Homework for the Next Superintendent

49 schools require assistance or intervention, what are the next steps?

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently released the results of the next generation school accountability system.  Forty-nine Boston schools are classified as requiring assistance or intervention, but Boston as a whole is partially meeting targets.  Boston currently operates 125 schools, of which 101 received an accountability classification in 2018.   The new accountability system gives the next Superintendent data to identify schools in need of improvement and determine the next steps to elevate these students.

BPS by Accountability Classifications
Classification # of Schools % of Schools Enrollment % of
Schools Not Requiring Assistance or Intervention
Schools of Recognition 2 2.0% 346 0.7%
Meeting Targets 21 20.8% 11,114 22.9%
Partially Meeting Targets 29 28.7% 13,128 27.1%
Schools Requiring Assistance or Intervention
In Need of Focused Support * 40 39.6% 19,307 39.8%
In Need of Broad Support 9 8.9% 4,559 9.4%
Total ** 101 100.0% 48,454 100.0%

* 10 of the 40 are due to low assessment participation

** The report excludes in-district charter schools, schools that provide adult education, early education, and schools with insufficient data.

The 49 Boston Public Schools (BPS), classified as requiring assistance or intervention, enroll 23,866 students or 49.3% of the total BPS students attending the 101 classified schools in the report.  By comparison, 15.8% of schools statewide require assistance or intervention, representing 15.2% of enrollment. There are two shining lights for Boston, the Joseph P. Manning School and the Winship Elementary School, two out of just 52 schools statewide receiving the designation of schools of recognition for high growth or achievement.

The new indicators are:

  • Progress toward English proficiency for English learners
  • Chronic absenteeism
  • Extended engagement – students in high school past five years
  • Advanced coursework completion

The New Indicators – BPS did not meet targets on three of the four new indicators — ELL progress, chronic absenteeism and advanced coursework.  Boston showed improvement on existing indicators: MCAS performance and graduation rates.  Despite positive changes, improvement on the new indicators is needed.   DESE recently proposed minor changes to the accountability system and a Board of Education vote on the proposed changes is anticipated in June.

The new system maintains the same base indicators, including MCAS performance and graduation rates, and adds new indicators that account for 27% or less of the total indicator weight. The system increases focus on improving achievement for the lowest performing students.

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