Why the Time is Right

BPS is a national leader in school improvement. We are proud to be one of the 20 most improved school districts in the world. In August, the Council of the Great City Schools called BPS “the only big-city school district to have actually caught up with the nation in any grade or subject after having started significantly below it.”

Today’s student assignment system was created in 1988. In the generation since, our city has changed and school quality has improved. Our Acceleration Agenda has helped our schools become better than ever, with great teachers, new investments in arts and athletics, facilities upgrades, and academic transformations for students at every level of need.

Our three zones are no longer the same. People might think the current three zones split the city equally, but after nearly 25 years in place, that’s not the case. Thirteen percent of elementary school students in the West Zone and 14 percent in the East Zone attend their walk zone school, but 22 percent of students in the North Zone do.

We have expanded schools that are working well and closed schools that weren’t successful. We have added early education opportunities and are turning around struggling schools across the city.

The demographics of our city have also changed. In the East Zone, 50 percent of students in grades K through 8 are Black, 9 percent are white, 9 percent are Asian and 30 percent are Hispanic or Latino. In the North Zone, 20 percent are Black, 13 percent are white, 10 percent are Asian and 54 percent are Hispanic or Latino. In the West Zone, 34 percent of K through 8th grade students are Black, 17 percent are white, three percent are Asian and 44 percent are Hispanic or Latino.

Our school choice system is hard for many parents to navigate. We have heard from you that the lottery process can be improved, and our system can make it difficult for families to carpool, share homework help, visit their teachers and attend student performances.

An improved system can preserve choice, equity and opportunity while strengthening our community’s ability to support all public schools.

Together, we are strengthening our schools:

  • Graduation rates have jumped 9 percent since 2007 and are at the highest level ever recorded in Boston
  • We have lowered the drop-out rate by 36 percent since 2007
  • A 14 percent increase in the number of students able to read by the end of first grade
  • New legislation and funding helped us intervene in our 11 Turnaround Schools by extending school days, increasing teacher supports and adding resources in classrooms
  • We opened In-District Charter Schools and Innovation Schools under new leadership to improve academics and student performance, with more on the way
  • Today 89% of elementary/middle school students have weekly arts and music experiences, up from 67% just three years ago as part of the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative. We have also doubled the number of high school students with access to regular arts and music
  • Major shift in our budget formula ensures resources follow students based on their needs and no matter what school they attend
  • We have grown our successful early education (K1) program from 350 seats in 2004 to 2,100 today with expansions underway inside the Circle of Promise
  • Three years ago, few non-exam schools offered Algebra I in Grade 8. Today, we offer it in every middle school and the number of 8th graders taking Algebra I has increased by a factor of seven
  • Nearly one-third of our students are in the process of learning English, so we have invested heavily in teacher professional development and targeted instruction. We have hired liaisons to guide families through the enrollment and instruction process and trained 2,277 teachers to help English Language Learners in 2010
  • Today we offer more opportunities for inclusive settings and services, improved academic programs, schools closer to home and fewer transitions for the 20 percent of BPS students who have disabilities
  • 84 percent of BPS students pass the 10th grade Mathematics MCAS on their first attempt, up from 25 percent in 1998
  • More K-8 Schools: In 1995, there were three. By 2004 we had lifted the number to 14 and today, thanks to high demand, we have created 25 K-8 schools throughout the city.
  • More pathways: Created guaranteed assignments such as the Roslindale K-8 Pathway and Lee Academy/Joseph Lee School
  • More local choices: In 2004, just 26% of elementary/middle schools had at least half of their students living inside their walk-zones (nearby neighborhoods). Today, 72% of elementary/middle schools meet this benchmark
  • Sibling preference: Changes to our assignment system help brothers and sisters attend the same school
  • Expanding great choices: Four thousand students have moved into higher-performing schools through our closures and expansions. Thousands more attend our Turnaround Schools, In-District Charters and Innovation Schools, which restructured academic programs around the students already attending the school