By Superintendent Tommy Chang
As we begin a new year, I would like to express my gratitude for all of you. You - our families, teachers, school leaders, staff, and community partners - are dedicated to our students’ success. I continue to be humbly honored to serve alongside you. As we continue to strengthen opportunities and experiences for our students so they can become strong leaders for Boston and the rest of the world, I would like to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come in the past year.
With support from Mayor Martin J. Walsh and additional funding from the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools (BPS) will invest $14 million in the 2017-18 school year to allow more than 15,000 additional students in 39 schools to benefit from Extended Learning Time (ELT). With this added investment, BPS will have implemented Schedule A ELT in 57 schools serving more than 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 made strategic investments in our current budget that allowed us to continue expanding our nationally recognized early education programming. This past school year, we added 216 additional pre-K seats at five schools, including a total of 42 seats at two East Boston Schools. The Mario Umana Academy is paving the way by offering the first dual language K1 (pre-K) class in East Boston. The percentage of English Learners (ELs) making progress toward proficiency in English has climbed from 46 percent in the 2013-14 school year to 61 percent in 2015-16. During the English Language Summer Instructional Program, 300 EL participants reached 45 percent growth in reading proficiency.
In the fall, 12 schools rose to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’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.
BPS continues its commitment to increasing equity and access to quality learning experiences for all students. The work of the Office of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps has positively impacted BPS in many ways, such as the launch of Excellence for all, an initiative that encourages students to engage in deep learning and develop key critical thinking skills, and the rolling out of a district-wide speaker series to address issues of racism and discrimination.
We are working together to create stronger schools for a stronger Boston. All of our work is guided by equity, coherence, and innovation as we build on the strengths of our schools. These are just a few of the accomplishments our community has to celebrate. Thank you for your continued partnership as we prepare all of our students for success.
Happy New Year!
- Superintendent Tommy Chang