With public education in the nation's urban centers consistently lagging behind that of other districts, and the stakes for students steadily rising, Boston presents hope for those engaged in the fight for system-wide improvement in urban districts.
Ten years of steady leadership from Superintendent Thomas Payzant together with the consistent support of the mayor and school committee created a fertile environment for considerable gains in student achievement throughout the Boston Public Schools. These achievements were recognized in September 2006 with the selection of Boston for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, an annual award presented to the most improved urban school district in the country.
This critical era in the Boston Public Schools is the focus of a new book by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy entitled, A Decade of Urban School Reform: Persistence and Progress in the Boston Public Schools, which distills valuable insights and lessons for school leaders and reformers everywhere. With chapters that explore questions pertaining to governance, leadership development, instruction, data collection, students with disabilities, community engagement, and other topics, the book offers a detailed, comprehensive portrait of a school system managing the complex and daunting tasks of system-wide reform.
Rennie Center President Paul Reville comments, "This research validates Boston's strategic direction on education reform, but it also highlights key areas where reforms must go further and be equitably implemented at an accelerated pace. Both the successes of the past decade and Boston's ongoing challenges offer critical 'lessons-learned' for others engaged in school reform.
Edited by Paul Reville with Celine Coggins, this volume is published by the Harvard Education Press and includes chapters authored by nationally recognized educational experts. Research for the book was made possible by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as through support from the Noyce Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the Irene B. and George A. Davis Foundation.
"The Boston story reminds us that there are no quick fixes or silver bullets in the battle for dramatically improved urban school districts and instead proves that steady focus on instructional improvement and strong commitment to system-wide reform can produce results," Reville stated. "All those fighting the good fight to ensure that urban children are provided with a high quality education will benefit from the lessons of the past decade in Boston."
Praise for the book:
"In its comprehensive account of school reform efforts in Boston, this book offers insights into the immense and necessary project that is contemporary urban school reform. It should be of interest to all who have a stake in urban school reform throughout the country." -- Richard Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education
"A Decade of Urban School Reform should be required reading for every educator and policymaker in this country. Success is possible, but as Boston demonstrates, it requires leadership, a unified partnership among all stakeholders, and an unwavering focus on student achievement." -- Eli Broad, The Broad Foundation