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Massachusetts Schools Get F in Progress

Thirty-eight Bay State schools - including a dozen in Boston - failed to meet federal benchmarks for the fifth year in a row, setting the stage for dramatic action next year if progress is not made, results released yesterday show.

The schools are now identified as needing ``corrective action,'' meaning they must create a state-overseen improvement plan.

``They cannot do nothing,'' said state Department of Education Assistant Commissioner for Accountability and Targeted Assistance Julianne Dow.

If the schools fail to meet the standard, known as adequate yearly progress, again next year, they will fall into the ``restructuring'' category, giving the state dramatic powers to step in.

Replacing principals and superintendents, creating a new charter school or an outright state takeover are all options available.

At the heart of Massachusetts' assessment system is the federally mandated goal of having all students score proficient or better on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam by 2014.

That Dorchester's Trotter Elementary School did not meet the standard in either math or English for five years in a row was news to parents but not surprising.

``It might be a big concern if it happened for the past four years,'' said Ursula Payne of Roxbury, whose two daughters, Aisha and Alaya, study at the Trotter.

Payne and others blamed increasing discipline problems.

``(The school) has gone downhill in terms of structure and discipline,'' said parent Sheila Daly.

The ratings released yesterday pose another new challenge. The performance of eight different groups of students were separated for the first time, forcing districts to make sure black, Hispanic, special needs and other underachieving groups are progressing.

While 94 percent of the state's 237 districts made adequate yearly progress overall, just 27 percent saw each of its subgroups meet the standard.

Boston as a district did not make adequate yearly progress, but Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant said he was pleased because it was attendance, not student performance, that led to the downgraded rating.

He will put together a review team to begin examining the dozen schools that again failed to make adequate yearly progress and ``try to provide the support they need.''

To Massachusetts Teachers Association President Catherine A. Boudreau, whether the state will support the 38 schools was key.

``If they're not, then it begs the question, do they really care about improving the schools,'' she said.

``We hope that's what the commitment is.''

— Kevin Rothstein
Massachusetts Schools Get F in Progress
Boston Herald


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