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BPS Celebrates Triumphs, Remains Eager to Forge Ahead to Confront Challenges

By Superintendent Tommy Chang

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) is strong because of the passion and diversity among our students, teachers, staff, and families. Urban school systems are complex, and it takes more than well-intentioned people to make a meaningful difference in the lives of all our children. Equity, coherence, and innovation are the three guiding values that we want to embody in everything that we do. It takes inspiring the hearts and minds of the entire Boston community to support a collective vision and coherent strategy to transform the lives of young people in this city.

Mayor Walsh and I are dedicated to doing what is in the best interests of the young people of Boston. I firmly believe that we can help BPS move closer to reaching its fullest potential. As a former teacher, I am inspired every time I step foot into a school, and I aspire to make an authentic, effective impact on all of our children.

Our graduation rate numbers are at historic highs: our most recent data shows that the four-year high school graduation rate is 71 percent. There has also been consistent progress in college completion rates. According to the latest Success Boston report, approximately 30 percent of Black and Hispanic students who enter college after high school graduation complete within six years. While not where we want them to be, we are continuing to get better and work even harder to achieve student success.

This fall, 12 schools rose to DESE’s top Level 1 status, bringing the total number of Level 1 BPS schools to 23. The new schools included six that moved from Level 3 to Level 1. This type of improvement in student outcomes represents a huge win for our children. In addition, we now have 25 schools designated as Level 2.

Over the past year, we have prioritized long-term financial planning at BPS and we have taken great strides to identify further operational efficiencies and streamline our work at Central Office. Because of this, we are prepared to balance the Fiscal Year 2018 budget without making any changes to the way schools are funded through the weighted student formula, despite continued uncertainties around state funding and other fiscal pressures.

With support from Mayor Martin J. Walsh and additional funding from the City of Boston, BPS will also invest $14 million in FY18 to allow more than 15,000 additional students in 39 schools to benefit from Extended Learning Time (ELT) next school year. With this added investment, BPS will have implemented Schedule A ELT in 57 schools serving over 23,000 students in three years. Adding 40 minutes of additional classroom time will allow our teachers, staff and school leaders more time to address students’ needs and challenges, and build on their strengths.

We should be proud of our successes as a city yet still recognize that there is much more work to be done on behalf of all our students. We must continue to bridge opportunity and achievement gaps to ensure our children are prepared to be the leaders, advocates, entrepreneurs, and innovators of tomorrow. The youth and families of Boston deserve nothing less.