By Tommy Chang
When we started the 2015-2016 school year, we set out to work as a team. A school year full of victories and challenges is drawing to a close and we feel an incredible sense of purpose for the work that lies ahead. We are focused on building a better Boston Public Schools.
Teachers, principals, and staff: we appreciate you for living out the vision of creating safe, respectful, and enjoyable experiences for our students as they learn to become engaged members of society. Our students want to be you one day, with your access to resources and knowledge. Thank you for preparing them to be critical thinkers and resilient students.
To all the many friends of BPS, you have my gratitude for collaborating with us in service of our students. Thank you, Mayor Walsh, for your partnership and involvement in our schools and with our students. All members of the BPS community bring such incredible energy to the district, and we are fortunate to have such passionate and active educators and community partners involved in our important work.
Parents, thank you for entrusting us with the enormous responsibility of educating your children and preparing them for the best possible outcomes in college, career, and in life.
Most of all, to our students: you have such incredible talent and dedication seen both inside and outside of the classroom; continue to forge ahead. The city of Boston, the nation, and the world are relying on you to become future leaders in whichever fields you find yourselves to be most passionate. We believe in you and will always support you.
We are proud of all of our bright spots this year, including:
- Last fall, we learned that many of our 10th graders scored higher on the MCAS and that our 4th graders made significant gains in reading.
- Students worked alongside business leaders to donate and package 8,000 winter coats for those in need.
- Dr. Amalio Nieves filled the first-ever cabinet level position dedicated to social emotional learning and wellness in the nation.
- Dr. Colin Rose filled a cabinet level position committed to closing the achievement gap and is heavily involved with the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
- First-ever series of multi-cultural community-based forums were hosted by BPS.
- Several schools achieved significant improvement in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) 2015 accountability results.
- The district’s graduation rate for the class of 2015 achieved a historic increase, rising four percentage points from the previous year to reach an all-time high of 70.7 percent.
- General Electric generously donated $25 million to our district to boost STEM and professional development opportunities for our students and staff.
- Nearly 3,300 students received diplomas in recent weeks, and roughly another 250 will be obtaining their diplomas in August. We celebrated 37 high school valedictorians; many who came from across the globe to live in Boston and learn in BPS. I wish you well in the next phase of your life.
The BPS leadership team created and shared our Strategic Implementation Plan, which allowed us to identify bright spots in our system and areas for growth. It is guided by three values: equity, coherence, and innovation. You can learn more about this plan at http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/domain/2119. Please know that your feedback is welcome! Send comments to [email protected].
Despite all that we have faced, we remain committed to boosting student success and creating a strong and equitable system of which the Boston community can be proud. Each of you has made a difference this year. I hope you have a chance to rest and recharge this summer. I look forward to your return.
We embarked on this year together as a team to deliver academic rigor and celebrate the diverse culture of BPS. We cannot build a better Boston without each and every one of us contributing our best for all students. Thank you for being our partner in this life-changing work.
Tommy Chang is the current Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools.