Thursday, February 26, 2015

Statewide Educator Survey about Time on Testing


On Monday, March 2,  members will receive a link to a survey about student and educator time spent on testing. It is essential that educators’ voices contribute significantly to any decisions made about statewide testing. We encourage all of our members to take 10 minutes to complete this survey.

This confidential survey was developed by the MTA Center for Education Policy & Practice in collaboration with MassPartners for Public Schools, an organization consisting of leaders of the major Massachusetts professional educator and parent organizations.

The survey’s purpose is to determine how much time teachers, paraprofessionals and school-based administrators spend on preparation for and administration of state, district, school and classroom assessments.

The key question is thisOf the mandatory 900 hours of instruction at the elementary level and the 990 hours at the secondary level, how much time is spent on testing and test preparation?  

Survey data will be used to inform a report to be shared with educators, parents and school, district and union leaders.  The report will include recommendations to the Board and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education relating to optimal use of instructional time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NEW BEDFORD HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR TO PARTICIPATE IN TRACK AND FIELD TOURNAMENT IN AUSTRALIA

Leslie Roda, a New Bedford High School senior, was recently selected to participate in the Down Under Sports Track & Field Meet in Brisbane, Australia, in July 2015.

Leslie will represent the United States and participate on the East Conference Team. She will compete in the javelin throw at the tournament.

"This is a great opportunity for me to not only compete but also travel," said Leslie. "I'm excited for this opportunity and proud to be a part of the East Conference track and field team."

As part of her trip to Australia, Leslie has already raised more than $2,000 from donations to sponsor her participation in the tournament, with a little over $3,000 left to fulfill sponsorship of the trip. Anyone who wishes to sponsor Leslie can visit www.downundersports.com<http://www.downundersports.com>; checks cannot be made out to competitors and must be written to Down Under Sports.

Leslie has competed in spring and winter track and field since her sophomore year. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the New Bedford High Marching Band, the NBHS Concert Band and the NBHS Jazz band. Leslie is also a battalion executive officer in the JROTC.

"Leslie is another in a long line of examples of a student from New Bedford High School that the community can be proud of,  representing the East Conference at an international sports tournament," said acting Headmaster Bernadette Coelho. "We wish her the very best in her endeavor and her experience."

About Down Under Sports:

Down Under Sports was founded in February 1989 based upon the dream of a New Zealander by the name of George O'Scanlon. George fell in love with athletics, especially American football (gridiron) as a young man growing up in his native country of New Zealand. His desire over the years has been to promote gridiron, not only to the people of New Zealand, but also to Australia where he lived for many years. That is why George started the Down Under Bowl which eventually led to the establishment of the Down Under Hoops Classic and the Down Under International Games. The Down Under Sports programs use the common language of sports to bridge the continents and provide a forum for athletes from around the globe to compete head-to-head in the sport they love. During the past twenty-six years, Down Under Sports has had the opportunity to share the land Down Under with tens of thousands of individuals from across the United States. Some prior standouts of the down Under Bowl include Jake "The Snake" Plummer (Denver Broncos), Ahman Green (Green Bay Packers), Rob Morris (Indianapolis Colts), Dave Dixon (Minnesota Vikings) and Jesse Williams (Seattle Seahawks).

The 2015 Down Under Sports program will include competition in wrestling, football, cross country, golf, track and field, basketball and volleyball. Down Under Sports' goal is to continue to provide athletes who excel in their sport the opportunity to experience the culture, beauty and grandeur of the land Down Under all within the framework of spirited and intense competition.

(from Down Under Sports/www.downundersports.com)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gates fights weakly for charter schools .... By Bruce Ditata

Being able to see behind the slick public relations curtain that is the charter school movement often means, “following the money,” when our senses are pounded by the charters drumbeat of offering “innovation” or “real education reform.”
Following the money might sound like a cliche, but the phrase resonates when the bullion is traced to its primary source — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Recently, intrepid CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria interviewed the billionaires on his Sunday morning magazine "GPS," eliciting Ms. Gates’ viewpoint on her favorite endowment — the American education system.
“When you look at education, one can't help but noticing that so much of your educational opportunities depends on what ZIP code you are in, because education is funded with local property taxes. And then you have this growing inequality."
"Is there anything to be done about it?” asked Zakaria.
“ It is why we focus on the U.S. education system, because to tackle inequality you've got to make sure all kids are educated. … In the U.S., I think there's some points of light ... one of the nice things about the charter school movement is taking public funding and using less dollars than are spent in the normal public school and educating kids … less expensive(ly) but getting a much higher quality of education. They are doing all kinds of innovations in the charter schools. And it gives us ideas and examples of what then can be taken to the public schools,” replied Melinda Gates.
In her response to Zacaria’s query about income inequality tied to an unfair formula for how public education is funded , Gates missed an opportunity to suggest real financial solutions — the Gates Foundations’ forte — to effect better achievement in children of poverty, English language learners and those with special needs. Instead, she took the scenic route through the miasma of charter schools talking points-as if she was reading a teleprompter.
The “charter school movement … (is about) educating kids … less expensively … getting (them) a much higher quality of education … (while) doing all kinds of innovations … (that) then can be taken to the public school.”
Plainly, the truth about charters is that their enrollment of students does not yield high school graduation rates that approach the rates of traditional public schools. Neither do the charter schools service minority, non- English speaking or special education students at the percentages that traditional public schools service these sub-groups.
Now a report in 2015 by Advocates for Children of New York Inc. reveals that discipline policies implemented by charters in that state suspend students summarily without a hearing or without differentiating among alleged offenses.
“One hundred seven of the charter school discipline policies … do not align infractions with specific disciplinary responses and allow for suspension or expulsion for any violation of the code of conduct,” reports this advocacy group.
“Such discipline policies … allow schools to impose the same punishment on a student who chews gum in class as on a student who uses a weapon to cause serious injury to a classmate ... allowing schools to impose vastly different punishments on two similarly situated students who engage in the same misconduct, increasing the likelihood of results that are biased and unfair, … which gave school staff unbridled discretion to impose suspensions of any length and even expulsion for infractions as minor as chewing gum, … and for infractions as vague as engaging in 'unacceptable behavior' and 'refusing accountability.'”
The hallmark of any school discipline code is its consistency and transparency, its ability to create a clearly defined hierarchy of offenses — from minor to major — with requisite consequences that, essentially, fit the nature of the crime. And any offense deemed by school administration to warrant a suspension requires a prior hearing, any student’s individual civil right.
Charters demonstrating a concept of discipline that ignores student civil rights gives further credence as to why charters do not represent innovation, progressive practices or education reform.
And just because Melinda Gates disagrees does not change that fact.

MCAS versus PARCC .... by Maria Angela Perrone-Martin

I read with interest the letter from Linda Noonan, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, on the replacement of the MCAS with PARCC. She did leave out some important pieces of information about their report. In the summary, the report stated: “For PARCC, our answer to each of the questions is a cautious and conditional 'Yes,'” and “Until PARCC releases results and interpretive materials, however, we will not know how useful that information is for parents, educators, and policy makers.” Please take a few minutes and read through the entire report, “Educating Students for Success” prepared for the MBAE by the Center for Assessment. 
What we do know is that our state, Massachusetts, ranked No. 1 in education in our country, as it has been since 2005; if Massachusetts were a country, its eighth-graders would rank second in the world in science; eighth-graders also came in sixth in mathematics; and we have a free and public education available for all our children. 
Neither did she mention that the PARRC is technology-driven, putting a greater burden on the taxpayer, or the data mining that is accompanying all this information on our children. 
I believe the most telling statement in the summary was, “That [the comparison between the two tests] is a relevant and important comparison because it informs stakeholders and the decision that the board will be making next fall when they choose the future direction of state assessment in Massachusetts.” The direction the “board” will take in choosing the future of state assessment? Now, the question should be, Who do you want making that decision — parents, the locally elected school committee or the “board”? 

Urge Legislators to Support Charter Accountability Bills



Our legislative campaign includes a set of bills that would improve charter school accountability in Massachusetts. Click here to read the bill summaries and then contact your legislators and tell them why they should support the bills. For inspiration, and a cautionary tale about what could happen with unchecked charter expansion, click here to watch Part 2 of the film "A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Public Schools."  (To view Part 1, clickhere.)



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Mandated Annual Testing Is NOT Closing Achievement Gaps



At the federal, state and local level, some argue that mandated annual testing in reading and math is a civil rights issue. They say that without this kind of test-based accountability, the needs of poor students of color will be neglected. But if the goal of all this state and federal testing is to close gaps in achievement, it's not working, according to the evidence presented in the "Schott 50-State Report on Public Education and Black Males." 

Jeff Bryant highlighted the report and addressed the civil rights issue in his"Memo to Civil Rights Activists: Testing Isn't Helping." He wrote, "After 12 years of test-driven education accountability aligned with a 'civil rights' cause, you would expect to see substantial improvements among student populations most in need of being better served by the system. That's not the conclusion of a new report released by The Schott Foundation for Public Education." Read Jeff's piece here


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Less Testing, More Learning Legislative Campaign Launched




 
I remember when those of us fighting the high-stakes MCAS tests were told by the powers that be that MCAS is here to stay so we might as well go home. (A former superintendent once asked a group of mothers fighting the graduation requirement if we didn't have anything better to do!) 


Now some of the same folks who tried to silence us then are telling us that MCAS isn't up to the task of preparing our children for college and career. They say we need the new and improved model: PARCC testing. 

That's the gist of a new report commissioned by Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, which has lined up behind PARCC. 

Of course others remain loyal to the MCAS, including the Pioneer Institute and former PI executive director and new Secretary of Education James Peyser. (We will be watching the PARCC v. MCAS conflict with interest.) 

What it boils down to, though, is this: Those folks say po-TAY-to, them folks say po-TAH-to. I say let's call the whole high-stakes testing travesty off!  

To that end, we are supporting a slate of bills calling for a moratorium on the high stakes use of standardized test scores in Massachusetts. Click here for summaries of the bills. Then click here to contact your legislators and urge them to support the bills! 

Meanwhile, our petition calling for a moratorium on the high-stakes use of standardized tests has surpassed 3,000 signatures. 

The petition is set up to notify state legislators "automagically" about how many people have signed and how many signers are voters in their legislative district. Another good reason to reach out, again, to all of your contacts and urge them to sign on. And be sure to check out our updated fact sheet on opting out of MCAS or PARCC tests.  



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Friday, February 13, 2015

MTA Thrilled by Decision Not to Advance Charters

Commissioner Mitchell Chester announced today that he will not be recommending that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approve the New Heights Charter School in Brockton or the regional Academy for the Whole Child Charter School, which was to be based in Fitchburg. This marks the first time in at least 15 years that no proposals for independently run charter schools will go to the BESE for a vote.

 

Both proposals were strongly opposed by MTA members in the affected communities and fellow educators throughout the state.

 

“We are thrilled by the commissioner’s decision not to advance the Commonwealth charter school applications in Brockton and Fitchburg,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “This was the right decision for the students and residents in these communities.”

 

In both Brockton and the region that would have been served by the Academy, teachers, school administrators, parents, local elected leaders and students came out in force against the charter applications.

 

They argued that the charter schools would offer nothing new and would drain resources from districts that have demonstrated success in serving the needs of their diverse student populations. They testified at public hearings and submitted reams of written testimony against the applications.

 

In Brockton, more than 200 residents packed a hearing on the application on December 8. Many spoke about the excellent education they received in Brockton and expressed concern that the charter would offer nothing new.

 

“It’s exciting that Brockton can continue the innovative work that we’ve been doing,” said Kim Gibson, president of the Brockton Education Association. “This community has a huge amount of pride in our district public schools, and that’s where we want the state to put its resources and support.”

 

Sean Walker, vice president of the Fitchburg Education Association, voiced a similar message.

 

“I see this as an affirmation of the good work of the Fitchburg Public Schools,” he said.

 

GIC Approves Health Plan Changes; MTA Opposition Will Continue

The Group Insurance Commission approved plan design changes on Friday, February 13, that will effectively shift costs for GIC health insurance coverage to subscribers beginning July 1. These changes will mean higher out-of-pocket expenses for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts workers, retirees and their families. At its next meeting on March 4, the GIC will set premium rates for each of the health plans for the coming fiscal year.
The MTA has vigorously opposed  and will continue to oppose  these plan design changes.
It is important to note that in the past month, MTA members have sent close to 80,000 e-mails to GIC commissioners urging them to reject plan design changes, lobby for a supplemental budget for fiscal 2015 and adopt a budget for fiscal 2016 that fully funds current benefits for subscribers. We want to thank everyone who took the time to send e-mails on this crucial matter.
Most state employees are enrolled in GIC health insurance coverage, as are municipal workers in 50 communities and regional school districts. Many other public workers and retirees are affected because their cities and towns — while not participating in the GIC — have the ability to shift costs to reflect GIC plan designs.

Friday’s vote resulted from budget shortfalls that are largely due to chronic underfunding by the state, as well as increased claims costs.

The most significant changes approved Friday are:

1. The Tufts Navigator PPO and Harvard Pilgrim Independence PPO plans will be eliminated and replaced with Tufts Navigator POS (Point of Service) and Harvard Pilgrim Independence POS plans. Much like an HMO, a POS plan requires a primary care physician and referrals for specialists. The POS plans also have an out-of-network option similar to PPO plans.

2. Examples of plan design changes:
·         Deductibles will increase for individuals from $250 to $300 per year and for families from $750 to $900 per year.
·         Co-pays for office visits to specialists will rise from $25/$35/$45 to $30/$60/$90.
·         Outpatient surgery co-pays will increase from $125/$150 per occurrence to $250 per occurrence.
·         Inpatient hospital admissions will increase from $250/$500/$750 to $275/$500/$1,500.

3. Pharmacy co-pays for active and Medicare-eligible subscribers will increase from $10/$25/$50 to $10/$30/$65 for 30-day retail prescriptions and from $20/$50/$110 to $25/$75/$165 for 90-day mail-order prescriptions.

For our higher education members: These plan design changes and rate increases affect all of you. As you know, premium percentage splits are set by the governor and the Legislature. We will stay abreast of the state budget process and fight increases to the employee share of premium splits.

For our GIC municipal members: We anticipate that the move from PPO plans to POS plans will require bargaining at the local level. Your local leaders and their MTA field representatives will be discussing this soon.

For our non-GIC municipal members: Under Massachusetts General Law chapter 32B, Sections 21-23, municipalities may change your health insurance plans to reflect GIC health coverage. GIC co-pay and deductible increases may be presented at the local level as changes to your current health plans. Your local leaders and their MTA field representatives will be discussing this soon.

Please stay tuned for future e-mails on this subject! The MTA will continue to oppose closing the GIC’s shortfall on the backs of educators, other public employees and retirees. We are actively involved in this situation and will be communicating with you as events unfold. Updates will be posted on the MTA website at www.massteacher.org/gic.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Criticism of DESE commissioner contains inaccuracies .... by Jacqueline Reis, DESE

I would like to correct inaccuracies in Greg Sullivan's op-ed, "Baker should exert his will on education” (Feb. 5).
The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core English language arts and math standards in 2010 after substantial teacher input.
The commonwealth has led a multi-state initiative to develop a next-generation assessment called PARCC to replace the 18-year-old English language arts and math MCAS tests. Massachusetts is the only state to spend two years test driving PARCC, and the state Board will decide whether to adopt PARCC in the fall with the input of educators and students and a comparison of PARCC to MCAS.
Mr. Sullivan’s description of the approval of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School is misleading. He quoted an initial Superior Court decision in a case that challenged the school’s charter, but at that point, no factual discovery had occurred.
After discovery, the Superior Court ruled in favor of Commissioner Mitchell Chester and the Board and stated that "there is no indication that Commissioner Chester made his decision based on his communications with Secretary Reville rather than on the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements."
It is disappointing to see a former inspector general use facts selectively.
Jacqueline Reis
Spokeswoman, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pulaski Elementary School needs a second street to enter and exit its property ... By Carol Strupczewski

The Pulaski Elementary School in New Bedford’s Far North End needs a second way of entering and exiting its property as it is the only elementary school in the city abutting one street.
 
The Pulaski Elementary School is a magnet school serving students from every ward in the city. This school has an enrollment this year, according to the DESE, of 660 students.  Add to that the teaching staff and support staff making approximately 700 or more people in that building on a daily basis during the school year.  This is the only elementary school in the entire city in which one enters and exits the school property from one street, Braley Road.  The school is not visible from the street as it is set back more than 200 feet from the road, has less than 300 feet between the entrance and exit, is abutted with the entrance to the annex parking lot located in the Pulaski Park, woods, wetlands, and backyards of homeowners.
 
Why the need for a second point of entry and exit?  SAFETY.
  
  1. A few times at the beginning of the school day, 911 calls were made, one in September of 2014.  Because of the gridlock on the Braley Road, the emergency vehicles (ambulance, cruiser, and fire apparatus) were waiting in traffic to enter the school grounds.  Cars are parked on both sides of the street by parents dropping off their child(ren).
  2. There have been at least 4 natural gas leaks on Braley Road, 2 at the entrance and 2 at the exit.  About 2 years ago when there was a gas leak on the street at the end of the school day. The principal made the 911 call reporting the leak and NStar and the fire engine from Station 5 responded.
  3. This is the only elementary school in the city that has one street in which people can enter and exit the school property.  Most of the elementary schools are surrounded by four streets, some are surrounded by three streets, and one or two are surrounded by two streets.  At all of these other elementary schools, if the school had to be evacuated, at least students, teachers, and staff would be able to exit the building onto another street surrounding the school.
  4. If Braley Road was closed to traffic because of an unexpected occurrence, how do you evacuate all the people from Pulaski School?
  5. Some people would say that people in the Pulaski School could walk through the park and exit onto the dead end Jordan Street as an alternative; however, what happens if there is snow on the ground or muddy conditions as a result of snow melting or rain storms?  How do you get students and adults with physical disabilities through the park? Just look at the two feet of snow we currently have on the ground from the blizzard.
 
The most logical place of creating a second way of safely evacuating people from the Pulaski School onto another street like every other elementary school is by paving a driveway from the Pulaski Park leading to another street abutting it.  More than a decade ago the School Department and the City worked hand-in-hand at putting in the annex parking lot on the City land of Pulaski Park.  This annex parking lot abuts Maddie Drive which exits onto Acushnet Avenue. 

Some of you might mention the cost factors of the driveway and about the wetlands being slightly impacted. My questions are: 
  1. What price tag do you put on a person’s life?  
  2. Are wetlands more important than a person’s life?
  3. Would you want members your family or friends going to or working at Pulaski School knowing there is only one road to enter and exit?

Safety should be first and foremost for everyone and should always trump cost.  I have addressed this at the School Committee meetings, neighborhood meetings, and have sent out emails to members of the City Council and School Committee members.  
 
Pulaski needs a second way of getting everyone on and off of the school grounds onto another public street.  It is now time to take action. 

Carol Strupczewski

Friday, February 6, 2015

Raise Your Voice to Help Roll Back Federal Testing Mandates!


You can help stop Congress from reauthorizing a No Child Left Behind law that locks in another decade of testing overkill. Email Senator Warren, Senator Markey and your U.S. Representative today. (Warren is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which is holding hearings on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind). 

Tell them to scale back standardized testing to once each in elementary, middle and high school and end punitive sanctions. With strong grassroots pressure, we can win. So write now!

Congress' decision will shape and limit what states and districts can do for years to come. Your voice is needed to put policy makers on a better track.

Washington, D.C. is acting quickly. Bills will move in both the House and Senate in the next few weeks. 
That leaves very little time. Send your email now! 


Your View: Baker should exert his will on education

The First Question This Teacher Asks Her Kindergarteners Every Morning Is Heartbreaking

"His teacher approached him and I expected some form of discipline would ensue. Instead, she gently put her arm around him and said something in a soft voice. I couldn’t make out exactly what it was, but it was clear she wasn’t scolding him — just showing some TLC. I felt mildly annoyed, to say the least. A child was acting rudely during my talk and there’d be no consequence for it?" - 

John Avery Parker School should not have been designated as a Level 5 School

The John Avery Parker School was designated as a Level 4 school in spring 2010. After implementing a three-year Turnaround Plan, the school needed to meet performance criteria set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to move out of Level 4 – a score of 75 on two MCAS-based indicators- Performance and Progress Index (PPI) for all students and for high needs students.
As shown below, the Parker School exceeded both of these scores.
2013
PPI
PPI High Needs
Level 4 exit threshold
75
75
Parker School
83
80


The PPI scores for the Parker School were similar to those (and higher than some) of the Level 4 schools that the Commissioner determined should exit Level 4.
Schools that exited Level 4

PPI
PPI High Needs
William Monroe Trotter Innovation School
Boston
100
100
Alfred J. Zanetti PK-8
Springfield
100
96
Union Hill Elementary
Worcester
99
99
William P. Connery Elementary
Lynn
94
98
Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary
Lowell
91
93
Gerena Elementary
Springfield
89
88
Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
Boston
86
88
Matthew J. Kuss Middle
Fall River
83
81
John Avery Parker Elementary School
New Bedford
83
80
Blackstone Innovation Elementary
Boston
82
82
Harbor Middle Pilot School
Boston
82
86
Homer Street Elementary
Springfield
82
82
E.J. Harrington Elementary
Lynn
77
78
John J Doran Elementary
Fall River               
75
74
John F. Kennedy Elementary
Boston
71
68

The Parker School’s PPI scores were higher than those that remained in Level 4 and the three other schools that were designated as Level 5.


PPI
PPI High Needs
John Avery Parker Elementary School
New Bedford
83
80
Remaining in Level 4
SPARK Academy
Formerly South Lawrence East Middle School)
Lawrence
77
72
Jeremiah E. Burke High School*
Boston
76
79
Brightwood Elementary*
Springfield
73
73
Elias Brookings Elementary*
Springfield
68
68
English High School
Boston
67
70
Chandler Elementary*
Worcester
64
64
Elihu Greenwood
Boston
63
65
Dearborn Middle School
Boston
59
59
William J. Dean
Holyoke
53
59
High School of Commerce
Springfield
51
51
White Street Elementary
Springfield
47
47
M. Marcus Kiley Middle
Springfield
37
40
John F. Kennedy Middle
Springfield
23
23
Community Day Arlington Elementary
Lawrence
54
52
South Lawrence East Middle School (8th Grade)
Lawrence
77
72
Chestnut Street Middle
Springfield
25
27
Designated as Level 5
Morgan Elementary
Holyoke
61
58
Paul Dever
Boston
58
58
Holland
Boston
52
52
*Exited Level 4 in 2014
The school had a higher 2013 school percentile rank among similar schools than many of the Level 4 schools, including some that exited Level 4 in 2013.


School Percentile
Commissioner’s Decision-2013
Elementary Schools



Alfred J. Zanetti PK-8
Springfield
63
Exited
Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary
Lowell
26
Exited
William Monroe Trotter Innovation School
Boston
21
Exited
John J Doran Elementary
Fall River
21
Exited
Union Hill Elementary
Worcester
19

E.J. Harrington Elementary
Lynn
18
Exited
William P. Connery Elementary
Lynn
15
Exited
John Avery Parker Elementary School
New Bedford
15
Level 5
Dearborn Middle School
Boston
10
Continued in Level 4
Blackstone Innovation Elementary
Boston
9
Exited
John F. Kennedy Elementary
Boston
9
Exited
Homer Street Elementary
Springfield
8
Exited
Morgan Elementary
Holyoke
8
Level 5
Chandler Elementary*
Worcester
8
Continued in Level 4
Elihu Greenwood
Boston
4
Continued in Level 4
Gerena Elementary
Springfield
4
Exited
Community Day Arlington Elementary
Lawrence
4
Continued in Level 4
Paul Dever
Boston
4
Level 5
Elias Brookings Elementary*
Springfield
3
Continued in Level 4
White Street Elementary
Springfield
3
Continued in Level 4
John P Holland
Boston
3
Level 5
Brightwood Elementary*
Springfield
1
Continued in Level 4
Elementary-Middle Schools



Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
Boston
28
Exited
High Schools



English High School
Boston
6
Continued in Level 4
Jeremiah E. Burke High School*
Boston
4
Continued in Level 4
High School of Commerce
Springfield
2
Continued in Level 4
William J. Dean
Holyoke
2
Continued in Level 4
Middle Schools



Matthew J. Kuss Middle
Fall River
39
Exited
Harbor Middle Pilot School
Boston
11
Exited
SPARK Academy
Formerly South Lawrence East Middle School)
Lawrence
8
Continued in Level 4
South Lawrence East Middle School (8th Grade)
Lawrence
8
Continued in Level 4
Chestnut Street Middle
Springfield
2
Continued in Level 4
M. Marcus Kiley Middle
Springfield
1
Continued in Level 4
John F. Kennedy Middle
Springfield
1
Continued in Level 4

While the Commissioner may consider additional factors in making a decision about Level 4 schools, the data do not appear to support a Level 5 designation. Based on the data, the Parker School is an outlier.

As noted in the NBEA appeal to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on May 9, 2013-
Interestingly, under the exit criteria currently used for Level 4 schools (authorized as part of Massachusetts’ flexibility waiver from the Elementary and Secondary School Act), Level 4 schools need to achieve a cumulative PPI of 75 or higher in the aggregate and for all subgroups of students by the end of the turnaround period.  As Parker’s aggregate PPI is 83 and high needs students PPI is 80, its performance was well above the threshold to exit Level 4 status.[1]  In fact, its PPI scores in both categories were higher than three schools that exited Level 4 to Level 3 and higher in one category and close in the other category than four schools that exited Level 4 to Level 3.  (Attachment G.)  Clearly, Parker students are achieving academic growth, moving towards proficiency.[2]  This has led many to question not only why Parker was designated a Level 5 school but why it did not become a Level 3 school.  Rather than the disruption and instability that comes with a Level 5 designation, the Commissioner could have extended Parker’s Level 4 status (as he did for many other schools) if he still had concerns, thus allowing the Parker teachers to continue on the path of improvement. 




[2] It is not expected that an underperforming school will hit all proficiency targets after three years.  Instead, the goal is to halve the proficiency gaps by 2017.  , Parker met the intermediary targets for narrowing the proficiency gaps in math and science and showed improvement in ELA.  It also met the growth target in math and was at the state median in ELA.  Parker teachers are on the right path and if had they the curriculum and coaching supports in ELA, it likely would have been enough to help their students improve more quickly in ELA.