The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today formally blasted Boston Public Schools, saying they need "immediate improvement," especially in the ways the system deals with special-education and ESL students and transportation and with the fact its central administration is pretty dysfunctional.
The department's board tomorrow could consider putting BPS into receivership, even though the state review came a year earlier than specified in a 2020 "memorandum of understanding," at a meeting that starts at 9:30 a.m. at the McCormack State Office Building downtown. The meeting will be livestreamed online.
BPS has shown little to no progress in addressing the needs of its students with disabilities, English learners, and students at the district’s lowest-performing schools, resulting in continued poor outcomes for tens of thousands of students. Persistent challenges in these areas have been exacerbated by significant leadership turnover in the district’s special education and English learner departments.
The report was not completely negative:
Strong teacher diversification pipeline programs, initial improvements to English learner services, enhanced professional development offerings, and more consistent use of growth assessments across the district were also identified as strengths.
Finally, there is some evidence that the district is beginning to use its considerable one-time funding to directly support student needs, such as funding the district's Quality Guarantee, which has provided enhanced staffing to underperforming schools. The district is also beginning to make some headway in much-needed facilities repairs, renovations, and upgrades.
The superintendent effectively led these initiatives, despite challenges in managing a central office with entrenched dysfunction. They represent real progress over a short period of time and in some cases may lay the groundwork for transformative change within BPS. However, ongoing work in these areas is in early stages of implementation and remains highly vulnerable to disruption.
Complete report (188 pages, 2.5M PDF).
Critique of the report: It seriously undervalues the good teaching happening in BPS.
WBUR: State report rips Boston Schools, demands 'bold' response.