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State Renews Charter, Removes Conditions for GLCPS

GLCPS was Level 3 and in the 15th percentile when compared to other middle-high schools statewide. Based on 2016 assessment results, GLCPS is now in Level 2 and in the 35th percentile."

School officials were informed by DESE that the board is not expected to take up the matter in light of Mr. Chester's favorable recommendation.

"I am thrilled and relieved at the same time,'' said Dr. Stephen Furtado, GLCPS executive director. "Everyone, including the board of trustees, the staff, and the students and families, has been working toward this goal, and it feels great. We have evaluated every aspect of our program over the past three years, and made the necessary changes to improve. We are doing a much better job of analyzing student data to make those changes and improvements, including offering targeted professional development for our teachers, adding more tutoring and subject focus periods, fortifying our special needs and ESL departments, and building a comprehensive college and career program."

Abra J. Degbor, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for GLCPS said the charter renewal and removal of probation reflect the positive direction in which the school is moving.

"For the last several years, the Board of Trustees has worked diligently to ensure that the resources needed to meet the needs of the students are available. While we have been pleased with the significantly improved outcomes, we remain committed to ensuring that every student leaves GLCPS armed with the skills needed to succeed in the world before them. Commissioner Chester’s strong support and recommendation serve to affirm our commitment."

In his memo to the Board, Commissioner Chester reported on the school's progress toward meeting the condition placed on the school related to academic performance. He noted: "In 2016, the school did not meet its gap narrowing targets for its progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps for all students or for high needs students. In 2016, the school has a cumulative Progress and Performance Index of 64 for all students and 68 for the high needs subgroup.

"GLCPS, however, has exceeded graduation rate targets set by the state for the past two years. GLCPS's 4-year graduation rate for the 2015 cohort was 88.9 percent (state target was 80 percent), and the 5-year graduation rate was 100 percent for the 2014 cohort (state target was 85 percent). GLCPS's dropout rate continues to decline from prior years. In 2015, GLCPS's dropout rate was 1.8 percent, exceeding its annual target of 1.9. The school's dropout rates for all its subgroups (high needs, Hispanic/Latino, and white) met or exceeded targets."

Regarding the contrast between the school's MCAS scores and its graduation rate, Dr. Furtado noted that the outcome supports the challenging position GLCPS faces in providing programs and services to the number of 5th grade students who are already struggling academically when they enter the school.

"We consistently see improvements in student academic performance as they progress through the grade levels at GLCPS but it takes time and great effort on the part of the staff, students and their families to get those results."

In 2012, the state education board renewed the school's charter with conditions on its academic performance based on Commissioner Chester's recommendation. Two years later, the board placed the school on probation after determining that it had not met those conditions. DESE began monitoring the school's progress more closely and nearly two years later, removed the school from probation but did not remove the academic probation. Today's action lifts the probation status.

"I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the support and resources we have received from our stakeholders, supporters, and community partners over the past five years and especially during the probationary period," said Dr. Furtado. "It really does take a village."

In the report outlining the findings of the charter renewal process, with the exception of academic performance, GLCPS met or partially met all of the criteria including:

• Faithfulness to its charter: the school is faithful to its mission, implements the key design elements outlined in its charter, and substantially meets it accountability plan goals (meets)
• Access and Equity: the school ensures program access and equity for all students eligible to attend the school (meets)
• Compliance: the school compiles a record of compliance with the terms of its charter and applicable state and federal laws and regulations (partially meets)
• Dissemination: the school provides innovated models for replication and best practices to other public schools in the district where the charter school is located (meets)

Open to New Bedford residents, GLCPS is a tuition-free public charter school that serves 500 students in grades 5-12. GLCPS offers an exciting and challenging interdisciplinary curriculum with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, project-based learning, and the arts. Students who apply are chosen through a blind lottery. Enrollment is open to students in grades 5 through 8. This year, the enrollment application deadline is February 28th and the enrollment lottery is March 9th.