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Governor celebrates success of Springfield Public Schools

Date: 10/3/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Deval Patrick said he was in Springfield on Sept. 27 to celebrate two events: the on-going progress in Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores across the Commonwealth and the fact the Alfred G. Zanetti Montessori School jumped from being a Level 4 school to Level 1.

Patrick was joined by Mayor Domenic Sarno, School Superintendent Daniel Warwick, School Committee Vice Chairman Peter Murphy and member Antonette Pepe in a tour of the school.

Zanetti had been classified by the state as “underperforming” and given the Level 4 status in 2010. Level 4 is one step above the classification that would compel the state to take over the school. In its three-year turnaround period, the school jumped to the highest classification.

According to information released by Patrick’s office, from 2007 to 2013 the percentage of seventh graders at Zanetti scoring proficient or advanced on the MCAS English Language Arts test increased 55 points to 74 percent. The sixth graders who took the math test went from 13 percent proficient or advanced to 65 in 2007.

“And that is a testament to the extraordinary hard work of the young people, the engagement of their families, the incredible leadership from the principal and the superintendent and all of the members of the faculty,” Patrick said.

Sarno said the improvement was due to a “partnership” between teachers, parents and students.

When asked if Zanetti would be a model for other schools, Patrick said, “It is a model. In additional to the overall high performance of our students the achievement gap in the Commonwealth is gradually closing. None of it is fast enough for me and probably not for the professionals in classrooms and for the families but we are clearly heading in the right direction.”

He continued, “In the Achievement Gap Act, the idea was to enable lot so ideas because ... a solution that be right for Zanetti may or may not be right for another school that is looking to improve their performance. So looking for the range of flexibilities and rules and tools so you can come up with a plan that’s right for the community of children that the school is dealing with and trying to lift up is important. Here at Zanetti they have made the most of those tools.”

Answering a question about how the state can fund educational efforts, considering the budget gap created by the repeal of the tax on technology services, Patrick said, “Ask that question to the Legislature ... it’s on them now.”

He said the good news is that “[state] revenues are performing well so far.”

Patrick added, “The responsible thing for the Legislature to do is to deal with this hole created in the budget.”