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State Reports 67 Percent of Boston Public Schools Show Improvement, Designates Two ‘Schools of Recognition’
On Tuesday, September 24, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its annual accountability results for schools and districts statewide for 2019, which showed 67 percent of schools in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) demonstrated improvement over last year. Additionally, the state designated two schools in BPS as “schools of recognition” for strong growth on academic performance.
The accountability designation given to BPS as a district is “making substantial progress toward targets.”
The Nathan Hale Elementary School in Roxbury and the Winship Elementary School in Brighton are among 67 schools in Massachusetts to receive the school of recognition designation. It’s the second year in a row that the Winship School has been recognized.
Additionally, the William Channing Elementary School in Hyde Park is exiting broad/comprehensive support, which was previously known as “turnaround status.” The Channing is now classified as “making substantial progress toward targets.” This marks a milestone for the school, which received the underperforming designation in 2013.
“I’m proud of the great strides we’re making to ensure that every school across the district is preparing our students in the best possible way for their bright futures ahead,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “With this good news of more improvements being made, I want to recognize the educators, administrators and support staff in our schools, who we owe a debt of gratitude for the amazing work they do. They go above and beyond to make sure our students receive a high-quality education and are given the greatest opportunity to excel in school.”
“I’m proud of the great strides we’re making to ensure that every school across the district is preparing our students in the best possible way for their bright futures ahead,”
- Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
Last year, the John Winthrop Elementary School in Dorchester exited turnaround status after five years. No additional BPS schools are being designated as in need of broad/comprehensive support.
The accountability results are largely measured by student performance on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam in core subjects such as English language arts, math, and science, and include other factors such as chronic absenteeism and graduation rates.
Fourteen schools in BPS are classified as meeting or exceeding targets over the past year, including the Hale and Winship. The additional schools are:
- Bradley Elementary in East Boston
- Boston Latin Academy in Dorchester
- Boston Latin School in Fenway
- Everett Elementary in Dorchester
- Harvard-Kent Elementary in Charlestown
- Hurley K-8 in South End
- John F. Kennedy in Jamaica Plain
- John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury
- Otis Elementary in East Boston
- Russell Elementary in Dorchester
- Sumner Elementary in Roslindale
- Warren-Prescott K-8 in Charlestown
“The improvements we’re seeing in many of our schools is due to the dedication of our teachers, school staff and community partners who work tirelessly to ensure our students are learning and succeeding,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “I’m proud of their work and look forward to sharing their successes and strategies more broadly across our district.”
The state no longer uses the numeric ranking system that was in place until 2016. DESE places schools into six descending categories:
- Meeting or exceeding targets (14 BPS schools, or 13%)
- Substantial progress toward targets (35 BPS schools, or 34%)
- Moderate progress toward targets (11 BPS schools, or 11%)
- Limited or no progress toward targets (2 BPS schools, or 2%)
- In need of focused/targeted support (34 BPS schools, or 33%)
- In need of broad/comprehensive support (8 BPS schools, or 8%)
Across BPS, students in grades 1-8 overall met achievement targets for English language arts, math, and science, and met the target to reduce chronic absenteeism, while the lowest-performing 25 percent of students exceeded the target for math achievement. In grades 9-12, students exceeded the target graduation rate; met targets for English learner progress, science achievement, and growth in math; and exceeded the target for advanced coursework completion.
The district saw little progress in high school students’ performance on English language arts and math achievement, as well as worsening chronic absenteeism rates, and an increase in the annual dropout rate. In grades 3-8, there was minimal evidence of English learner progress toward English language proficiency.
Thirteen BPS schools did not have sufficient data to calculate an accountability percentile or designation. These schools are primarily early education centers or schools serving specialized populations. Additionally, six schools in BPS are considered Horace Mann Charter Schools whose data is reflected separately from the district.
“While we celebrate the schools making progress today, we must urgently focus our efforts on supporting those in need of more intensive support and attention,” said Cassellius. “We need nothing short of high-quality learning environments where children are learning and thriving in every classroom.”
SCHOOLS OF RECOGNITION
The Hale School in Roxbury and the Winship School in Brighton are two of 67 schools in the state that are designated as “schools of recognition” for their academic accomplishments. These schools are identified for high achievement, high growth, or exceeding targets.
The Winship School’s designation for the second year in a row signifies a turning point for the school, which was designated as a school in the lowest 20 percent statewide in 2016, when the current principal, Mona Ford Walker began in her position. This year, the Winship exceeded all growth targets and all achievement targets in English language arts, math, and science overall as well as for every student group, including those with high needs, economically disadvantaged students, and English learners.
“Ultimately, it’s about making sure our students are coming to school excited and getting a great teaching and learning experience every day,” Ford Walker said. “We have a well-rounded program that includes academics and various specialty offerings that all students have access to, thanks in part to our wonderful community partners. I definitely credit my teachers and staff for making sure we’re doing all we can to ensure all our students are getting exactly what they need.”
The Hale School exceeded all growth targets and all achievement targets in English language arts, math, and science for students overall as well as for the lowest-performing students, English learners, students with high needs, economically disadvantaged students, and Latinx students.
“This is a testimony to the work people are doing in our school every day. After all, there is no ‘I’ in team,” said the Hale School’s principal, Romaine Mills-Teque. “At the Hale, we truly get to know our students and love them for who they are. We meet their needs where they are, we set the bar for having high expectations, and we work every single day to get them there.”
CHANNING SCHOOL EXITS TURNAROUND
The William Channing Elementary School in Hyde Park is exiting its designation of “in need of broad/comprehensive support,” which was previously known as “turnaround.” The Channing is now designated as “making substantial progress toward targets.” This year, the school exceeded the district’s overall performance in math and science and has demonstrated multiple years of strong performance growth across subject areas.
“We’re driven by our moral imperative to make sure our students succeed,” said Carline Pignato, the Channing School’s principal. “Our teachers and staff have worked with families to relentlessly focus on students’ academic and social-emotional needs so they exceed the standards. That’s something our children simply deserve.”
In recent years, the Channing has taken a “whole-child” approach to learning, which includes addressing student’s social-emotional needs and integrating 21st century learning methods such as arts and sciences into the curriculum. The school has also taken a focus on literacy to ensure all students are reading at or above grade level by the third grade. This approach is reinforced by strong engagement with families, including those whose first language is not English, who are encouraged to read with their children and are provided questions to ask at home about their learning.
“Our educators and families work tirelessly and passionately everyday to make sure our students are making progress,” added Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “We’re energized by schools with improved performance and will continue our focus on elevating schools in need of stronger outcomes.”
To review the accountability data, please read the accountability report on the DESE website.