New study targets state strategies to boost failing schools.

BOSTON — April 27, 2005 — The Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy at MassINC today issued Reaching Capacity: A Blueprint for the State Role in Improving Low Performing Schools and Districts, a research report that highlights specific needs and recommendations for enhanced state support in low performing schools and districts. The report was sponsored by the Noyce Foundation.

“State testing and the federal No Child Left Behind Act are identifying hundreds of schools each year—an ever-growing number—as low performing,” said Paul Reville, executive director of the Rennie Center. “The state needs to move aggressively to address these failures.”

Currently, 376 schools and 132 districts have been labeled for inadequate MCAS progress two or more consecutive years.

Drawing on research with principals and superintendents in struggling, urban districts, the Rennie Center’s report recommends that the state develop its intervention capacity in specific areas where school administrators cite the greatest need. Report recommendations include:

  • Increase state guidance on curricular and professional development options;
  • Develop a formative, value-added system to analyze MCAS data;
  • Increase state capacity to provide professional development, particularly in math, special education and strategies for English Language learners; and
  • Create state-level incentives to strengthen leadership at the local level.

To address these recommendations, the report calls for the Department of Education to make significant infrastructure changes, including increased collaboration with external turnaround partners.

“The SJC decision in the Hancock vs. Driscoll case placed the onus on the legislature and education policy makers to push reform measures that will support districts and schools labeled low performing” said Reville. “This report clarifies next steps for the state and its turnaround partners in building local capacity to improve student achievement.”

About The Rennie Center for Educational Research and Policy at MassINC

The Rennie Center’s mission is to develop a public agenda that informs and promotes significant improvement of public education in Massachusetts. Its work is motivated by a vision of an education system that creates the opportunity to educate every child to be successful in life, citizenship, employment and life-long learning. Applying nonpartisan, independent research, journalism and civic engagement, the Rennie Center is creating a civil space to foster thoughtful public discourse to inform and shape effective policy.

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