U.S. Department of Education names New Mission High School one of four Blue Ribbon Schools in Massachusetts
New Mission High School in Hyde Park won a coveted National Blue Ribbon Award today, joining fewer than 300 other high–ranking schools nationwide and only four in Massachusetts, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced this morning.
"Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers," Duncan said. "National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education.”
Duncan today announced 286 schools as the 2013 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools, based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement. Founded in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' academic achievement.
New Mission has 263 students, 93 percent of whom are African American or Hispanic/Latino. MCAS test scores released last week indicate that at New Mission, 92 percent of students scored advanced or proficient in 10th grade English, 86 percent scored advanced or proficient in 10th grade Math, and 66 percent scored advanced or proficient in 10th grade science. Last year BPS moved New Mission from its former home in Brighton to the Hyde Park Education Complex, a recently-renovated, larger space that offers room for the school to expand enrollment.
“We are very proud of them, given the fact that they changed buildings recently and were still able to keep up with the progress they made,” said School Committee Chair Michael O’Neill. “A transition like that can be hard on the students and staff and it would be easy for a school to lose their culture and what makes them special, but they persevered, and that’s a testament to their commitment.”
New Mission becomes the fifth BPS school, and only the second non-exam school, to earn the Blue Ribbon honor. Other recipients are Fenway High School (2012), Boston Latin School (2011), Boston Latin Academy (2010), and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science (2010).
“This is great news and the students and staff at New Mission deserve congratulations on behalf of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Boston School Committee and the entire BPS community,” said John McDonough, BPS Interim Superintendent. “Their success is our success and it is my hope that other BPS schools will soon join the ranks of Blue Ribbon Schools as well. It is a priority for us to focus on schools at the lower rungs of the achievement ladder and offer them the resources and support to climb to the top.”
New Mission High School utilizes Saturday programming, a Homework Academy, and personal tutoring and advising to achieve high academic performance, said Headmaster Naia Wilson. The school partners with EdVestors, a Boston-based organization that works to speed improvements in urban schools. Last year, EdVestors named New Mission the 2012 “School on the Move,” a $100,000 prize to recognize schools that have demonstrated dramatic improvement.
“We are very excited because for us, this is a validation of all the hard work that we’ve been doing for years,” Wilson said. “This is really all about the phenomenal staff and the students and their families who have bought into the culture of achievement. The work here has been very strategic, we’ve combined rigorous courses with support. We have intense multiple meetings very week where we look at the data and make sure no student falls through the cracks.”
Wilson said the culture of the school encourages academic growth. Students respond by taking advantage of advanced placement or honors courses. Every year, Wilson and her staff go from class to class to discuss with students which courses would be most beneficial for them to take the following year. Through consultation with their families and academic counselors, the students pick a schedule that draws a path to academic success beyond high school.