Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Board of Ed for December: Springfield Empowerment Zone

Wulfson: established in 2014 "innovative approach to underperforming schools"
middle schools and one high school
"garnering a lot of interest from educators"

Johnston: receivers coming before you ever month
Springfield "an in-district receivership model"
Board hasn't heard from Springfield in two years; in third year of implementation

Gabrieli, chair of empowerment zone along with co-chairs
"one crisp goal...reach a 50/50 set of goal"
median student growth percentile in ELA and math by 2017
"disappointed that none of the schools made it in both goals"
none made it in math; 5 of 9 in ELA
improved more than other urban middle schools in state
Empower schools ran it for the first year; now has independent staff

co-chair "we set up the conditions for schools to be successful and then get out of their way"
empowers principals and teachers "to be co-decision makers"
think "that will bring about change that is sustainable"
majority of schools are run by same leadership
"really dig into the school level"
exemplify positive change
High School of Commerce: planning with outside facilitators to come up with the best answer
begin a path towards a shared definition of what student success look like in our schools
values that all our schools need to be shooting for
"what are the things we know that high performing schools do"
currently using still-being-built accountability system "do want to broaden that over time"
"developed collaboratively with our board, with the Department, with our union"
"to take the things that we know that worked and applied them to our community"
what schools need, and schools get that
"not a one-size fits all"
building capacity at the school level
teachers "get the professional learning that they need"
differentiated learning and instruction for students
"hold strategic action check-in meetings with principals monthly"
students attending an ELL model on Saturday mornings
"design and centrally operate those to have an economy of scale"
tools to help our schools be more strategic; data across the zone and of individual schools
founding documents that tell us how all of these partnerships work: MOU with district
"making it happen in real time is the really hard work"
collective bargaining agreement with union
emphasis on teacher leadership
"building collaborative school cultures"
survey out of Rutgers measuring how collaborative is your climate being put in this year
meet with leadership team (of union) every other week; resolve issues before they become big problems
superintendent in video "encourages other districts to give it a try"
"can already see it bearing fruit"
as always on this, there has been no response to the ongoing question which is: why is this necessary? There is nothing here that cannot be done within a district. 

Morton: founded in enthusiasm and passion
folks really enthusiastic in city of Springfield
thanks Gabrieli: "everything that you touch improves...spirit is one of collaboration"
"think that we are well-served by this strategy...have already seen that is beginning to work"
"I think that this is a model that's going to be replicated across the country"

Moriarty: with the math "rooting for you"
"real devil is looking at those sixth grade details and seeing how much remediation you're looking for"
haven't heard about Teach Western Mass: recruitment and retention
Try to stem up issues in that area
A: "one of those all hands on deck" approaches
really savvy recruiters from leadership
Gabrieli: requires ecosystem
Teach Western Mass is a 501(c)3: Holyoke, the SEZ, and several charters
"an uncommon level" of teacher leadership and involvement
"this is all one" ecosystem

West: "there's a lot of interest in what's going on in Springfield, not just in the state but nationwide"
pattern of results you're seeing in ELA but less in math "is very unusual"
"very different from what we saw in Lawrence"
any ideas?
discussion from Lawrence on transition back to local control: what does this imply for long-term vision for zone partnership? Is this an entity that will endure forever?
A: lots of readers several grade levels below; school improvement focus on reading
prioritizing works and being clear about what that meant
making sure they have the tools and curriculum needed to do that
"and now the focus is on math..have ELA going...strategies are working...and now it's math and what about math?"
doing a lot of analysis on why the math is the way it is
Gabrieli: "I don't think there's a crisp answer to that...look at the Lawrence as a similar strategy of partnering with local partners...the karma in Springfield is very positive"
six of seven board members are from Springfield: "I think that collaborative joint state-district is a model"
"think that we can think of this as a thing over time"
"without thinking of this either as a" state or district model
stresses amount of funding comes from state
state as a police action; nationally, that has overwhelmed the good intentions
"isn't outsiders or insiders only" in Lawrence
Wulfson: real focus on school autonomy
"that's the thing that we want to be sure we maintain for the future...and what's the administration that supports that model"
"that's the question before the house...how do these models support the model of school autonomy"

Trimarchi: student engagement and getting students to grow
A: student councils
"what do you want your school to be"
students bring visitors around
"have build in these systems to ensure that students are highly connected to at least one adult in the school"
family surveys for insight into how families are feeling about changes in their schools

Sagan: clearly you're having to do a lot of remediation: "does this model work at younger grades?"
partnership with rest of district?
A: people are interested in what we're learning
sharing what we're learning and the strategies
has come up in a number of conversations with departments to ensure transitions are seamless
summer schools, IEPs and programming for middle schools
strong willingness for district to see innovation
"open question if the Empowerment Zone would ever move into elementary schools"
Johnston: Springfield has a good record on turning around elementary schools
Gabrieli: it can work well there, "that's not our purview"
"a central element of this idea is to radically increase both the power and the resources at the school level"
"we're sending 80% of funding down to school level" though some resources then being purchased from central again

McKenna: showing enormous respect for the teacher

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