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Determined to Close Opportunity and Achievement Gaps

By Dr. Colin Rose, Assistant Superintendent for Opportunity and Achievement Gaps

 

As the Assistant Superintendent for Opportunity and Achievement Gaps of the Office of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps (OAG) for the Boston Public Schools (BPS), I work to eliminate cultural and structural barriers and promote culturally affirming practices for student populations who have been marginalized, helping to create the opportunities needed for achievement.


In addition to expanding the OAG office during my initial year as the assistant superintendent, I have focused on: 1) helping to create the BPS Opportunity and Achievement Gap Policy, 2) authoring the districts culturally and linguistically sustaining practices (CLSP) competencies and rubric, 3) founding of the MBK Success Mentors pilot directed at providing one-on-one mentorship to chronically absent students, 4) reforming/expanding of the BPS Exam School Initiative, and 5) collaborating with the BPS ASSET team to create the instructional vision for the district.
 
Photo of Colin Rose
 
Earlier on, I spent 10 years as an educator in Roxbury and was a member of numerous citywide initiatives including working groups tasked to bridge the district’s alignment to the Common Core, coordinating Acceleration Academies, serving on the Extended Learning Time Taskforce, and was a member of the Male Educator of Color (MEOC).

The Office of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps (OOAG) embarked on many exciting pieces of work in 2016. The Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Policy was finalized June and was approved by school committee in July. This policy gives recommendations to BPS for key areas of focus aimed at the elimination of opportunity and achievement gaps for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English Language Learners and students with disabilities in BPS. OOAG has begun the process of creating an implementation plan for the policy, partnering with all offices within BPS as well as the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force to create SMART goals based on the objectives of the policy.

The office has also been influential in promoting Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP) as a focal point of the district. This is our form of cultural proficiency with an emphasis on creating environments that helps sustain the cultural assets that students, families and communities bring to BPS. Professional development for leadership has rolled out across the district this year centering on the awareness of bias and bias based practices. This foundational work with leadership will move to schools and district offices starting next school year. In addition to the work we have started with leadership, we have supported multiples schools and individuals to begin to dig deeper into CLSP. We have partnered with Wheelock College and their Culture, Self and Teaching Course, have supported multiple customized school-based staff PDs, and created a mini-grant program that allows schools to start or continue targeted initiatives around marginalized populations. This program has been able to support work ranging from race dialogues within school communities to culturally responsive curriculum development. Furthermore, cross-departmental efforts have begun to align priority standards from the teacher and principal evaluation rubric to reflect CLSP.

Last year, we were able to collaborate with so many other programs. Success Mentor, a program that creates one-on-one mentoring relationships for chronically absent students, started with three schools in the Spring and has expanded to five more schools this fall with the support of Johns Hopkins University and Mass Mentors. We have also restarted the 10-Boys program, which focuses on academic rigor, physical challenges, tutoring, real talk spaces, and community service learning for boys and young men of color. The program has been bolstered by the creation of standards aligned curriculum (both common core and SEL) and professional development focused on rights of passage. The office has also partnered with practitioners to initiate the creation of the 10-Girls program with curriculum support coming in the near future.

Finally, Excellence for All (EFA) has targeted 4th grade students in 13 BPS school to increase the rigor of instruction as well as the supports needed for every student to thrive. The demographics of EFA closely match our racial, linguistic, and economic diversity within the district. Beyond rigor, EFA focuses on social-emotional learning, executive functioning, quality enrichments, and personalized supports.

We’re always looking for opportunities to collaborate with students, family, and members of the community. Please do not hesitate to reach us by emailing rc009@bostonpublicschools.org to get involved or learn more about our initiatives.