2015 Compact between the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, Boston Charter Alliance and Archdiocese of Boston
Four years ago, we signed our first compact with the intent to put the needs of all students before the needs of any school and to inaugurate a culture of collaboration. We pledged to add value to the families of Boston as well as to address difficult operational challenges. Then, as now, we recognized that neither the district, charter nor Catholic schools were adequately preparing all students for success in post-secondary education, career and civic life.
We have found that we are better at meeting the needs of students and families across the City when we work together. Our teachers and leaders have identified and implemented effective strategies ranging from teaching particular Algebra skills to students with disabilities to providing English language learners with rigorous curricula and helping families navigate multiple enrollment systems by providing information in one place. By sharing information and engaging collaboratively, we have shifted charter school drop-off times and saved the Boston Public Schools over $1m/year in transportation costs. Both BPS and Catholic schools have leased buildings to charter schools, providing those communities with greater stability and the systems with new revenue for underutilized space. Most importantly in the Compact’s first phase, we created venues in which educators and administrators got to know one another, recognized shared values and challenges, and built strong working relationships. Numerous Compact successes were “invisible” – they were conflicts avoided because we communicated directly with one another and found shared solutions.
While proud of our accomplishments, the need for bolder cultural and systemic change is clear to us. Collectively, our schools are not adequately preparing our English language learners, students with disabilities and Black and Latino boys to thrive as adults. We still demand too much of families in trying to determine and enroll in the best-fit schools for their children. Our students deserve more high-quality teachers of color that reflect the demographics of our racially and linguistically diverse City. We all know that students, families and educators would be better served if we could redirect funding and energy focused on transportation and facilities to classroom instruction.
Today, we celebrate the progress we have made and recommit to Boston’s children and families. We pledge to build upon the strong foundation of cross-sector relationships we have built and leverage it to continue shifting the culture in our City to one of collaboration.
The Boston Compact envisions our City as one in which every student attends a school that provides him/her with effective, high quality and responsive instruction tailored to his/her individual assets, talents and needs. Through a diverse and coordinated portfolio of schools, we envision each student graduating from high school prepared for post-secondary education and career success.
We believe that the district, charter and Catholic schools in Boston should add up to more than the sum of their parts. Working together with the Mayor, we will engage our respective students, families and educators in building a portfolio of diverse and effective schools.
We remain convinced that schools are the unit of change in improving academic and social outcomes for students across the City. Therefore, we will deepen our partnership to provide families with an array of school choice and educators with professional support at all stages of their careers.
We recognize Boston’s exceptional history and potential for driving improvement in our own schools. Our theory of action holds that by building relationships, collaboratively setting goals and working towards them, we will shift the culture of education in Boston to one that draws upon – and enhances – the strengths of our portfolio of schools and enables us to have significant impact tackling barriers.
Our renewed Compact will help address three barriers to student achievement: opportunity and achievement gaps, shortage of school quality, and lack of family-friendly, equitable systems. We have outlined four goals for the next three years:
Goal I: Establish Collective Responsibility for Closing Opportunity and Achievement Gaps
- Enhance capacity of all schools to serve students with disabilities, English language learners, and Black and Latino boys
- Analyze student data regarding subgroup engagement, growth and performance to identify school sites or classrooms with potentially promising practices
- Engage teachers and administrators in exploring, sharing and scaling effective practices for historically underserved populations
- Track and share cross-sector school collaborations in the City of Boston
Goal II: Increase the Number of High Quality Schools and the Number of Students Educated in High Quality Schools
- Adopt a shared language and theory of change developed by principals in conversation with the Mayor
- Build strong teacher relationships across schools and sectors to facilitate the sharing of information and effective practices
- Work to ensure that the student population is reflected in the diversity of school staff
- Participate in the Mayor’s effort for high quality, Universal Pre-K across the City and in each sector
Goal III: Develop Family-Friendly, Equitable Systems to Access High Quality Schools Close-to-Home
- Provide families with more quality schools close to home and continuously improve the enrollment process
- Build consensus for a common set of measures that are publicly and readily available to families as they determine the appropriate schools for their particular children
- Pilot cross-sector family engagements to help ensure practices and systems are equitable and effective
- Host an annual tri-sector showcase of high schools to reduce the effort required to explore all high school options
Goal IV: Reorient to a Citywide, Coordinated Portfolio Planning Process
- Collect and jointly analyze data about community education needs and desires, including current and projected student enrollment demographics by neighborhood
- Consider all three sectors in transportation, facilities, school siting and grade configuration plans
- Develop a system for sharing student records when students migrate between sectors
We will have met our goals when every student in every neighborhood can access and attend a school that prepares them for post-secondary education and career success in a way that meets their individual needs and assets. While this is a subjective goal, we have several key indicators of success:
- A citywide improvement in measures adopted by the Boston Opportunity Agenda and shared in annual report cards, such as third-grade reading proficiency, high school completion and post-secondary enrollment and degree attainment
- An increase in the number of schools that close gaps and improve outcomes for historically underserved groups including English language learners, students with disabilities, and Black and Latino boys, as documented by the Boston Opportunity Agenda in annual report cards beginning with the January 2017 edition
- A decrease in the effort required to enroll a student in an appropriate school, an increase in families’ satisfaction determining the best school fit for their children and reduction in migration between schools each fall
We will review our collective progress annually in three manners: The Steering Committee will engage in an internal review; Compact leaders will update the Boston School Committee, Commonwealth Charter School Boards of Directors and the Catholic School Superintendent; and, the Boston Opportunity Agenda will release citywide data publicly.
City of Boston Commitments
- Provide public leadership for thinking holistically about PreK-12 education in Boston
- Serve as a public champion of the Boston Compact
- Ensure that the Mayor’s delegate has time for monthly meetings with Compact leaders and staff
- Dedicate staff resources to helping design and implement shared systems and policies
School and LEA Commitments
- Communicate a vision of high expectations—including post-secondary (college or vocational) readiness, enrollment and completion—for all student groups and individuals
- Share racial/ethnic, cultural, linguistic and special needs population data with your own school faculty by sharing disaggregated data about and discussing supports for these specific groups
- Adopt official state or comparable standards that share academic standards and the assessment system that aligns with them
- Share demographic analysis of existing and projected enrollment by neighborhood, grade and level of need with its Compact partners while transitioning to a citywide database
- Publicly champion the Boston Compact and be transparent with the Compact partners about growth feedback
- Promote your own school(s) without disparaging other Compact partners
- Address emergent cross-sector challenges through direct communication with sector leaders or through the Compact
- Support the collaboration with an annual contribution of $10,000 for infrastructure from each sector
- Adopt a citywide, portfolio vision of Boston schools that positions the three sectors as partners in PreK-12 education.
Opportunities for Deeper Engagement
In addition to the requirements above, fully engaged schools also will:
- Invite teachers to visit schools in other sectors as a professional development option
- Encourage principals to participate in the cross-sector neighborhood network groups
- Appoint and ensure consistent senior management staff to lead work. Senior management will see that there is school-based educator participation and consistent staff to ensure smooth implementation of each effort.
- Share student-level (with a signed non-disclosure agreement) and aggregate data about student growth, achievement and experience at school with its Compact partners and aggregate data with the broader community