What is a “Level 3” School District and what does that mean?

If you’re like me, you are not really well-versed in some of the phraseology that is tossed freely around by school administrators and School Committee members.  It’s likely no accident that the general public isn’t familiar with terms like “Level 3” and “AYP”, because if it was, the school district would likely have its proverbial feet held to the fire over the meaning.

DY failed to meet the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) threshold last year.  As I understand it, this is what (or one of the reasons) that the district is considered a “Level 3” district.  The translation is that this district did not meet the minimum basic requirements set by state (or federal) guidelines and, as such, the district must now take certain corrective action in order to show that the administration has adequate plans to address the issues.

I’m in the process of locating information about what that entails and will certainly publish my findings as I obtain them, but I did locate an interesting article about Level 3 schools in Missouri which speaks to just such a standing:  UnderstandingYourAYP

The most interesting thing to me that I gleaned from this article is that, at least in Missouri, they are required to do some serious restructuring in administration when they become a Level 3 school district.  Likewise, they are required to offer school choice even more evidently than previously.  Our district is losing kids to neighboring schools (enrollment numbers have dropped significantly again this year) at what seems to be an alarming rate already.  In essence, the article says the following:  [emphasis in red added]

Consequences for Title I Schools in School Improvement, Level 3, Corrective Action, Year 1

What is Corrective Action?

If a school in School Improvement does not make AYP for four years, the school goes into School Improvement, Level 3, Corrective Action, Year 1. When a school is in Corrective Action, the district is still required to provide school choice and supplemental educational services. Additionally, the district is required to take corrective measures. Possible corrective actions include implementing a new curriculum, working with outside expert consultants, extending instructional time or making staff changes. If a school does not make AYP after one year in Corrective Action, the school goes into Restructuring.

School Improvement Level 3 – Corrective Action, Year 1 (after AYP is not met for 4 years):

The district must ensure that the identified school implements the following:

1. Evaluate the school improvement plan and add corrective actions;

2. The district must continue to provide or provide for technical assistance to the school;

3. At least 14 days before the beginning of the school year, notify parents of each child enrolled in the school in a language they can understand (see explanation of how to notify parents and sample letters on pages 31-45) and provide:

a. The meaning of the notification;

b. A comparison of the school’s academic achievement with that of other schools in the district and the state;

c. The reasons for the identification and what the school, district and state are doing to help address the problem;

d. Ways parents can become involved in addressing the academic issues that caused the school to be identified for school improvement;

e. An explanation of the parent’s options to transfer their child;

f. Notice of the availability of Supplemental Educational Services (SES) for eligible children, and that information about SES and how to obtain services will be coming within the next two weeks to parents of eligible children;

g. The corrective action to be taken.

4. Offer Public School Choice (PSC) to all students to transfer to another public school or charter school within the district. School choice is required if there are other schools in the district that serve the same grade level AND those schools are not in school improvement, corrective action or restructuring. All students who request a transfer must be transferred; however, if there are inadequate financial resources to transport all children, schools must give priority to lowest-achieving students from low-income families. Districts without PSC options may:

a. Offer Supplemental Educational Services (SES) as an alternative to PSC for schools in SI year 1 if either (a) there are no qualified schools or (b) the parents decline to transfer to the school assigned for their child;

b. Establish a cooperative agreement with other districts in the area for a transfer.

(See the USDE’s Public School Choice Non-Regulatory Guidance accessible online at http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/schoolchoiceguid.doc.

5. Make Supplemental Educational Services (SES) available using the letter template provided after the school improvement letter templates, and for more information go to the Supplemental Educational Services link at http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/fedprog/;

6. Districts are to include on their web sites the following information in a timely manner:

a. The number of students who were eligible for and who participated in PSC beginning with data from the 2007-08 school year and for each subsequent year;

b. A list of available schools to which students eligible for public school choice may transfer for the current school year;

c. The number of students who were eligible for and who participated in SES beginning with data from the 2007-08 school year and for each subsequent year;

d. A list of SES providers approved to serve the district, as well as the locations where services are provided for the current school year.

7. Take one of the following corrective actions:

a. Replace school staff relevant to the failure;

b. Institute and implement a new research-based and professionally-developed curriculum;

c. Significantly decrease management authority at the school level;

d. Appoint an outside expert to advise the school in its progress;

e. Extend the school year or school day for the school;

f. Restructure the internal organizational structure of the school;

g. Provide scientific research based professional development.

8. Schools in Corrective Action are not required, but are encouraged to spend not less than 10% of the building’s Title I funds on professional development.

9. Copies of parent notification letters will have to be submitted to DESE through a web-based mechanism called formHog. Districts will receive an email notice with instructions on how to submit the documentation.

It’s time we all become a bit more familiar with the terms and phrases that describe and define our district.  The Superintendent has proposed a budget which requests more money – in part to pay for hiring “coaches” whose job it will be to teach our teachers how to teach!


11 thoughts on “What is a “Level 3” School District and what does that mean?

  1. Patricia says:

    Thanks Susan, for being such a fine “interpreter!” I thought that I was alone not understanding all this… not having any children, I haven’t followed schools and their issues, so a lot of the talk is foreign to me.

    I am particularly interested in #3a thru 3g. I have been dumbstruck with the idea that students are choosing to go to other schools left and right, and there seems to be no accounting of the reasons why. I understand there is a significant increase in the numbers who’ve moved to other schools for the current school year, and that no one has asked the students or their parents why. It seems that this Level 3 standing will require appropriate action. Ideally, that action won’t simply be throwing money into the pot with the hope that a solution will arise!

    • There is no doubt that the Superintendent’s “answer” to the problem will be more money. First and foremost, she is proposing that the district hire “coaches” (teachers who teach teachers). So, while enrollment is decreasing, she proposes that the district and the towns agree to pay MORE money to hire MORE teachers. She has never once answered the continuous questions put forth by a variety of citizens about exit polling to parents who choose other schools for their kids. She attempts to distract and avoid the questions by saying that it’s difficult to track people down. I can tell you that I know several families who have chosen to send their kids to other schools and they live in the same houses today that they did when their kids started in DY in kindergarten. You can bet that she still has their number to use the district’s emergency phone call system to call with automatic reminders when the district has (or had, as the case may have been) their infamous “tent meetings”.

      I’m putting together some profound numbers on school choice – comparing DY to other schools on the Cape with regard to charter school choice – and giving a fairly clear picture of the numbers and I’ll be publishing it soon. Stay tuned!

      The reality is that we are losing our high achievers and that means that our measurable performance indicators are losing the top tier of performers to offset the lower scores. The district does not need teachers to teach our teachers how to teach – the district needs administrators who know how to offer challenging curriculum for ALL levels of learners so that it can keep its high achievers. From my preliminary research, we lose over half of our students at the high school level. There is one obvious reason for that, in my estimation, and it is that colleges look at high school performance only, so parents who have high expectations of their children pull their kids out of DY when it matters – at the high school level. That’s why I believe that we are losing the high achievers – the very high majority of high school students we lose are going to Sturgis or other better performing schools. That’s not to say that elementary school students aren’t being pulled for performance reasons, but it is also likely that parents may pull younger kids for a variety of other reasons too. I’ve had several parents contact me (through reading this blog) to tell me they have pulled their children due to safety concerns and similar issues.

  2. Jay says:

    Ms. Woodbury is all about power and control.

    I don’t believe she has the expertise required to guide the District and a positive first step towards restoring QUALITY would be to replace her as soon as possible.

    Until the District addresses the student outflow, and the reasons why ( hint QUALITY ), this costly process will not be abated… I sense one would be amazed by the names of those who have elected to send their children to Nauset.

    You can’t throw money at problems and think all is resolved…not to mention the “tentative budget ” increase of more than 4% is not realistic in today’s economy.

    For the most part, the School Committee is but a puppet for the administration which is intent on creating as large of an infrastructure as possible with declining enrollments, poor score/testing results .

    Why didn’t Ms Woodbury notify the School Committee and the public of the departure of the Director of Finance in a more timely basis….hummm

    Change must start at the top. Will the School Committee have the courage to do their job ?… or do we just keep plodding along?

    Our kids deserve far better than the status quo.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. She has her minions out doing her bidding by getting their biased, ridiculous, inaccurate information published in the local newspapers and she avoids any and all questions that directly address the decreasing enrollment. Instead, she focuses all attention on the federal and state funding requirements for special education and ELL (English Language Learners) students. This may sound impressive enough to scare the uninformed masses into believing that the district needs MORE and MORE money every year – but until the School Committee has the courage to stand up and make a difference – YES, starting with replacing Woodbury – this district will continue to decline into oblivion.

      The day is not too far away that the only students left in this district (and many, many other public school districts throughout the country) will be special education and ELL students. No Child Left Behind needs to be repealed and our public schools need to be completely revamped.

      You are correct that this starts at the top – the Superintendent and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the MTA for starters. Charter schools succeed because they have to succeed in order to keep their charters. Their teachers receive merit-based pay and they have the freedom to teach creatively and address the needs of their specific classes. It’s working and it’s time the public schools start paying attention.

      I outed Woodbury on her lie by omission when I questioned her about Joe Cucinotta’s resignation and I hope enough people saw her squirm to at least begin to question the appalling lack of transparency that exists. She lies about any number of things every time someone brings up something she doesn’t want to face or doesn’t want the public to find out. And the School Committee members – our elected officials, let’s not forget – just go along to get along!

      We absolutely have to find courageous candidates to challenge the status quo. John Henderson is the only member who challenges anything and he gets bullied and beat up every time he raises a question.

  3. Patricia says:

    There are three members of the School Committee whose terms expire in a few months (Brad Egan, Tom Broadrick. Andrea St. Germain… let’s start with them!

    • It’s our only hope! Woodbury’s contract comes up for renewal in July and it is no accident that out-of-school sending began to increase (enrollment began to decrease) within the last 5-6 years and her reign began 6 years ago.

  4. Jay says:

    John Henderson can’t do it alone….ever notice how he is treated by his fellow Board members ? Reminds me of kindergarten.
    I know John, and I know he doesn’t need the grief….he also has no children in the system, and his business affairs would preclude him from gaining any business by serving on the School Committee. I aslo sense he could afford any tax increase that the district comes up with !!! So, why does he serve?

    John does this because he has a sense of community and he cares about our kids and quality. That is first and foremost. John is an advocate of spending all that is necessary to ensure the best for the students.

    However, John also has a strong business mind, and he stands up and argues against waste,poor outcomes and weak management. And we have ALL of that !!!

    We need more dedicated people like John to be involved to ensure our dollars are spent wisely and for the real purpose…our kids, not to have a top heavy administration that is out of touch with reality and wouldn’t understand what quality is if it hit them in the face !!!

    Great idea.. hire teachers to teach the teachers…what am I missing here????

    .Better idea, just get better teachers !!!

    Wayne Bergeron is another wild card… A former teacher in the system, collecting retiree benefits…does he not understand he is not an elected representative to the district? He is a selectman…his pontificating and support of Woodbury is not only misplaced, but absurd. Beyond that, as a retiree with a vested interest in the district’s business decisions ( they may impact his benefits ), should he not recuse himself from any Town deliberations regarding the Regional School District ?

    Keep up the good works, John. Many appreciate your efforts !!!

    How do we start a grassroute campaign to remove Ms. Woodbury? When the AARA dollars run out, and they will ( were they actually intended for salaries ?) what trick will Ms. Woodbury come up with then???

    Get the Register to write a puff piece and then scare all the parents by using the reverse phone dial system to drum up support….time for change…what did she do in Munson that made her so attractive in the first place??? Munson ???

    • It’s no accident that Woodbury spent most of her speaking time discussing what a phenomenal district we have and how wonderfully it is performing – across the board – until Steve Edwards asked her to clarify what it meant that the district is Level 3 and she goes on to say that it means that our schools are not performing to meet the appropriate threshold and that, as a result, the MA DESE are now “our best friends”! She talks out of both sides of her mouth and says exactly what she thinks will sway the public. But it is more than satisfying to watch her stumble over the truth from time to time.

      Getting rid of the current Superintendent would only scratch the surface of what’s wrong in this district – but it would be a big scratch and it would show that the School Committee has the courage to make the changes necessary to try to turn the district around and save our dying district.

      But you are correct, John Henderson can’t do it alone. We need good candidates to run in May.

  5. ….Now part of the back-to-school end-of-summer routine the states 2009 Adequate Yearly Progress AYP results for schools were released last week..The number of District schools meeting their AYP targets was 118 compared to 113 . Charter schools did significantly better than District schools this year with almost three-fourths meeting their targets..One story that hasnt been written is that the District and 16 of its schools are now categorized by the state as in Corrective Action II 7th year..Now part of the back-to-school end-of-summer routine the states 2009 Adequate Yearly Progress AYP results for schools were released last week..The number of District schools meeting their AYP targets was 118 compared to 113 . Charter schools did significantly better than District schools this year with almost three-fourths meeting their targets..One story that hasnt been written is that the District and 16 of its schools are now categorized by the state as in Corrective Action II 7th year..This is the case even though there actually is no such category under the nor is there a 3rd 4th 5th or 6th year of Corrective Action..NCLB says that Corrective Action II 1st year is a year for drawing up corrective action plans – with the school community – for the restructuring of a school that has failed to meet its targets for five years.

  6. The 2007-2009 Sunnyside Corrective Action Plan serves as the foundation from which the Blueprint for Student Achievement is derived..Published May 2008.Since 2004 our district has not made adequate yearly progress AYP in either the content areas of math and reading across all levels elementary middle and high school or graduation rate. In addition there are requirements for the percentage of students tested graduation rate for high school and attendance rate for elementary and middle schools..The district in 2008 developed a new structure to address our status of Corrective Action. A District School Improvement Committee was formed to discuss major issues related to district and school improvement with the purpose of aligning priorities setting agendas establishing timelines and guiding the activities and tasks of the district school improvement process..As the next step more than 70 members of a District School Improvement Steering Committee conducted a districtwide self-assessment to identify.areas of need in curriculum and instruction resource management use of data communication and climate and leadership.

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