BPS Opportunity Index
What is the Opportunity Index?
The Opportunity Index is a pioneering tool designed and developed by the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) to measure and quantify schools that serve the highest concentrations of students in need. It incorporates a range of data representing factors that are outside of the schools’ control but are also predictive of students’ academic outcomes. These factors include data related to a student’s home neighborhood, such as safety; income and education levels; and physical environment. It also calculates factors specific to individual students and their families, such as the socioeconomic status of the family, and student attendance rates and academic achievement. These multiple measures are used to create an Opportunity Index score for each school that is based upon the concentration of students in greater need compared to to their peers across the district. Opportunity Index scores range from 0.01 to 0.99, with higher numbers indicating a higher average level of student need.
- For a detailed overview of the Opportunity Index, please click here.
- To review a list of all schools’ Opportunity Index scores for FY21, please click here.
How is the Opportunity Index being applied?
For the 2020-2021 school year (fiscal year 2021), BPS will apply the Opportunity Index to two allocations:
- The Partnership Fund: money provided to schools with the intent of funding school-based opportunities provided by external, community-based organizations, known as partners.
- School Support Funds: discretionary funding provided to schools to support academic goals and priorities.
Please click here for a detailed overview of these two applications: The Partnership Fund & School Support Funds.
The Partnership Fund
Historically, BPS has earmarked a pool of central office partnership funds for nonprofit organizations to partner with schools across the district. In FY18, BPS allocated a total of $5.8 million in partnership funds to 13 different partner organizations to provide school-based services such as after-school programming, tutoring, and mentoring. Although BPS deeply values its partnership funding as a strategic investment in our collective efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps, there has never been a coherent, equitable, and transparent strategy for how this funding was allocated.
Beginning with the FY19 budget cycle, BPS used the Opportunity Index to allocate about $6 million in Partnership Funds to approximately 60 schools. This funding is now distributed to almost 90 different Partner Organizations. In FY21, schools with an Opportunity Index score greater than or equal to 0.56 will receive a per-pupil allocation based upon their Opportunity Index score. Using their Partnership Fund dollars, schools are now empowered to choose and fund one or more partners to provide services that best meet the needs and priorities of their school communities.
It is important to note that hundreds of partners work in our schools every day. Most of these partners do not receive BPS funding to operate, and there are many other partners that receive BPS funding through a variety of school- and district-based resources apart from the Partnership Fund.
School Support Funds
In addition to Partnership Funds, BPS will also utilize the Opportunity Index to allocate a total of approximately $5 million in discretionary funds to over 100 schools. These funds, called School Support Funds, will be distributed to schools for them to use in ways that support their academic goals and priorities. This could include, for example, hiring additional staff, expanding technology, providing professional development, and engaging families. Schools with an Opportunity Index score greater than or equal to 0.35 and will receive a per-pupil allocation based upon their score.