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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

State Upgrades 40 Percent of Schools Named Underperforming in 2010 as Schools Meet their Three-Year Turnaround Goals

MALDEN - The Patrick Administration and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today announced that 14 out of 34 schools designated as "underperforming" or Level 4 in 2010 will exit that status after meeting their three-year turnaround goals.

The state's landmark Achievement Gap Act of 2010 provided the necessary framework and tools in the state's most persistently low performing schools to support the accelerated improvement of student achievement and a high-functioning learning environment for students within three years. Level 4 schools are both low performing on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) over a four-year period and not showing signs of substantial improvement over that time. Schools designated as Level 4 must develop a turnaround plan for the school and are eligible to receive federal School Redesign Grant funds.

The 14 schools named underperforming in 2010 that are now exiting Level 4 have successfully met their individual measurable, annual goals over the past three years by increasing student achievement and showing significant progress in implementing conditions at the school and district level for continuing to accelerate improvement.

"Investing time, money and new ideas in education works, and is probably the wisest investment state government can make," said Governor Patrick. "The Achievement Gap Act, our consistently strong budget support, and most especially the renewed commitment of Massachusetts teachers are making a difference. We need to keep that going."

"The results released today are a tribute to the incredible amount of hard work put in by teachers and school staff across the Commonwealth," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "Schools that once were on life support are now thriving. But even as we celebrate we know there are more schools that need our support and we pledge to be there to help lift them up."

The Governor and state education officials will visit Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Boston today to celebrate the school's exit from Level 4.

"We have made tremendous progress in our schools in recent years," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "We know how to turn schools around. Orchard Gardens is just one example. Schools that need additional help are our top priority. Even though we lead the nation in urban education we recognize there is always more work to do."

The Administration also announced that 10th grade students once again achieved record high performance in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science and technology/engineering (STE), according to the 2013 statewide results of the MCAS exams. This year, 91 percent of students at grade 10 scored Proficient or higher in ELA, 80 percent in mathematics, and 71 percent in STE.

Despite the gains at grade 10, though, 40 percent of students who graduate from public high school in Massachusetts and enroll in one of the Commonwealth's postsecondary campuses are placed in developmental, non-credit bearing coursework.

"While I am pleased to see more than a decade of continuous improvement at grade 10, it's clear that MCAS is not providing us with the signal or rigor we need to tell us whether students are on track and ready for college-level work," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "To remedy this, schools are implementing new college and career ready standards and we are developing a next-generation assessment system to assess a broader range of the skills we value and employers tell us are necessary to prepare students for success after high school."

At grades 3-8, results were up in mathematics since last year, except grade 6 where they were unchanged. Results in ELA were mixed. The percent of students scoring Proficient or higher in mathematics increased between one and six percentage points since 2012 in all grades except 6, and performance is up between three and seven percentage points across all grades from five years ago. Students made ELA gains at grade 5 and 6, but saw four percentage point declines at grades 3 and 4. Student performance in ELA at grades 3 and 4 over the past five years is flat.

Other statewide results include:

  • Eighty-eight (88) percent of 10th graders last year (class of 2015) met the state's minimum testing requirements to earn a high school diploma after their first attempt, by scoring Needs Improvement or higher in ELA, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering. That compares to 86 percent of students who met the requirement after their first attempt last year (class of 2014), 83 percent in 2009 (class of 2011), and 68 percent ten years ago when the graduation requirement first took effect (class of 2003).
  • Between 2007 and 2013, the achievement gap in ELA in terms of the percentage of students scoring Proficient or higher for white students and African American/black students narrowed at grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. The gap between white students and Hispanic or Latino students narrowed at all grades except grade 3, where it was unchanged. The greatest narrowing of the gap in ELA for African American/black students and Hispanic or Latino students occurred at grade 10, where it narrowed by 19 percentage points and 17 percentage points, respectively.
  • In mathematics between 2007 and 2013, the achievement gap between white students and African American/black students and between white students and Hispanic or Latino students narrowed at all grades (3-8 and 10). Among African American/black students, the greatest narrowing of the gap occurred at grades 6 and 8, where it narrowed by five percentage points. For Hispanic or Latino students, the greatest narrowing of the gap occurred at grade 3, where it narrowed by six percentage points.

Accountability Designations for the 2010 Level 4 Schools:

Of the remaining third-year turnaround schools that are not exiting, 15 will remain in Level 4 after showing some but not sufficient improvement, one school closed, and four schools are under consideration for a "chronically underperforming" or Level 5 designation that would trigger state receivership. The four schools facing state receivership are Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston, Morgan K-8 School in Holyoke, and Parker Elementary School in New Bedford. Under Level 5, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education is responsible for creating a turnaround plan for the school and holding the superintendent or a new leader, called a receiver, responsible for operating the school and implementing the plan.

Exit Level 4: Trotter Elementary School (Level 1), Orchard Gardens K-8 School (Level 1), Harbor Middle School (Level 3), Blackstone Elementary School (Level 3), and John F. Kennedy Elementary School (Level 3) in Boston; Kuss Middle School (Level 1) and Doran K-8 School (Level 2) in Fall River; Murkland Elementary School (Level 1) in Lowell; Connery Elementary School (Level 3) and Harrington Elementary School (Level 3) in Lynn; Zanetti K-8 School (Level 1), Gerena Elementary School (Level 3), and Homer Elementary School (Level 3) in Springfield, and Union Hill Elementary School (Level 3) in Worcester.

Remain in Level 4: Dearborn Elementary School, Burke High School, The English High, and Greenwood School in Boston; Dean Vocational Technical High School in Holyoke; South Lawrence East Middle School and Arlington Elementary School (grades 2-4) in Lawrence; Brookings Elementary School, Brightwood Elementary School, High School of Commerce, White Street Elementary School, Kiley Middle School, Chestnut Street Middle School, and John F. Kennedy Middle School in Springfield; and Chandler Elementary School in Worcester.

Closed: Lord Middle School in Fall River.

Move to Level 5 under consideration: Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston; Morgan K-8 School in Holyoke; and Parker Elementary School in New Bedford.

For schools exiting Level 4, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will immediately begin an exit assurances approval process with the 14 schools and their districts to ensure that the conditions necessary for sustained improvement remain in place.

Schools remaining in Level 4 will require support from their district leadership teams to assess current needs and determine what specific changes and enhancements must be made to dramatically increase the impact of turnaround efforts. This may involve modifying and strengthening existing turnaround plans, creating ambitious new goals under existing plans, or developing new plans with different strategies.

Before making a Level 5 designation, state regulations indicate that the commissioner must hear from members of the school community, including school, district, and municipal officials; members of the school committee; representatives from the local teachers' union; a representative from the school's parent organization; and family members of students at the school. Commissioner Chester will visit the communities of the schools under consideration for Level 5 designation over the next month to hold meetings prior to making a final determination.

The Patrick Administration will release district and school results for the 2013 MCAS tests on September 20, 2013. For more information on the MCAS exams or to view the full statewide report, go to

Last Updated: September 18, 2013
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