Acting School Superintendent John McDonough announced today that the state has chosen two private education groups to take over control of the Holland and Dever schools in Dorchester, which the state says BPS has been unable to get into shape and which are rated as low as you can get under the scoring system used by the state to judge schools.
Unlocking Potential which already runs three charter schools in Boston, will become receiver of the Holland School and is renaming it UP Academy Holland. It's already advertising teacher positions at the school, which it plans to take over this summer.
The Blueprint Schools Network of Newton will assume control of the Dever. The non-profit was already working with BPS on curriculum changes at the Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy (K-5) and English High School.
In an open letter to educators and parents today, McDonough wrote:
We must never allow another school to move into Level 5 status. This is one of the things Mayor Walsh clearly outlined during his campaign and again today. We are fortunate to be led by a Mayor and by members of the School Committee who believe deeply in the vital importance of a quality, equitable and accessible public education for all students.
We are putting a new action plan in place to drive progress in schools that require significant additional support. It's called In-District Receivership. This allows us to quickly develop and implement plans to improve school quality in a way that engages teachers, parents, students and school teams to a rapid and positive effect.
This is an evolution of our high-support strategy, which emerged during the Improving School Choice process in 2012 and 2013. At the time, we noticed that a deep-dive into MCAS scores and other indicators led to some unexpected realities - including the fact that a few schools which many felt were moving in the right direction were actually stalled or even moving backward academically.
Since then we have rebuilt our organizational structure to provide a stronger network of support and mutual accountability between schools and central office. Our academic team, led by Dr. Eileen de los Reyes, has implemented a series of steps designed to immediately improve both the quality and configuration of support for educators - especially in schools that have had challenges with consistent academic progress in the past.
A great example of the In-District Receiver model in action is at the Mildred Ave. K-8 school in Mattapan. There, the school team has worked together to look deeply at data and to drive school change from the inside, working with parents and the community all along the way. There was no mandate from the state or threat of a takeover here - just clear indications from the student achievement data that there was a problem we needed to work together to correct. That's what we are doing - and the results so far are powerful.
Today, as we continue to support the Dever and Holland as they transition into these new partnerships, let us together affirm that no other BPS family will ever receive a letter to inform them their school will be placed under state receivership. We know that we are among the best urban school districts in the nation, as well as the most diverse. We are up to this challenge - let's rise to meet it and serve our students well.