Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Bellville discusses the Student Opportunity Act plan for Chicopee schools.
Reminder Publishing screen capture by Tyler Garnet

CHICOPEE — At the School Committee meeting on March 20, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Accountability Jennifer Bellville present new focus areas for Chicopee schools in their updated Student Opportunity Act plan.

Bellville explained the benefits of the Student Opportunity Act.

She said, “The overarching goal of this is to ensure that every student has high quality public education. The plan is not related to the funding.”

The Student Opportunity Act requires every school district is Massachusetts to create an evidence-based plan for reducing persistent disparities and achievement across the student groups.

“This is a three-year plan that we have to provide progress reports annually as well as we can change our priorities along the way. The purpose of the SOA plan is not to describe how we are going to spend the additional funding. It focuses on our evidence-based programs and strategies,” Bellville added.

In 2020-21, Chicopee submitted a three-year evidence-based plan to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and provided progress reports for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.

The five priority areas included expanding access to full day pre-K for 4-year-olds, adding early college programs for students underrepresented in higher education, inclusion/co-teaching for students with disabilities and English language learners.

It also prioritized addressing social-emotional learning and mental health needs and increasing opportunities for all students to engage in the arts, enrichment, world language, athletics and elective courses.

This year, the state made changes to how districts were going to submit their Student Opportunity Act plans.

“This year the state put out 10 priority focus areas. Districts were asked to choose one to three from this list. Under this list they were given specific evidence-based programs that were tied to that so DESE provided everything that we were to choose from,” Bellville said.

The presentation included three focus areas that Chicopee schools will work on.
The first focus area is implementing a multi-tiered system that helps all students progress both academically and in their social, emotional and behavioral learning.

Bellville added, “What that really is talking about as far as our evidence-based programs is that comprehensive tiered supports and its looking at in our district, what do we have at tier one academically, socially, behaviorally for all of our students and then where are at tier two and where are we at tier three.”

The second focus area continues with the multi-tiered system process to implement academic supports and interventions that provide all students, particularly student with disabilities and multilingual learners, equitable access to deeper learning.

“This specifically talks about those high level practices for students with disabilities and English langue learners. We chose targeted academic support and acceleration because we were asked to choose specific things that the commissioner prioritized,” Bellville added.

The third focus area is to develop a coherent and holistic range of programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of diverse learners.

Bellville added, “We’ve talked a lot about expanding our pre-school opportunities specifically for our four-year-olds but across our entire district including potential collaborations with local providers.”

The presentation also included two additional focus areas to discuss the high quality secondary pathway programs and educator preparation partnerships.
Bellville added, “These are two areas that we are continuing to do a lot of work with and I think as we continue to get our multi-tiered systems of support in place, as we are looking at our academic pathways, as well as the other pathways in our district, these are areas we are going to continue to expand on.”

The School Committee unanimously approved the new three-year Student Opportunity Act plan focus areas.

Bellville added, “We can amend our plans annually. At the end of next year, we will look at our data and we will see if this is what we want to continue for our focus areas and priorities moving forward.”