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BPS Celebrates Twelve Schools Rising to Level 1 Status in New DESE Accountability Data

District reaches a major milestone as 46 schools are designated in the state's top two tiers


Boston, MA. - Monday, September 26, 2016 - Working toward closing the achievement gap in the Boston Public Schools, several schools around the city demonstrated improved performance in various key assessments, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's 2016 accountability results.

Altogether, 12 schools in the Boston Public Schools system this year rose to top Level 1 status for meeting assessment targets, bringing the total number of BPS schools presently in that top accountability level to 21. In addition, BPS now has 25 schools designated as Level 2. The combined 46 schools in either Level 1 and 2 are the most for the district since 2012. 
The newly designated Level 1 schools include: Boston Arts Academy, Boston International and Newcomers Academy (BINcA), Bradley Elementary, Fenway High, Harvard/Kent Elementary, Umana Academy, McKay K-8, Mildred Avenue K-8, Mozart Elementary, New Mission High, Otis Elementary, and Quincy Elementary. 
"Our top priority is creating a public school system that gives all of our young people an opportunity to succeed," Mayor Martin J. Walsh said. "I am proud of the improvements we have made across so many of our schools as a result of the hard work of our students, teachers and staff. We will continue working everyday so that every single one of our schools has the resources to prepare our students for a bright future."
Six schools moved from Level 3 to Level 1, the state's top accountability designation for schools:
  • Boston Arts Academy, the city's public high school for the visual and performing arts, experienced strong gains in the performance of Hispanic/Latino students, who outperformed 94% of students in similar schools statewide in English Language Arts (ELA) and 92% of students in Math.
  • Boston International Newcomers Academy, a Dorchester high school, achieved an increase of 7.8 points over the past year in ELA in the Composite Performance Index (CPI), which measures the performance of a given group of students. This helped boost the school's proficiency rate in ELA by 23 percentage points, from 66 percent to 89 percent.
  • Harvard/Kent, a Charlestown elementary school, increased its overall CPI in ELA by 11.9 points and its overall Math CPI by 10.1 points. In ELA, every student subgroup experienced "high" levels of growth, indicated by a median Student Growth Percentile (SGP) of 60 or higher.
  • McKay, a K-8 school in East Boston, increased its overall CPI in ELA by 10 points and its overall Science CPI by 13.6 points. Every student subgroup in this school similarly experienced "high" levels of growth.
  • Mildred Avenue, a Mattapan K-8 school, continued to meet performance targets for all students and the high-needs student group for the second year in a row.
  • Mozart, a Roslindale elementary school, was formally commended by the state for narrowing proficiency gaps. In ELA, the "all students" subgroup experienced an exceptionally "high" level of growth, achieving a median SGP of 70. The overall CPI for every subgroup increased by more than 10 points, with economically disadvantaged students showing the greatest gain, moving up 16.8 points to 85.2.
"Our most improved schools are serving some of our most vulnerable populations, which shows that Boston Public Schools is a leader in this work," Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O'Neill said. "Our teachers in all of our schools are fearless in tackling challenges and doing everything possible to close the opportunity and achievement gaps." 
Guided by BPS' three core values of equity, coherence and innovation, schools are continuing to find ways to support students throughout the district.
"Our schools are empowering talented teams of educators who consistently collaborate to ensure every student succeeds," BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang said. "Our newly designated Level 1 schools serve as bright spots for the district as we enhance student achievement."


The district also saw improvement in its PARCC, MCAS, and ACCESS scores.
The English Language Arts proficiency rates for all 10th-grade BPS students on MCAS improved to 83 percent, part of a promising 19-percentage point increase since 2009. Proficiency rates improved across most subgroups, including economically disadvantaged students, English Language Learners (ELLs), and students with disabilities. 
The increase in the percentage of ELLs scoring Proficient or Advanced on MCAS jumped 7 percentage points in 2016 to 58 percent, making the proficiency rate 42 percentage points higher than in 2009. In addition, 61 percent of ELLs made progress toward attaining English language proficiency, as measured by preliminary results from the ACCESS for ELLs Assessment. The median student growth percentile for ACCESS (SGPA) was 60 in 2016, indicating "high growth," continuing an upward trend of a 50 SGPA in 2014 and 54 in 2015.
Grade 10 Black and Hispanic students also experienced gains in 10th-grade ELA MCAS in the 2015-16 school year, helping to close the achievement gap. The proficiency achievement gap in ELA between White and Latino students shrunk from 16 percentage points in 2015 to 10 percentage points in 2016, while the gap between White and African American/Black students narrowed from 15 percentage points to 7 percentage points during that same period.
In the lower grades, the district also continued an improvement trend. The percentage of grade 3-8 students in the district "meeting" or "exceeding expectations" on PARCC increased from the prior year, rising to 40 percent in ELA and 37 percent in Mathematics.

More School Accountability Results

While a number of BPS schools have made significant strides, some have experienced setbacks. DESE has chosen to move Brighton High School and Excel High School in South Boston into Level 4 status, which will require the Superintendent and his team to develop turnaround plans for rapid improvement at both schools. 
The Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan has been deemed "Level 4 -- under review." Mattahunt has been in Level 4 status for the past three years and has not experienced the rapid improvement necessary in order to exit that status. The district awaits further communication from DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester and his team regarding next steps.
The English High School, which had made significant gains in MCAS scores in the 2014-15 school year, did not improve enough this past school year to exit Level 4 status. The state moved the school into underperforming status in 2010. Any Level 4 designation is at the discretion of the DESE commissioner.
Additionally, the accountability levels for Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and Clap Innovation School dropped from Level 1 to Level 2 because each school tested less than 95 percent of students in one or more student subgroups, in one or more subjects. In order for a school to be classified as Level 1 - in addition to meeting gap-narrowing targets for all students and "high needs" student groups - the test participation rate for all groups in the school must be 95 percent or higher. 
For Boston Latin School, White students had test participation rates of 94 percent in ELA and 93 percent in Mathematics. 
The low participation rate for the White student subgroup in both subjects is primarily due to 13 students whose parents/guardians requested that their children be opted out from PARCC testing and two students who were absent during PARCC testing due to medical reasons.
At Boston Latin Academy, students with disabilities had a PARCC test participation rate of 97 percent in ELA and 90 percent in Mathematics. The low participation rate is due to absences from three out of 29 students in the students with disabilities group.
For the Clap School, two out of 29 students did not take the PARCC ELA test, resulting in a 93 percent assessment participation rate, which is below the 95 percent threshold.
Boston Public Schools has formally appealed to DESE to reconsider the lower classifications of Boston Latin School and Boston Latin Academy, at the request of those schools.