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 are 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 plan to use the flexibilities that the new laws allow to make significant changes in the 12 "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, and we are appointing new principals in five of these 12 schools, effective July 1, 2010. 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 will ask staff members at six schools to reapply for their positions. In order for our students to make the necessary rapid progress, we will need the most effective teachers and staff who are committed to this turnaround effort and who are eager to help us achieve these ambitious goals. This news will be troubling to hear for some, as the idea of a “fresh start” may sound extreme or severe. However, with fresh starts come new opportunities for our children, and their needs must come before all other priorities and interests.
We also intend to apply for competitive grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education, which are to be specifically allocated for the turnaround of underperforming schools. These resources will help us make strategic changes where they make the most difference, such as in more time for student and adult learning. Read more...