School Officials Worry after WHS Falls “Among the Lowest Performing 10% of Schools” Statewide

By Chris Wangler
September 26, 2023

Waltham High School requires state assistance or intervention, according to accountability data released last week by state education officials.


An accountability system from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) divides schools into those needing or not needing assistance or support.

The report said WHS is “among the lowest performing 10% of schools” in the state and that the school is “in need of focused/targeted support.”


At last week’s school committee meeting, members expressed concerns.

“Why would I want to keep my child at Waltham High School if this is the outcome that we’re seeing?” asked member and parent Liz Al Jammal.

The accountability criteria include MCAS scores, graduation rates, chronic absenteeism and other metrics.


After an accountability hiatus during the pandemic, DESE is now looking at 2019 data and setting certain targets, said Sarah Kent, the WPS Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. 

Waltham High School made “limited or no progress toward targets,” with 0 points out of 4 on its annual dropout rate, 1 out of 4 on chronic absenteeism and 0 out of 4 on English language proficiency.


“Why were we not able to achieve these things that they set up specifically for us?” asked school committee member Debbie Coleman.

Now that school leaders have the data, Kent said each school will report to the school committee with plans moving forward. Some solutions are already being implemented at Waltham High School.


The silver lining is that Waltham Public Schools as a whole do not require intervention and no other Waltham public school requires intervention.

Some schools, especially Waltham elementary schools, either made progress toward or exceeded DESE targets.

File photos