John Monfredo: Superintendent Boone and The State of Worcester Public Schools
Saturday, October 20, 2012
It was three years ago that I encouraged Dr. Boone to consider giving a review of our schools to the public as an attempt to make education a priority in community. She has continued to meet the challenge and again delivered a most informative report to the community.
At the beginning of her address, she made a point to thank the parents for choosing the Worcester Public Schools as their school of choice, for Dr. Boone has continued to reach out to the parents in this community and to seek their input. Dr. Boone boasted of the accomplishments in the Worcester Public Schools this year, and mentioned the selection of the South High band to represent Massachusetts in this year’s 4th of July parade in Washington, D.C. and the recognition of the school in the New York Times for its success in Advanced Placement.
She spoke of the Burncoat Arts Magnet Programs and their outstanding performances in the community as they continue to “wow the community in such a professional way.” She praised the expansion of the Engineering program at Doherty High School and its successes.
Recognition was also given to Columbus Park for receiving a commendation from the Department of Education for high progress in narrowing the proficiency gaps. Then to West Tatnuck for receiving a commendation for narrowing proficiency gaps and to Worcester Arts Magnet for 100% of their Grade three students scoring proficient or above on the math MCAS, the best in the State.
In addition, special recognition was given to Worcester Technical High School, for being honored by NBC’s Today Show on the many successes taking place at the school.
Dr. Boone also spoke about the importance of partnerships and praised the work of Hanover Insurance for their role in the AVID program (Advanced Via Individual Determination) in the schools, the work of the colleges and universities, the involvement of the Worcester Education Collaborative, and Ted Coghlin of Coghlin Electric.
Dr. Boone made a special point to praise Worcester Technical student Marvin Gomez, a student from El Salvador, who enrolled in the Worcester Public Schools in 2005 as an English Language Learner. Now, seven years later, he has earned the highest qualifying score (a FIVE) on the AP English Exam.
Other positive news in the Worcester Public Schools mentioned by Dr. Boone was the rigor in our curriculum with more and more students taking AP courses and with the percentage of students passing keeping pace. The graduation rate continues to move up each year and the dropout rate has declined since 2008. In addition, the number of schools listed as Level 1 or Level 2 shows that the system is moving in the right direction.
Dr. Boone, however, was quick to point out that more work needs to be done to close the achievement gap and move all students to college and career ready. The system continues to have many challenges as the data shows that the Worcester Public Schools has over 80 languages spoken, English Language Learners make up over 28% of the student body, low income is 72% as compared to the State that reads 35%, and our special education students’ compose 20% of the population.
Dr. Boone has set a number of future goals for the system with increases in our English, Math and Science Technology scores showing growth year by year, graduation rate reaching 90% by the year 2016 for a 4 year graduation rate, a 50% reduction in the annual dropout rate to 1.9% by 2016-17, and that 100% of graduates will successfully complete high school coursework that prepares them for both college and career.
The theme of Dr. Boone’s speech was “A Season of Change," a theme that, metaphorically speaking, alluded to the need for everyone to work together for change and be part a team that moves us all to the next level.
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