In a bit of a departure, I’m pleased with something BPS is doing

I know that this is way off brand for me but I’m excited about the expanded AWC proposal.

One of the most corrosive problems in Boston Public Schools has been the achievement gap for Black and Latino males. Superintendent Chang made expanding Advanced Work Class a priority in his 100 day plan as a means of addressing this.

Currently, kids take a test in the 3rd grade and then are invited into the program based on test scores. Not everyone who tests in takes a spot. It sometimes involves changing schools and many families do not want the disruption.

My son is currently in advanced work, and I have mixed feelings about the program. But what I like about is that he reads novel after novel, and his education is project based. This is because teachers in advanced work are given a certain amount freedom to craft the curriculum.

The expanded AWC plan, as I understand it, is this:

  1. Leave the current AWC program as is
  2. Test pilot expanded AWC classes in 5-10 pilot schools where the AWC curriculum and expectations are pushed into a general education classroom
  3. Review piloted classes after 1 year to see what effect they had closing the achievement gap

You know, I’m always complaining about what BPS is up to. But honestly, I think this is a pretty good plan. By piloting this in the general education classroom BPS will be able to see what did and didn’t work and adjust accordingly before expanding it across the district.

Now here is my concern. I am genuinely worried about how this overlays with the recommendations of the McKinsey report. Because if your overall aim is to save money for the district, and you start cutting staff, and you stream children out of their sub separate classrooms into the general ed classroom, at the same time you are pushing in AWC, you are going to end up with an instructor who is being pulled like a wishbone.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t differentiate in the classroom and cut staff and increase class sizes. A differentiated learning environment requires individualized attention.

So this is my charge to the superintendent and the mayor. Make this work. IMG_3106Make AWC for all a reality. Make inclusion a reality. Find the money. BPS needs this. Our students need this. Boston needs this.

Put those teachers in the excess pool back into the classroom so that there are at least two teachers in every class. That is how this will work.

We can do this. Our students can do this. But we need you to put the resources in place so that this is set up to succeed.

You can view the entire proposal here: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/cms/lib07/MA01906464/Centricity/Domain/1898/AWCexpansion121515.pdf 

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