Turnaround Overview

About Turnaround

In April 2015, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to designate the Holyoke Public Schools chronically underperforming (Level 5), placing the district in state receivership. The receivership provides the opportunity for a significant, sustained turnaround in Holyoke.

The 2015 Turnaround Plan was released October 1, 2015, and has been renewed twice: October 1, 2018, and December 16, 2022. Additionally, on September 26, 2022, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Jeffrey C. Riley removed Morgan School from chronically underperforming status on the basis of the district’s concurrent designation as chronically underperforming. This technical change signifies that the ongoing strategic transformation efforts at Morgan are fully aligned with and supported by the district turnaround plan.  

On March 25, 2024, Massachusetts Acting Education Commissioner Russell Johnston met first with members of the Holyoke School Committee’s Local Control Subcommittee and then later in the evening with the full School Committee. During both meetings, he delivered a clear message: He is committed to helping Holyoke develop a clear path forward to resume local control and end receivership of the local school system. While no date for the end of receivership has been set, the acting commissioner worked with subcommittee members to schedule seven meetings between April and August, 2024 that will help build their understanding of the School Committee’s roles and responsibilities and develop a document outlining the district’s path out of receivership, he said. As a foundation for that work, Acting Commissioner Johnston referred School Committee members to DESE’s regulations for Accountability and Assistance for Chronically Underperforming Districts and Schools

In the cover letter to the December 16, 2022 turnaround plan renewal, Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley and HPS Superintendent Soto Anthony wrote:

We are proud to share the progress Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) has made since the launch of the district’s turnaround plan in 2015. HPS is a diverse, caring community that puts students’ needs first and foremost. In the face of unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has deepened its commitments to provide all Holyoke students access to a full range of opportunities in life, career, and college. With perseverance and resilience, Holyoke students are closing the gaps with the rest of the state in their growth on state academic assessments. More Holyoke students are graduating with high school diplomas that represent their mastery of 21st century skills, gained through learning experiences connected with the work of the world. 

At the core of our turnaround efforts is our belief that extraordinary change is possible when we are all working together and putting students at the center of everything we do. As our new district tagline proclaims, Juntos Podemos! Together We Can! 

While HPS has made steady progress in some key areas over the past seven years, we must continue to strive for all students to achieve grade-level proficiency in all subjects. During the 2021-22 school year, HPS developed a new multi-year strategic plan entitled “Moving Forward Together,” to build upon existing strengths and tackle the challenges ahead with urgency. More than 1,500 members of the Holyoke community contributed their voices to this plan, through a yearlong process of community engagement led by Receiver Anthony Soto. By re-engaging community stakeholders with the strategic priorities of the district’s turnaround work, the Moving Forward Together process has strengthened the coalition that will sustain the district’s turnaround successes going forward.