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New Haven Establishes "Tiers" for Public Schools
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New Haven’s new plan to improve public education includes assigning each school to a level, or “tier”.   The first round of rankings was announced on Monday. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.

New Haven schools are evaluated in 3 areas: improving test scores, attendance rates, and school climate.  Speaking to teachers and principals, Superintendent Reggie Mayo assigned tiers to seven schools.

"Davis and Edgewood... those are the two Tier One schools, give them a hand."

Mayo says high-performing Tier One schools get greater independence from central office supervision. 

"Tier One and Tier Two will have more say over their destiny.  Less flexibility with Tier Two."

And Tier Three includes  “turnaround schools”, where there is much more intervention.  Teachers union president David Ciccarella says New Haven teachers have been part of the “tiering” process.

"As much as the final decision certainly rests with them I just want to emphasize and underscore these are decisions that we’ve participated in and they’re decisions that we completely support."

All New Haven schools will be assigned a tier by next fall.  The program echoes a federal push to change the way schools are held accountable nationwide.  Speaking to reporters on Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the Obama administration’s plan to overhaul the No Child Left Behind law gives states more say in how schools operate. 

"For the vast majority of schools, we’re going to get rid of prescriptive interventions.  We’ll be giving them flexibility to find  how they will meet their targets."

But Duncan stresses that under the Obama plan, state-officials will assume control over Title One education funding in chronically low-performing schools. 

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.