Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson announce proposal to transform Dorchester Elementary School
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson today announced a proposal that, if approved, would transform Dorchester’s John Marshall Elementary School into an in-district charter school. The proposal calls for Unlocking Potential, a Boston-based nonprofit school management organization, to partner with BPS to manage the school beginning in fall 2013.
“Unlocking Potential has an excellent track record in Boston, and I look forward to seeing this unique partnership again transform one of our schools,” said Mayor Menino. “UP Academy Dorchester will provide opportunities for even more Boston students to receive a high-quality educational experience, especially as we further expand it to a K-8 school in the coming years. I salute the efforts of the Boston Public Schools and Unlocking Potential.”
In 2010, Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson strongly advocated for the education reform law to include a provision for BPS to operate in-district charter schools. Since then BPS has opened three in-district charter schools, in addition to two Horace Mann Charters that already existed in the BPS network.
This new proposal must now go before the Boston School Committee for consideration. If approved, the proposal would then need the final approval of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. BPS currently has five in-district or Horace Mann Charter Schools.
Unlocking Potential plans to work collaboratively with parents and community leaders to ensure that all students currently enrolled at John Marshall Elementary know that they can reenroll at UP Academy Dorchester.
Unlocking Potential’s changes would include an eight-hour extended student day, new academic and behavioral expectations, and the roll out of a broad network of academic and other student supports. Teachers would begin twenty days before students arrive at the start of the school year for intensive orientation and planning.
The new school would be the second school partnership for BPS and Unlocking Potential. In 2011, South Boston’s Gavin Middle School was transformed into UP Academy Charter School of Boston. 85% of Gavin’s eligible students (those not graduating out) reenrolled at UP Academy, far exceeding the school’s historical retention rate. Last year, the school ranked first among Massachusetts’ district schools in median Student Growth Percentile (SGP) scores for Math, and first among Boston’s district middle schools in SGP for English Language Arts only one year after opening.
“We know parents in Boston want quality schools for their children and this proposal is part of our strategy to improve quality at 21 of our schools in need of high-support,” said Dr. Johnson. “To be successful in our mission we must use all the tools at our disposal. Unlocking Potential is a strong partner in our efforts to improve academic performance for the students we serve.”
During the 2013-14 school year, the school would serve more than five hundred students in pre-kindergarten through grade five. By the 2016-2017 school year, the school will expand to serve students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight.
UP Academy Dorchester would be Unlocking Potential’s third turnaround school in Massachusetts and second in partnership with BPS.
“We are excited to continue our unique partnership with Boston Public Schools,” says Scott Given, Unlocking Potential’s Chief Executive Officer. “Turning around a school is hard work. We look forward to getting started by recruiting a world class staff, redesigning the school’s programming, and building relationships with the school’s families and students over the next few months.”
A meeting for parents and community members will take place prior to the school committee vote on November 7. A date and time for the meeting will be announced this week.
This proposal is part of a broad BPS plan to improve quality at 21 schools that are not showing as much overall growth and performance as the District would like. It builds upon the successful Turnaround School strategy in place in 11 other schools.
For more information:
- BPS High Support Schools individual school-based plans
- EdVestors support for lower-performing BPS schools (read a news article)