Five Springfield schools must turn around or face a state takeover.
As a last resort effort, the district announced Thursday they'll be partnering with Harvard University, after they were told by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that they have two choices - either choose an educational partner to make some gains or the state takes over.
"We have an opportunity now to partner with them to help us in some of our schools that have been a challenge in Springfield," said Superintendent Daniel Warwick.
The city currently has 11 Level 4 schools. Now five will be evaluated by Harvard University's Education Innovation Library, a group that has been working with challenging schools across the country.
"They've had great success in the Houston and Denver public schools turning around the most chronically underperforming schools in those districts," Warwick said.
On their website, Ed Labs says:
"We are an eclectic collection of scientists, educators and implementers with diverse backgrounds and vast experience, generating ideas and implementing experiments that have the potential to transform education."
The agency will be evaluating the schools' resources and practices and will even be recruiting educators to the district.
Warwick says that is what will make the difference in underperforming schools.
"We think it's going to be great for our kids in those schools and we're thrilled to be working with them as we move into the future," he said.
The program will mostly be paid for through grants for school improvement, but the district will shoulder some of the cost, though how much is still undetermined.
Warwick says the cost is nothing compared to the importance of making strides in education.
"By working with a partner we're going to be able to extend the Level 4 status of those schools and the state is really pleased with the progress of a lot of our Level 4 schools," he said.
The schools being evaluated are Chestnut, Kennedy and Kiley middle schools, the High School of Commerce and DeBerry Elementary, which was just designated a Level 4 school in the fall.
The program will begin next year.
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