The chairman said the process in Randolph sounds very promising, and thanked staff for their work. Deputy Commissioner Nellhaus said he would forward the Turnaround Plan to Board members for review early in June, after the plan is submitted to the Department. Chairman Reville said he hoped the Board would be able to vote on the plan at the June meeting.
Districts’ Plans for Commonwealth Priority Schools
Chairman Reville said the Board received a report from the State Review Panels containing their recommendations on the adequacy and viability of the plans submitted by the nine Commissioner’s Districts that have Commonwealth Priority Schools. The nine districts are Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester. The chairman said the detailed review of the plans has been done by the State Review Panels working with the Department. The Board’s role is to oversee the process, which reflects the criteria that the Board established, and to discuss the findings and recommendations presented by the State Review Panels.
Commissioner Chester said the process has been consistent with the regulations that the Board adopted in 2006. The commissioner said the Board should judge the plans in light of the process and standards that have been in place. Commissioner Chester said that moving forward we would build on strengths and address areas where we can improve.
Deputy Commissioner Nellhaus said that schools that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the aggregate for four or more years are identified as Commonwealth Priority Schools. He said there are currently 114 such schools, including 65 schools newly identified by the 2007 AYP determinations. The deputy commissioner said that of the 65 schools, plans for the 53 newly identified Commonwealth Priority Schools located in the nine Commissioner’s Districts are before the Board today.
Board member Sandra Stotsky asked in how many districts were the remaining 12 newly identified schools. Deputy Commissioner Nellhaus said the additional 12 schools were in 10 districts. Board member Kaplan asked how many schools are in the state, and how many would be identified as underperforming going forward. Deputy Commissioner Nellhaus said there are approximately 1,800 schools in the Commonwealth, and it is difficult to predict how many schools would move into Commonwealth Priority School status.
Associate Commissioner Juliane Dow said that between 2000 and 2006, the Department allocated most resources toward conducting on-site panel reviews of schools to determine which needed help. Ms. Dow said that by 2006, it became clear that using the AYP determinations would be more efficient, and would allow a shift in resources to intervention and assistance to schools, rather than on the identification of schools. Beginning in 2006, the designation of Commonwealth Priority School status became automatic, and changes to the regulations directed districts to address the key conditions in a strategic plan that is presented to the State Review Panels.