Five schools celebrate exit from ‘turnaround’ status
BOSTON – An effort by the Boston Public Schools to turn around some of the lowest-performing schools in the state has led to some of the strongest academic gains in Massachusetts, according to new data released today by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. As of today, five BPS schools have successfully completed their Turnaround work and are expected to exit Level 4 status.
In these schools the number of students reaching proficiency in Math jumped 237 percent in Math and 97 percent in English Language Arts MCAS since BPS launched the Turnaround program.
“When we launched this effort three years ago many people told us these schools might never succeed,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who pushed for education reform legislation in 2010 that gave BPS the flexibility and resources to turn the lowest-performing schools around. “Look at these classrooms today. We have great teachers pushing students to be their very best. We have longer school days and stronger partnerships with families. This type of transformation is what Boston is all about.”
The five schools the state has announced are expected to move out of Turnaround status are:
- Orchard Gardens K-8 in Roxbury (moves to Level 1)
Proficiency rates on English Language Arts rose from 13 percent to 34 percent for all students. For Hispanic/Latino students these rates more than tripled, and for African American students, more than doubled
In 2009, just 25 students had reached proficient levels on mathematics MCAS. Today, nearly 200 students have – eight times as many
The percent of students with disabilities who passed the MCAS mathematics exam rose from 13 percent to 51 percent
- Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester (moves to Level 1)
In 2009 just 10 percent of African American students were proficient on mathematics MCAS. Today, that number has quadrupled to 40 percent.
Just 12 percent of students had reached proficiency levels on ELA MCAS in 2009. Today, this figure has more than tripled
Proficiency rates for English Language Learners rose by 56 points – from zero in 2009
- Blackstone Elementary School in the South End (moves to Level 3)
MCAS ELA proficiency rates jumped from 11 percent to 23 percent, with African-American students rising 20 points and Hispanic/Latino students rising 9 points
The mathematics MCAS proficiency rate has jumped 18 points
- John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain (moves to Level 3)
MCAS ELA proficiency doubled from 21 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2013 and the number of Hispanic/Latino students reaching this level almost tripled
Proficiency rates in mathematics jumped 30 points, from 23 percent to 53 percent
- Harbor Middle School in Dorchester (moves to Level 3)
Mathematics proficiency rates more than tripled from 7 percent to 22 percent
MCAS ELA proficiency rates jumped 10 points
Level 4 status allowed these schools to add learning time to the school day, invest in teacher development, make staffing changes and connect with partners. BPS has moved aggressively to protect these important tools by establishing innovation school status and launching other in-school initiatives to ensure academic progress and longer school days can continue. The state may also allow these flexibilities to continue even as the schools exit Level 4.
“While this is an important milestone, and we are pleased by the progress in the schools, progress that our staff, parents, partners and students have already noted, it is important that we acknowledge that the work to create quality classrooms and schools for every one of our 58,000 students must and will continue,” said Boston School Committee chair Michael O’Neill. “We are constantly reviewing lessons learned from these five schools in particular to discover best practices that we can share with other schools that face similar challenges, so that all students and families have quality options available.”
“It is our responsibility and obligation to ensure success for all students in all schools,” said BPS Interim Superintendent John McDonough. “Even as we celebrate forward progress for many schools, we must not let this success overshadow the fact that there is more work to do. We will use every strategy available, and even initiate some new ones, to ensure every child can find success in every school.”
Level 4 interventions are still underway in seven BPS schools: The Dever Elementary School in Dorchester; the E. Greenwood Leadership Academy in Hyde Park (partnering with Blueprint Schools Network); the Holland Elementary School in Dorchester; the Dearborn School in Roxbury; Burke High School in Dorchester; and English High School in Jamaica Plain (partnering with Blueprint Schools Network). The Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan was designated a Level 4 school last this year.
DESE considers two Level 4 schools for Level 5 designation
While preliminary MCAS data show progress in most of these schools, two of them – the Dever Elementary and the Holland Elementary School – are not making sufficient progress after three years of effort. The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education has designated them as Level 4, under consideration for Level 5.
As required by state regulations, in the weeks ahead the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet with parents, teachers and school partners before making a final determination. BPS will work to support these opportunities and will share more information with families as we receive it from the state.
“As a District it is our responsibility and obligation to ensure success for all students in all schools,” McDonough said. “In fact, we have already developed an action plan and have presented it to the Commissioner for review. In the weeks ahead we will work with him and are hopeful he will incorporate our recommendations into the end result. Both the Dever and Holland are popular with families. They have waiting lists. Each school has outstanding students, parents, teachers and staff who are working very hard every day and we are proud of each of them. Today’s results demonstrate that we truly do have the capacity to turn struggling schools around in BPS, so we will continue to improve all schools, and all the systems that support them, to make sure we help every child reach his or her full potential.”