Boston Public Schools / Pilot Schools
In 1994, Boston Public Schools designed “pilot schools” in an effort to retain teachers and students after the Massachusetts legislature passed a state chartering law in 1993. Under the pilot agreement, the BPS Superintendent delegates authority to pilot schools’ governing boards to try new and different means of improving teaching and learning in order to better serve at-risk urban students. The potential exists for the boards to informally transfer that decision-making authority to the group of teachers at the school. Some boards have done this, to varying degrees.
All Boston Pilot Schools take part in a network led by the Center for Collaborative Education. CCE provides schools with coordination support and assistance, including coaching services, professional development, advocacy, and research and evaluation. CCE was also involved in the development of Los Angeles’s pilot model.
As part of this work, CCE developed the Five Conditions of Autonomy for schools that are espoused in both the Boston and Los Angeles pilot school agreements (memorandums of understanding, or MOUs), which are arranged between the school district and the union. The five conditions include: staffing, budget, curriculum & assessment, governance, and school calendar. In addition to the MOU, teachers at each Boston pilot school collectively write an Elect to Work Agreement (EWA) for their site on an annual basis that outlines the working conditions at the school. This is a means to exercise more autonomy at the school level, at the will of the teachers. The EWA is voted on by the teachers at the site, and teachers who do not agree to work under the conditions will enter the district’s hiring pool and default to the working conditions outlined in the existing collective bargaining agreement.
Individual schools in this group include:
The BTU School teaches a broad curriculum, with a focus on integrated, thematic units. Students receive instruction in English, mathematics, science, history, geography, Spanish language, the arts, and physical education.
Teachers develop their own lesson plans, projects and materials to give students “multiple points of entry” to the curriculum. In other words, teachers use different modes of instruction e.g., lecture, project-based learning, small group discussion, individual research and writing so that every student finds a way to engage with the material.
Both the Day and Evening Academy programs serve over-age students (16-23 years old) who are graduating from middle school unprepared for high school, or who have attended high school, had an unsuccessful or interrupted experience, and are now returning to earn their diploma. Many of these students have significant gaps in their learning, especially in […]
The curriculum in all academic courses is rigorous, and designed to prepare students for four-year colleges. Classes are heterogeneously grouped and the academic expectations are the same for all students. Students have the option of taking any course as an Honors course by meeting additional requirements that include additional work and/or taking additional exams or […]
To be a true artist, one must also be a scholar. The academic curricula at Boston Arts Academy prepare a diverse community of aspiring artist-scholars to be successful in their college or professional careers and to be engaged members of a democratic society. In addition to specializing in one of five arts subject areas: visual […]