Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More BPS teachers get National Board Certification

Seven more BPS teachers now wear the official "National Board for Professional Teaching Standards" pin! According to the organization, teachers who achieve National Board certification have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and a peer review.

This means we now have 45 national board-certified teachers in BPS.

The teachers who earned the certification on December 14 are: Cara Fenner at Excel High School; Kelly Garofalo, Karen McCarthy and Robert Remetti at Brighton High School; Carla McCormack at Edwards Middle School; Adam Moore, formerly of Perkins Elementary School; and Jeffrey Timberlake at Boston Teachers Union School. In addition, Whitney Weeder at the East Boston EEC renewed her certification.

Congratulations to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

BPS family and student engagement gets kudos in new Harvard report

Our Office of Family and Student Engagement has just earned a spot in a nationally-recognized Harvard study! Heather Weiss, M. Elena Lopez and Heidi Rosenberg of the Harvard Family Research Project looked at how BPS helps parents develop the tools they need to become partners in the education of their children.
The report, called "Beyond Random Acts: Family, School and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform," notes that BPS "promotes family engagement as a strategy to improve student outcomes through increased attendance, decreased suspension rates, and other indicators linked to student achievement."
One exciting element of the work BPS Assistant Superintendent Michele Brooks and her team have undertaken this year is the launch of a fleet of Family Learning Guides that help teachers and parents understand the expectations that are set for students in every grade and in every class.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Teens in Print' tackles tough issues

The latest "Teens in Print" newspaper has hit the streets and it's full of powerful articles written by BPS students. This edition explores the history of (and recent obsession with) vampires. It also contains emotional accounts of the effect that violence can have on teenagers in our city -- and how our schools have helped students cope with the pain of losing a close friend. Another article covers the debate over school uniforms, and on page 9, readers will find stirring accounts of how our students and schools value equality and diversity.

T.i.P is a citywide paper written by -- and for -- high school students, in partnership with Artists for Humanity, WriteBoston, the National Scholastic Press Association, the High School Journalism Initiative and the Boston Globe.

This week, 850,000 copies of Teens In Print are being distributed throughout our city. If you see one, please pick it up and take a few minutes to read it -- or visit right now. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Global study names BPS one of the 'most improved school systems in the world'

A new study from the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has named BPS one of the 20 "most improved school systems" in the world -- and just two of these school systems were in the United States (the other was Long Beach Union School District in California).

How did they pick Boston? According to the authors, the study searched for school districts that had sustained, major improvements since 1980. The 1994 Education Reform legislation and the launch of the MCAS in 1998 helped identify Massachusetts as an innovator in public education, and Boston in particular was positioned for meaningful success. The study cites the creation of the MyBPS student data system as a particularly powerful tool that has helped link teachers with critical information that can help them target lessons around individual students. (Our new, next-generation student information system is in development right now and will launch next year).

The study applauds BPS for taking bold steps to lift the number of students passing state math exams from 23 percent in 1998 to 84 percent in 2008. In reading, the passing rate jumped from 43 percent in 1998 to 91 percent in 2008.

The challenge for us now, the report says, is that BPS risks reaching a plateau. To break through it, McKinsey suggests we look to Singapore, which has "moved from rigid prescription to greater flexibility as it embarked on its good to great improvement journey."

The full report provides an unusually crisp, long-term look at education reform across the entire planet. You can read it here.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Urban Science Academy students publish first school paper

by Justin Milligan
Humanities & Journalism
Urban Science Academy

Journalism students at Urban Science Academy in West Roxbury have just published their first issue of USA Voice, the school newspaper. Their first issue was a great success and the result of much hard work and dedication. Since September, students have been studying various aspects of journalism -- the role of free press in a democracy, the ideal for objectivity, ethical considerations, media literacy skills, and various forms of news writing. Then, they went out in the community as reporters to investigate issues they felt to be relevant to the school. The staff was responsible for researching topics, conducting interviews, verifying information, peer editing drafts, and assisting in the layout and binding process. They also collaborated with Digital Photography and Yearbook students to capture images for their articles.

The first issue of USA voice covers an array of topics. For the cover story, Laurie Paris explains "Redesign and Reinvest" and its potential repercussions for our complex. In a well-researched article, Gladys Cooper investigates the increasing rate of violent crime in Boston. Sade Love interviews students and faculty about whether teens should be provided condoms to promote safe sex. Dan Carpino reports on cyberbullying and the dangers of social networking. Veteran reporter Diana Maria Rodriguez discusses the challenges that confront teenage parents. Nathalie Myrthil explains the college application process, as well as the academic history of girls outperforming boys at USA. Chris Legrand investigates high dropout rates in Boston Public, and Anthony McGruder questions whether marijuana should remain illegal. The issue also contains entertainment reviews-- Chelsea Rush gives the film Red two thumbs up, and Akeema Charles gives a five-star recommendation for Drake's new album. Finally, Haajar Penn recounts the West Roxbury Raiders' impressive 2010 football season.