Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Holyoke review

Chester introducing people at table
district review process: not going into depth on this today, as have yet to brief district
Note: post meeting, this went up from MassLive, which includes the full report from the state
district has report in hand

was most concerned about Holyoke, Lawrence, Fall River, Springfield, New Bedford
many changes in districts
"New Bedford
"Fall River...much more postive today"
"...very promising" (about other four)
"not that I'm satisfied that we have the educational performance in those districts
"I don't have the same level of confidence in Holyoke by any stretch of the imagination"
district has put time in
district was declared underperforming in 2003
Dean Technical and Morgan Elementary part of first schools
"both of those schools continue to absolutely struggle"
Dean has second turnaround partner
monitored an accelerated improvement plan
"some of the core markers of the district are absolutely alarming"
"some of the lowest results..." growth, graduation
"maybe 1 out of 3 reading on grade level...1 out of 4 in math...1 out of 5 in science"
in the most recent year, 1 out of 5 suspended out of school
"Doing nothing and hoping for better results is not a strategy"
"receivership is not off the table"
continuing discussions with School Committee and district

McKenna notes that the Board got 70 pages on this on Saturday

Q from Morton: are they on an upward trend?
Chester: don't see a trend here, in any way shape or manner
some of activities Superintendent has taken are positive directions for the district
question in my mind on what it will take to improve instruction for students
"major question if under current conditions substantial progress can be made or not"
speaks of "levers" in 2011 improvement gap
Q from Daniels: very encouraged and discouraged: relationship with teachers
incongruency on testimony of teachers today and ownership of teachers from report
"my patience for this kind of stuff is short"
Chester makes distinction between teachers and teachers union

McKenna cautions not to discuss further without district being able to further weigh in

Q from Calderón-Rosado : process and timeline
Chester: not making a recommendation to Board today
will have on agenda in March and likely in April again
better sense in my thoughts by then
"these kids are being robbed of a future right now"
statute lays out a process for receivership
"I'm not at the point of making that recommendation"

Q from Stewart: "I was a locally elected School Committee member...we're very far removed from the community of Holyoke"
"helpful for us to help you with your process on Holyoke"
what has gone forward in the past has served most communities pretty well
pace of change, have been hearing about for past four or five years
"I think if Holyoke were a challenging students, we would differentiate"
would find a different way
"I don't think it's helpful to say 'we have these tools, we can bring down the hammer.'"
"we know that schools are challenging institutions"
"knowing that things haven't really changed in ten years, something else is in play"
"we really need think differently about what to do"
does include more autonomities, more improvement, removing fear of failure
community did invite Commissioner to conversation
"many more approaches are necessary"
Stewart clarfies that she was responding to the Commissioner's comments

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