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Haverhill

May 20, 2014

School leadership makeover heats up

Scully asks for 'district turnaround specialist'

HAVERHILL — The School Committee is moving fast to fill a newly created senior administrative position in charge of improving student performance at several schools with habitually poor test scores.

Superintendent James Scully said Haverhill is under increasing pressure from state education officials to improve test scores at Tilton Elementary, Haverhill High School and several other struggling schools.

Tilton is the city’s lowest performing school and the high school rates in the bottom 13 percent of public high schools in the state based on academics, graduation rates and attendance, Scully said.

The new director of accountability and school improvement position will focus on improving instruction to non-native students learning English, Scully said. Test scores among that population of students have been a major factor in Haverhill’s low test scores.

The superintendent said he plans to recommend as soon as this week a “district turnaround specialist” for the job, subject to approval by the School Committee. Scully’s preferred candidate for the new position recently applied for the assistant superintendent job that was filled last week when the School Committee hired Julie Kukenberger.

Scully said the person he has in mind for the new position has extensive experience working in urban districts with low test scores and high minority populations.The School Committee has set the starting salary for the new position at $125,000 per year.

“The state has made it clear that Haverhill has to improve its delivery of services to English language learners,” Scully said. “I want to have a fresh set of eyes on this portion of our student population.”

The Haverhill district is one of the only urban school districts in Massachusetts without a director of accountability and school improvement, Scully said.

The new position will also focus on improving instruction in science, technology, engineering and math, the superintendent said. He noted those subjects have become increasingly important to colleges when selecting students.

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