Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meeting on Level 4 schools and federal School Turnaround Grant: presentation

I should first of all note that the meeting is up online for those who are interested in seeing what was said. If you go to the School Committee page, at the bottom, choose "School Comm. Special Meeting Level 4 Schools" (it's been corrected, and they get bonus points for having the meeting up by midnight last night!). Do realize that space considerations mean that press coverage cannot begin to include everything that was said at a three and a half hour meeting, though kudos to Jackie Reis for getting the gist of the conversations.

I did not take notes of the entire meeting. I'm posting here notes from what Deputy Commissioner Karla Brooks Baehr said during her piece. I did take notes of what the public said, which I will post in a separate post. I also will post more-or-less what I said.

the responsibility for Level 4 schools lies with the district; Level 5 schools lies with the state
Commissioner's district (based on Commonwealth Priority Schools) funded turnaround grants, proportional to population
strategic work for turnaround
consensus to use of funds
29 schools are Level 3, needs improvement (on top of the 2 Level 4 schools, of 44 schools in the city of Worcester)
Level 4 by state law is 4% of the lowest of the 18,000 schools in the state
Of the 35 schools statewide that are Level 4, they serve 17,000 students; 90% free and reduced lunch, 20% special education, 25% ELL

Superintendent creates plan after receiving input from stakeholder group
wide range of areas and practices
Commissioner then approves the plan or does not
district has three years to turnaround the school. To do so:
  • upward trend of MCAS data
  • "essential conditions of school effectiveness" are in place
  • district systems and support are in place, so no backsliding
School Turnaround Grant: competitive, not an entitlement
up to $500,000 per school per year for three years
requirement from the fed that WPS follow one of four models, PLUS teachers must be evaluated annually and that evaluation must include their impact on student learning (how, has yet to be determined)
Grant money must supplement, not supplant funding of schools
Some ideas being floated by other districts:
  • libraries
  • summer school
  • teacher stipends
  • social service supports
  • case workers in schools
This does raise the question of sustainable funding. Generally, these things go away once the money dries up.

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