Report targets achievement gaps
By Jacqueline Reis, Telegram and Gazette Staff
The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the largest teachers union in the state, has released recommendations from teachers about narrowing achievement gaps in Gateway Cities such as Worcester, Fitchburg and Leominster.
Gateway Cities are the 24 communities with populations between 35,000 and 250,000 and income and education attainment levels below the state average. The report also includes input from teachers in Cambridge and Somerville.
The six recommendations are:
• Have all students learn a second language to fluency, starting in kindergarten, and adjust MCAS rules to give English language learners more time before they must take the test.
• Reduce student suspensions to all but the most egregious offenses, end zero-tolerance policies, create supervised spaces within schools where students can refocus rather than being sent to the office, and develop programs that reward positive behavior and evaluate disruptive students for special needs.
• Ensure all teachers are prepared to teach diverse students and have the autonomy to apply their skills in their classrooms.
• Strengthen school-community relationships by designating an educator to serve as a community liaison and by creating schools that stay open beyond school hours to serve the community, including new immigrants.
• Lengthen the school day and reorganize the school year to better serve students.
• Encourage Gateway Cities to collaborate and jointly seek grants.