Governor Baker visits Springfield to learn about “Empowerment zone”

The program takes a non- traditional approach to public education to rapidly improve learning for middle school students.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker went to Springfield Tuesday to learn about a new education format being used at most of the city’s middle schools.

Back in 2015, Springfield school leaders decided to enroll 10 of Springfield’s 12 middle schools into a new program called the empowerment zone.

The program takes a non-traditional approach to public education to rapidly improve learning for middle school students.

“I worked at a charter school for years and as a traditional public school principal and now to have this third way model, it has been a real game changer. I think we’re leading the state and the nation in this kind of work,” said Michael Calvenese, Principal at John J. Duggan Academy.

The hope is improve outcomes at under performing schools. All ten of the schools were ranked at level 4, when they entered the program.

“This is moving in a very positive direction for the city it’s a positive direction for the students and their parents it’s a positive direction for students and administrators,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

As part of the new empowerment zone program, teachers at these 10 middle schools now have a say in some of the administrative decisions.

“Some major things have changed one of them being the autonomy, our teachers and staff have autonomy over what we do on a daily basis and how we do it,” said Tom Mazza, Principal at Forest Park Middle School.

Both of the principals I spoke to today said they expect to have their schools moved out of level 4 by next year.

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