BOSTON -- At Thanksgiving, Boston's most severely disabled students and their families have a special place to give thanks. It's a place that many say has transformed their lives: the Carter School.
Carter students come with extreme physical, developmental and mental conditions. And their families are eager to give thanks for the school that celebrates what students can do, rather than focusing on what they can't.
So, every year, the school holds a potluck Thanksgiving feast for its 25 students, their families and their friends. For those with limited mobility and no access to specialized transportation, it may be the only Thanksgiving dinner they'll be able to attend.
"Our students are thought to be kind of the 1 percent of individuals in our city with disabilities," says Carter principal Mark O'Connor.
One percent meaning the most severely disabled students in Boston's public school system. All but two use wheelchairs all the time. Most cannot operate them on their own. Few have advanced language skills; many can't speak at all. Read More →
By Chad d’Entremont, Ph.D
Preparing today’s students for life after graduation must extend beyond academics. In an ever-changing global economy, employers want workers who can think critically, solve problems and adapt quickly. As more and more jobs become automated, ones that require both technical and interpersonal skills are still in demand.
Teaching our students reading, writing and arithmetic simply is not enough anymore -- they need to learn persistence, patience and compassion too.
A growing body of evidence points to the importance of teaching children how to manage their emotions and behaviors. Known as social and emotional learning (SEL), the development of these noncognitive skills, like self-motivation and grit, is linked to better academic performance, higher college retention rates and increased employment and wages. These abilities lead to improved health and well-being as well, including a lower risk of substance abuse, obesity and criminal activity. Read More →
Updated at 6:35 p.m.
MALDEN, Mass. -- Massachusetts students will take a new standardized test beginning in the spring of 2017. The yet-undeveloped test, unofficially dubbed "MCAS 2.0," will be a hybrid of the state's current MCAS exam and the PARCC test that Massachusetts districts have piloted for two years.
It marks the first major assessment overhaul since Bay State students began taking Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests nearly two decades ago.
The change was approved in an 8-3 vote by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday.
"I think it bodes well for the future of the Commonwealth and for the education system going forward," said Mitchell Chester, education commissioner. "It’s time for a next-generation. We’ve been sitting on our MCAS assessment for 18 years now." Read More →
Students in Massachusetts have been taking the standardized test known as MCAS for almost 20 years. On Tuesday, that may change.
That's when the state board of education plans to decide whether to scrap the current MCAS in favor of a yet-undeveloped MCAS test, based largely on the Common Core-aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test.
While the decision could have far-reaching effects for the classrooms of tomorrow, getting to this point has been anything but straightforward. Read More →
The recommendation comes after months of speculation about what Chester would choose for the state's K-12 testing program. The state board is expected to make the final decision Nov. 17. Read More →
Guest columnist Ayele Shakur says Boston needs to close the gap between students of color and their peers -- and can show other urban schools how to do it. Read More →
BOSTON -- A commission of lawmakers and educators is recommending hundreds of millions of dollars in new state funding for the state's public school systems.
In a report released Monday, the Foundation Budget Review Commission lays out recommendations for substantial updates to the state's school funding formula, a part of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. Although the act mandated that a commission review and update the formula every three years to stay abreast of changing education costs, it’s been more than a decade since the last commission issued a report.
Since then, the school funding formula has only been adjusted for inflation.
"Our school districts are really struggling to keep up with the high expectations that we have rightly set for them, when our investments aren't matching that high level of expectation," said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), who co-chaired the commission. Read More →
By Richard Stutman
A recent ruling by Washington state’s Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional, which has only served to further fuel the debate surrounding these often controversial educational institutions. The ruling, which argued that charter schools are not truly public schools because they are not governed by elected boards, found that these schools largely adhere to their own standards and as such are not accountable to voters. Charter schools are in fact independently run and operate without the same accountabilities as truly public schools.
As someone who was a teacher and is now the president of the 11,000-member Boston Teachers Union, I agree that we need to provide more educational options to low-income students, but charter schools are not the way to do this. In fact, their growth is a step toward privatizing public education. Charter schools take opportunities away from the other public schools by cherry-picking the students who come through their doors. Read More →
Many Massachusetts schools are using technology to monitor students, collect personal data about them and share that data in ways that raise troubling questions about student privacy, according to a new study from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.
The study, released Wednesday, examined 35 school districts across the state, including Boston, Springfield and various rural and suburban districts. Almost universally, the study found, students in those districts have "no expectation of privacy" when going online in school; many are similarly unprotected when using school-issued electronic devices, such as Chromebooks or iPads.
And many districts reserve the right to inspect those devices without notice or consent, the report said. Unlike searches of school lockers or student backpacks, the report said, in many cases school officials can search cellphones and other devices without even a "reasonable suspicion." Read More →
BOSTON — Massachusetts students are showing gains in fourth-grade reading but are slipping in fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading and math. That’s the major takeaway from national standardized test scores released Wednesday.
While some scores are lower than in 2013, Massachusetts students still rank at the top of the nation on those tests, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is often called the nation’s report card because it is the only measure of student achievement given regularly to a nationwide sampling of students.
In this year’s results, Massachusetts leads the nation in fourth-grade reading scores; even with its lower scores, the state statistically ties for first in fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading and math. Read More →