will join him in Massachusetts in late June.

Last Updated: May 19, 2008
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