About Department of Elementary and Secondary Education "Level 4" Schools
On March 4, 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its list of “Level 4” Schools, which are schools that have been designated by the state as significantly underperforming over several years. Twelve Boston Public Schools were among the 35 schools statewide designated as "Level 4." This designation allows districts to utilize the new tools granted in the landmark education reform law that was passed in January. These tools include the flexibility to change staffing and work conditions considerably.
In Boston, we are using the flexibilities that the new laws allow to make significant changes in the 11 (one school was closed at the end of the 2010/2011 school year) "Level 4" schools in our district (see Process and Milestones chart).
There are many factors that contribute to the turnaround of an underperforming school, and we have accomplished this feat of rapid transformation many times in Boston. Experienced leadership in the work of school reform is critical. On July 1, 2010 we appointed new principals in five of these 12 schools. The remaining seven schools are led by principals and headmasters who have been appointed in the past two years (see list of leadership appointments).We asked staff members at six schools to reapply for their positions. In order for our students to make the necessary rapid progress, we needed the most effective teachers and staff who are committed to this turnaround effort and who are eager to help us achieve these ambitious goals.
Update, June 8, 2011: Read the status report presented to the Boston School Committee.
List of BPS "Level 4" Schools
Louis Agassiz (closed at the end of the 2010/2011 school year)
William A. Blackstone*
Paul A. Dever*
John P. Holland
John F. Kennedy
William Monroe Trotter*
K-8 & Middle Schools
The English High School
* "Fresh Start" school (all staff were asked to reapply for their positions)
March 4, 2010 Press Release: Intervention plans for city's underperforming schools unveiled
*Updated 4/22/10* Personnel Update: Turnaround School Principal and Headmaster Appointments
Replicating success and turning around low-performing schools is one of the four key strategies outlined in the district's Acceleration Agenda. The Acceleration Agenda presented to the Boston School Committee by Superintendent Johnson in November 2009 included a specific focus on targeted interventions in 14 schools with several years of inadequate progress and outlined a plan to hold these schools and the district accountable for dramatic improvement, along with additional supports and investments.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approved 11 out of 11 requests for Turnaround School funding in the Boston Public Schools. BPS submitted the plans to the state in a competitive process. BPS will receive more than $22 million in school improvement grants over three years.
Among the substantial changes taking place at these schools is an increase of 30 minutes in daily instructional time for students as well as an increase in planning and professional development time for teachers and other staff members. For more information, see the August 12, 2010 BPS news release and the news release from the State of Massachusetts.
The Boston Public Schools' plan for rapid reform at the 12 "Turnaround Schools" received approval from a joint resolution committee. The decision allows for a longer school day and will give teachers extra time for professional development and to prepare lessons. Under the resolution, teachers receive a stipend for the extra time at a rate lower than the pro-rated salary requested by the Boston Teachers Union. The agreement also allows the Superintendent to implement a new pay-for-excellence plan that recognizes exceptional teams of teachers through “team rewards.”
For more on the decision and what it means for students, parents and teachers, please see our June 20, 2010 Turnaround Schools news release.
January 27, 2010
Acceleration Agenda and Turnaround Memo (memo to School Committee, 1/27/10)
Acceleration Agenda and Turnaround Update (presentation to School Committee, 1/27/10)
December 16, 2009
Turnaround Schools Update - Funding (presentation to School Committee, 12/16/09)
December 2, 2009
Turnaround Schools: Profiles
Frequently Asked Questions: BPS Turnaround Schools
Read about the Acceleration Agenda, the five-year strategic plan for the Boston Public Schools