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External Advisory Committee on School Choice Presentation

The External Advisory Committee on School Choice (EAC) has completed their one-year community input process to identify a new school choice assignment system for Boston Public Schools.  On Feb 4, 2013 the EAC will present the 'best of the best' models for final consideration.  The plan implemented will provide parents school choices that are fairer and more predictable than the current system and it will help the City to build stronger communities. Orchard Gardens

Monday, February 4 at 6pm
Orchard Gardens K-8 School
906 Albany St., Roxbury

The External Advisory Committee (EAC) on School Choice invites the community to an update on Monday, February 4 at 6pm at Orchard Gardens K-8 School, 906 Albany St., Roxbury.

BPS will present the latest options for a new school assignment system and the EAC will invite public comment. To learn more and to get involved, visit bostonschoolchoice.org.

Boston Public School Improvements

Ultimately, the development of a new student assignment process is a conversation about quality – and the urgent need to make every public school a great choice.

According to Mayor Menino, "When I took office (November 1993), just one in four high school students earned a passing grade on statewide mathematics tests. Today, thanks to the hard work of teachers, students and families, much has changed."
  • 86% pass statewide mathetmatics tests on their first attempt
  • 94% of today’s parents (survey Spring 2012) say their school is a great place for their child to learn

Superintendent Carol R. Johnson and the Boston School Committee have
  • Doubled the number of students participating in summer learning programs
  • Trained thousands of teachers to help students learn English
  • Added weekly arts and music for 14,000 students
  • Created new tools for students to give feedback to their own teachers

Current Three-Zone System Inadequate

For nearly 25 years, the City of Boston's school system was split into what Mayor Menino calls "three sprawling student assignment zones - North, East and West."  What this caused (he says) is "a bewildering set of options with no assurance they [the families] will get what they asked for. Too often, children are sent to schools far from home because we couldn’t give them what they wanted. Many families avoid the process altogether."

Furthermore, the Boston School system has relied on the three-zone system to adjust for changes in population and students with specific disabilities or language deficits were often located far from where they lived.

Despite the dramatic improvement over the years that Mayor Menino has been in office, the existing school assignment process still had too many issues and needed to be changed.

External Advisory Committee on School Choice

One year ago, Mayor Menino appointed the External Advisory Committee on School Choice.  The process they put in place
  1. Focused on a "smart and honest look at school quality"
  2. Created a transparent community involvement process
This week, the EAC will be updating the public on the 'best of the best" models.  (View at bostonschoolchoice.org)

All potential school choice models are based on public input.  More than four thousand voices at more than 50 community meetings in the last year chimed in, including experts from MIT, Harvard, Boston College and other institutions.

Mayor Menino is very supportive of the outcome of the EAC process with the options generated providing school choices that are fairer and more predictable than the current system.  Parents can now get involved much earlier, meet the principal and teachers, and ‘go deep’ with the school community before deciding which schools to pick.
On a more global scale, with a more stable community-based set of school options, predictable to families years in advance of the need, the new school choice systems would help the City to build stronger communities.

Whatever plan is implemented, the result will be a new approach to student assignment, one that emphasizes:
  • Quality choices
  • Long-term predictability for familieis
  • Great schools closer to home

Strategy 1

Create ten community-based zones, designed to offer a balance of quality choices no matter where a child lives.
Advantages:  Provide families many options including ones they are familiar with.

Strategy 2

Other options are based on an address-based system with no zones, which tailors school choices tor each individual student.
Advantages:   High quality school choices will be available for every child - some close to home and others further away.

Closing Comments from Mayor Menino

"Over the last year I have watched as an extraordinary public process has played out. With your support, in the coming weeks we will achieve meaningful education reforms that will benefit an entire generation of students and the broader community. Our students stand to benefit greatly from this shared effort.

Today, I am asking for your support as we take yet another important step our children deserve. Today I am asking for your help so we can move forward together.


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Posted: January 22, 2013     Nancy J Conrad

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