The Boston Foundation has released an illuminating report called Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card. There is a lot of data crammed in that PDF. My head hurts. I will say I learned quite a bit about Boston’s demographics and the challenges facing the school system, including nearly 50% of households where English isn’t the primary language spoken, a declining number of children in the city, and white flight.
They note that there has been little progress for several important indicators in the past five years, such as third graders being able to read at grade level.
One of the risk factors they mentioned was student mobility. I had seen the student mobility stats on schools’ individual report cards, but I didn’t know specifically what they meant. The mobility rate is the transfers in and out as a percentage of total enrollment. Makes sense. K-8 schools had a much lower mobility rate than K-5 or 6-8 schools. Pilot schools had the lowest mobility rate at 9.4%. If you don’t have kids moving in and out all the time, you’re likely to have a more stable school community.
If you don’t have time to read the whole report -- Lord knows I don’t -- there is a very handy spreadsheet appendix that lists every BPS school and their school characteristics, student support, risk factors, MCAS scores, amenities (e.g., library, renovated school yards, students per computer). My earlier link to the appendix didn't work, so my advice is to go to this press release and click on the hyperlink "comprehensive data" in the fifth paragraph.
Here was a little nugget -- in a section of the report where they discuss the school system's $76 million transportation budget, they note that the school system could save money if schools improved throughout the city and parents opted for schools closer to their homes. "As the BPS increases school quality and expands the range of choice in every part of the City, it may be time to market quality schools close to home." The superintendent tried to do this this year by increasing the walk zone preference from 50% to 60% but she was met with resistance, so it stayed at 50%. I doubt this subject is closed.
The report lists the schools that made Annual Year Progress in total or for subgroups in the 2007 MCAS in English Language Arts and Math. The West Zone schools on the list include Beethoven, Philbrick, Bates, Kilmer, and Hernandez.
The report also gives a quick overview of Superintendent Carol Johnson’s Pathways to Excellence plan and Acceleration Agenda, if you’re not familiar with those.