With more than 60% of Boston schools underperforming, children in Boston are far more likely to fall behind academically than their peers statewide. Some kids are lucky enough to be placed in one of the few public schools that meets their needs, but the education the vast majority of Boston children receive is far from adequate. As a result, too many of our children are not getting the education they deserve.
In many cases, kids are entering school already behind since they don’t have access to early education. In fact, there are only 2,400 pre-K seats available each year to serve the entire Boston population, leaving thousands of kids on wait lists. Additionally, when students enter elementary school, they’re not getting enough learning time, as Boston Public Schools has one of the shortest school days in the country. Children in Boston only receive 5.5 hours of instruction each day, and schools are at risk of losing the ability to continue using the very turnaround strategies and tools that have resulted in improved student outcomes.
Springfield and Holyoke
In Springfield, where all of the city’s middle schools have been designated as Level 4 underperforming schools by the state, we are currently in the process of conducting a gap analysis of the turnaround plans for middle schools in Springfield, focusing on literacy, early warning indicators, and ninth grade on-track strategies. Through this analysis, we will discern one or two key policy objectives for our Springfield teams. We are also hosting parent forums and building parent working groups at the schools in the Empowerment Zone, and engaging in quarterly strategy meetings with the Superintendent and bi-weekly strategy meetings with Empower Schools on behalf of the Empowerment Zone.
As the Holyoke school district moves forward under the state receivership, Stand hopes to combat the pervasive low levels of parent involvement that have plagued the district, especially because with such low reading proficiency and high drop-out rates, there is a distinct need for increased parent engagement to advocate for improved opportunities for students. We are currently engaged in strategic conversations with the Commissioner and Secretary of Education to determine how best to target parent engagement in Holyoke to support the changes that will come under the receivership.