Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Board of Ed: Holyoke district review

I should perhaps note that there are reports that students at Holyoke High are walking out as this discussion is happening
Sagan: we do not recognize the public to speak at this time, that was at the beginning of the meeting
"we're going to have an orderly meeting"
Chester: I am going to ask this Board to take a vote on receivership either in April or in May
will have to happen after public comment and meetings
seven or more year process
"my concerns about Holyoke are wide ranging"
and so, Mr. Commissioner, are Holyoke's
we know the consequences for students
"this is not blaming teachers, not blaming the superintendent..."
"I start with the assumption that there's very strong teaching going on in Holyoke and lots of strong administration going on"
"despite those strong pockets of instruction"
"needing to move a system that was not knit together in a systematic way to provide strong instruction"
"was struck when I visited the Union Hill School in Worcester"
Have made tremendous progress: now a Level 1 school, asked what the biggest challenge
staff members who identified students and staff members as biggest challenge were not those she wanted to work with
"have little confidence that short of the tools that receivership provides can get the kind of turnaround that Holyoke deserves"
initiatives around alignment of vision with central administration
"pervesive low student achievement"

Sagan: history and reason for visit moving up
Chester: concerned about having visit conducted in April "would be a delay that I didn't want to experience"
Sagan: input from parents? Where?
DESE: "all go into forming emerging themes" not a transcription
"did not necessarily lead to a specific finding that could be in the report"
Noyce: what additional information did you get from talking to School Committee?
DESE: was there to present
Noyce: you didn't have any questions for them? No
Stewart: a number of questions about Holyoke, I really need to understand the data
methodology: wasn't clear to me that all were with consultant
DESE: they weren't . One affialted with Cambridge Education: retired superintendents, retired school business professional, tied to six standards we're doing
Stewart has a review team? Yes
six areas: not one for family and community engagement
"included under student support standard" says DESE
Stewart: standard amount of time in classroom? 20 and 30 minutes
Stewart: documented how? standard rubric: 25 different themes in environment, teaching, learning
Willyard: what is it going to look like in the district from the student perspective?
Chester: Board has authority to vote receivership, then launches a process of developing a turnaround plan
may have longer school day, longer year, different curriculum
"for students, it's largely transparent"
Roach: heard in public comment the commitment of the teachers' association to improving the conditions in Holyoke, yet in recommendations of report, culture that was somewhat antagonistic
"assuming they're operating in parallel universes, there doesn't seem to be any effort to work" together
district working in its track, teachers working in their track
DESE responds yes
Roach: would identify that as most troubling
Sagan: observed that students are not recieving high order instruction: why?
DESE: not sure we gathered the appropriate level of information to know why, but not happening in classrooms
Q to Chester: was there this kind of opposition in Lawrence?
Chester: there was opposition in Lawrence, mayor embranced...that may be a little strong of a word...endorsed state receivership, union opposed, School Committee did not endorse
Q: what is condition in Lawrence today
Chester: seeing much more cohesive district with all parties rolling in the same direction
just going to comment here that you can't really ask the SC, as they have no power
Chester: very public in rationale for receivership, met with public, faculty, union
message that this is not about blaming folks in the room, need folks who are up to the challenge who are willing and commited to provide for the strong education for the children of Holyoke
have to be willing to be part of that change
carrying message to the community of Holyoke
McKenna: in response to Willyard's Q, everyone who works has to reapply
Chester: not quite what happened in Lawrence, is allowed, were people who left on their own volition
McKenna: would like to have definative data
new superintendent has been there a year and a half
rubrics on teachers: "when I looked at them I was extremely encouraged"
teachers earlier today said that they need more PD on Common Core
DESE: has made strides in providing professional development for teachers
one challenge review team found, limited imput of teachers in designing PD at district level
Q: where do you see the pockets of excellence in Holyoke? and compared to Lawrence?
DESE: several areas of strength, primarily in central office arena
district under accelerated improvement plan, was not surprising (and I think that they just took credit for that)
and he doesn't list the other strengths
wasn't involved in Lawrence, declines to compare
many of the questions of Holyoke SC were preceeded with needing more time
support for Dr. Paez
DESE has not received comment from business community
upon correction from a member of the public, Holyoke Chamber of Commerce weighed in against recievership
and after small lecture from Sagan around public process
Chester: met with School Committee, have not seen progress
have never visited a school that did not see pockets of excellence
"think we've understated that" tension between union and administration
Holyoke operates with two high schools: look at history of two institutions and how teachers are assigned and how students are encouraged to apply "it's alarming"
as recently as two years ago, Dean had a graduation rate of 25%,now up to 40%
this is being challenged by those from Holyoke, who are now being threatened with being removed
"take on this work with a huge dose of urgency and humility"
Sagan now pushing Board to be "very limited" in questions
Stewart: Title I funding: capacity issue is huge for me on this
information and data on Holyoke: assessment after influsion of $13M of state's outcome in that regard
Chester: receivership provides tools that didn't exist in the past
McKenna: who took over Dean?
Chester: first round of level 4 schools in 2010, district has had two different partners in running Dean
Sagan: process began five years ago when Legislature looked at schools in Massachusetts and put into law different responsibilities
or alternative, the Legislature looked at the budget and decided that they needed Race to the Top funding
Sagan: do we believe that the district on the current path has the result of getting there fast enough or if it needs other tools
we also know that there are great teachers or other
"need to affect the outcome for as many young people as we can"

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