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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 13, 2000
Contact:Darrell S. Pressley, 781-338-3126

State Declares Two Out of Eight Urban Middle Schools as Under-Performing

Malden - After an extensive review of eight urban middle schools this spring, as part of the first round of School Panel Reviews, Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll announced today that two of those schools have been declared under-performing, and six have not.

Commissioner Driscoll said, "Based on the review panel's findings, and in accordance with our Regulations on Under-Performing Schools and Districts, I have declared two schools, the Arlington School in Lawrence and the John Lynch Middle School in Holyoke, to be under-performing."

Commissioner Driscoll declared the Dearborn School in Boston and the John Kennedy Middle School in Springfield as not Under-Performing.

Also, Commissioner Driscoll has decided to reserve, for three months, judgment about the Matthew Kuss Middle School in Fall River, the Henry Robinson School in Lowell, Marshal Middle School in Lynn, and Roosevelt Jr. High School in New Bedford.

The eight schools selected for review this spring posted extremely high rates of failing student performance on 1998 and 1999 MCAS tests, and had lower overall scaled scores in 1999 than in 1998. Panel reviews were conducted to gather and analyze information on the schools' efforts, plans and capacity to implement sound strategies to improve student performance at their respective schools.

Commissioner Driscoll said, "At both the Lynch Middle School and the Arlington School, the overall scores in 1999 were even lower than in 1998. These results indicate that a substantial majority of students attending those schools are not attaining minimum levels of literacy and mathematical competency by the end of the eighth grade. This is cause for very serious concern."

Commissioner Driscoll added, "After the review process this spring, we wanted to move in quickly to get the help to those schools, to help improve student achievement as soon as possible. The goal behind the panel review process is not to punish schools, but to identify what successful plans and procedures the schools were using to help their students, and what assistance they needed in specific areas to boost student achievement."

"It is my responsibility, as Commissioner of Education, to ensure that immediate, appropriate actions are taken to promote and support improved student performance at these schools. A sound plan to guide school and district improvement efforts must be established, and the conditions necessary for successful implementation of those plans must be put in place."

Commissioner Driscoll said, "The four schools in which I have reserved judgment have 90 days in which to address issues that we have raised concerning either their school improvement plans or the conditions for implementation. With respect to the remaining two schools, we are satisfied that both a sound plan and the necessary conditions are in place to bring about timely improvements."

The next steps in the Review Panel Process are funding and support from the Department of Education for all eight schools. A $25,000 school improvement assistance grant for use this summer has been provided to each of the eight schools. The grant will be used for immediate-term planning, training, and student support efforts.

Fact finding teams will be appointed to conduct in-depth, diagnostic reviews at the Arlington School and the Lynch Middle School, which have been declared under-performing. The fact finding teams will conduct their on-site reviews at the beginning of the new school year in September. The school and district leaders of the two schools now have six months to develop and present an improvement plan for approval by the state Board of Education.

The Department of Education will continue working towards school and district accountability by identifying additional schools for panel review in the 2000-2001 school year. The School and District Accountability System was adopted by Massachusetts Board of Education in September 1999. The accountability system calls for the Commissioner to identify and refer for review schools that demonstrated the lowest levels of performance on 1998 MCAS tests and that did not demonstrate improved performance on the 1999 MCAS.

For more information visit the School and District Accountability System website.

Last Updated: June 13, 2000
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