Superintendent of Schools
22 Main St.
West Newbury, MA 01985
For Immediate Release
Friday, Oct. 31, 2014
Contact: Jeff Mulqueen, Superintendent
Pentucket Considers Suspending Membership in New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC)
Growing Concerns about Relevance as Valuable Agent for School Improvement Prompts Recommendation for Pentucket to Suspend Membership
WEST NEWBURY, Mass. — Amid a sea of change in the way schools are evaluated and structured over the last several years, Pentucket High School is currently reconsidering its membership in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
School districts around the Commonwealth have recently questioned the relevance and continued usefulness of NEASC as an agent for improvement. Pentucket High School, like many other schools in the region, has been a member of NEASC for decades. While its resources and review process may have been valuable in the past, new accountability mechanisms have been established in Massachusetts over the past decade.
“There are many demands placed on educators and only a certain number hours in the day. Years ago, NEASC was a valuable way for schools to self-evaluate and make improvements, but its time appears to have come and gone,” said Jeff Mulqueen, Superintendent of the Pentucket Regional School District. “Implementation of state-mandated accountability mechanisms has reduced the significance of NEASC, and it would be irresponsible to commit ourselves to initiatives that no longer yield the most results for our time and investment.”
Today, annual state assessments (MCAS), new standards for professional practice as part of the educator evaluation system, and expectations for all students to reach high levels of achievement predominantly support and guide Pentucket High School’s work.
There has been significant discussion in many school districts about the concerns over the NEASC process. These concerns include, but are not limited to the amount of time needed for the self-study process, the expense associated with the self-study and the site visit, and the value of such a process in improving schools. The estimated cost of conducting the self-study and hosting a site visit is approximately $25,000, and the annual membership fee is approximately $3,200.
More importantly, the process of self-study requires an inordinate amount of time from educators that needs to be committed to higher priorities, such as the new educator evaluation system, the development and implementation of District-determined Measures, and related improvements in curriculum and instruction. Presently, the Pentucket administration believes that state-mandated initiatives are more effective, more time-efficient, and less costly.
The Pentucket Regional School Committee has raised similar questions and engaged in discussions since December 2013. At the October 21 business meeting, Superintendent Mulqueen responded to questions and ultimately recommended a temporary suspension from NEASC. Similar decisions have resulted from discussion in Burlington, Newton, and Reading.
“Pentucket is engaged in contemporary, ongoing improvements to ensure each student has access to a future of his or her choosing,” Superintendent Mulqueen said. “Pentucket teachers are seeking to integrate challenging academic standards, adaptive leadership skills, and high levels of personal meaning into the educational experience of every student, and we have to leave some of the old ways behind in order to accomplish these goals.”