MALDEN – The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today released the 2015 school and district accountability and assistance levels and commended 45 schools for high achievement, making strong progress and/or narrowing proficiency gaps.

The state also announced that four schools designated as “underperforming,” or Level 4, will exit that status after meeting their turnaround goals. Of the more than three dozen schools that the state designated Level 4 in 2010 and 2011, the majority have exited underperforming status.

Also notable in today’s results is the fact that Gloucester, Cambridge, Everett, Mashpee and Nantucket have joined the ranks of districts in which all schools are Level 1 or 2.

The state’s Achievement Gap Act of 2010 created an accountability system that carefully identifies the state’s most persistently low-performing schools and helps accelerate student achievement in those schools. That system has already shown results, and it will be used to support the turnaround of Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, the only newly-identified Level 4 school this year.

“Some of the smartest efforts in the Commonwealth can be found in turnaround schools,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell D. Chester. “I’d like to recognize all the educators and families who are providing students with a better future by raising expectations and implementing reforms.”

The 45 Commendation schools announced today include three Massachusetts public schools that the U.S. Department of Education has designated 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools. Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized in two categories: closing gaps and exemplary high performance. This year, Sewell-Anderson Elementary School in Lynn, Amvet Boulevard Elementary School in North Attleboro and Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose were recognized for closing gaps.

Accountability Designations:Under the state accountability system, the state uses statewide test scores over time, student growth percentiles and other factors to classify schools into Levels 1-5 as follows:

 Level 1: Meeting gap narrowing goals
 Level 2: Not meeting gap narrowing goals (or MCAS participation of less than 95 percent)
 Level 3: Among lowest performing 20 percent of schools or subgroups (or MCAS participation of less than 90 percent or persistently low graduation rates)
 Level 4: Among lowest achieving and least improving schools
 Level 5: Chronically underperforming schools

Districts that chose to administer PARCC instead of MCAS in grades 3-8 in spring 2015 were held harmless for any negative changes in their school and district accountability levels, although the commissioner has authority to designate a school as Level 5. The hold harmless provision does not apply to high schools, which all continued to administer MCAS, and to districts that administered MCAS to grades 3-8.

A total of 464 schools statewide are classified as Level 1 for meeting their performance benchmarks, including gap narrowing goals.

Exiting Level 4 this fall: Community Day Arlington (pre-K-4) and UP Academy Leonard Middle School (6-8), both in Lawrence; White Street School (K-5) in Springfield and Burncoat Street Preparatory School (K-6) in Worcester. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will immediately begin an exit assurances approval process with these four schools and their districts to ensure that the conditions necessary for sustained improvement remain in place.

Remaining in Level 4: A total of 14 schools in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, New Bedford, Salem and Springfield that were eligible to exit Level 4 will remain in that Level. These schools have shown some but not sufficient improvement.

Schools remaining in Level 4 will require support from their district leadership teams to assess current needs and determine what specific changes and enhancements must be made to dramatically increase the impact of turnaround efforts. This may involve modifying and strengthening existing turnaround plans, creating ambitious new goals under existing plans or developing new plans with different strategies.

Newly designated Level 4: Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Boston. The Department placed this school in Level 4 based on its MCAS performance over time and its graduation and dropout rate data.

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