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Overview of issue. The Boston Compact is On the Same Page.
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On the Same Page
Boston Compact - Serving students by bringing educators together
On The Same Page brings you the news of the Boston Compact—where educators from Boston's district, charter and Catholic schools collaborate to increase equity and access to excellent instruction for all students.
Students from the featured partnership schools
Sharing Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities
 
One of the strategies the Boston Compact uses to build cross-sector relationships and share effective practice is supporting school partnerships.  These could be considered “mini-compacts,” as they bring together individual district, charter and Catholic schools to form a three-school team focused on a specific problem. In 2013, the Compact’s Steering Committee selected three high schools – New Mission (BPS), City on a Hill (charter) and Cathedral (Catholic) – to form a partnership.  The schools decided to focus on how to close the gap between students with special needs and their peers in Mathematics classes. 
While the school faculties were not familiar with one another prior to the partnership, the three schools were similar in structure, teaching styles and exam results.  From the beginning of the partnership, the school leaders and teachers involved felt that the task was meaningful and the potential for progress was great.  Nina Scupp, a teacher from the City on a Hill charter school and the partnership's facilitator, spoke on the scope of what had been undertaken.  “It’s a challenge, right, to bring schools from very different educational sectors together to the same table… but what was nice about the Compact was that you’re bringing people to the same table with something to research and investigate, something that we all care about.”  This sentiment was echoed by principal of the Cathedral High School, Helenann Civian.  As Helenann observed, the collaboration provided “… a different perspective, [and helped us] to think differently.”
Principal of City on a Hill (Circuit Street campus), Cristin Berry Pizzimenti highlighted the personal gains from such a partnership.  “[It is] good to know the principals of other schools, for my own professional development and networking.  Having that contact is really helpful.  Being able to have opportunity for cross-sector collaboration is fantastic.”  Naia WIlson, Headmaster of New Mission High School, said it was valuable for her teachers as well. She explained that her school has only one subject teacher per grade.  The meetings allowed her Mathematics teachers to meet with and exchange ideas with others in their grade and field of expertise, which proved to be both enlightening and refreshing.  Teachers from different sectors working together, meeting, getting to know each other “…was a really good opportunity to… demystify [ideology] around each other."
The desire to learn from one another powered the partnership.  After the triad collected, analyzed and made adjustments based on data from students in mathematics classes, one of the participants, Nina Scupp, presented their findings at the National Charter School Conference in Nashville, Tennessee this year.  “A lot of people were fascinated by the fact that we even existed [as a Compact].  [The attendees] were very interested in the study of successful schools.”

The Research
Educators in the partnership carried out two cycles of research.  In the first cycle, the collaborators restricted their exploration to their own schools.  They conducted school visits at each of the three campuses, spent time in classrooms and discussed what were their challenges and successes within the classrooms.  Second, they decided to investigate what impact study skill strategies would have on students with disabilities in Mathematics classes, as this was a common challenge across the three schools.  Mathematics and special education teachers reviewed the strategies that were being utilized in their schools at the time, noting how they were being used and their impact on student outcomes.  Next, teachers administered a straightforward unit test to both students with and without disabilities, establishing a baseline for future comparison.  Then the teachers introduced a study skill strategy in the classroom, administering the test again at the end of the cycle.  This was repeated for four different study skill strategies, with the results for both students with and without disabilities being documented for comparison.
Study Skill Type of Student Gains No Change Decline
Practice Test SWD 90% 0% 6%
Non-SWD 63% 19% 18%
Flash Cards SWD 81% 8% 12%
Non-SWD 92% 0% 8%
Online Video SWD 94% 8% 0%
Non-SWD 79% 13% 8%
Review Packet SWD 88% 12% 0%
Non-SWD 78% 11% 11%
Credit: Empowering Students with Disabilities to Succeed on Standardized Tests – Nina Scupp, ED.M.

As Nina observed, the results were fascinating. “What we found was that, in general, teaching any type of strategy was helpful… It was helpful for all students, but particularly for kids with disabilities.”  This finding was consistent across the schools in each sector.
Encouraged by the results from the first cycle of research, the school partnership expanded the second cycle of study to include schools not in their triad.  Four schools – two charter schools, a pilot school and a traditional district school – all of whom serve students with social-emotional and behavioral disabilities and continue to score highly on the MCAS test were singled out for qualitative research.  The partnership educators carried out a series of school visits, focus groups and in-depth interviews together, attempting to answer some key questions:
  • What are the commonalities among these schools?
  • How/did any of the following contribute to student success?
    • Curriculum & Instruction – what are schools teaching and how are they teaching it
    • School Structure – length of the school day, class size
    • School Culture – student/teacher relationships
  • What can be replicated?
After they identified contributing factors to student success, the triad educators took what they had observed back to their own schools, testing strategies for replication.  Perhaps because they had previously worked on study skills or possibly because study skill instruction is effective in closing achievement gaps between students with special needs and their peers, one common factor that resonated at the end of the study was that each of the schools visited heavily relied on some sort of study strategy. “[The schools we went to] are specifically teaching test taking strategies… [and getting] kids really comfortable taking the tests.”
When Nina presented these findings on behalf of the partnership at the conference, she was overwhelmed by the response.  “I really didn’t know what to expect… I was totally blown away by the level of interest that our project [received].  I hadn’t realized that the work that we were doing [would have such an impact].  People were really fascinated by [our cross-sector partnership].”

Next Steps
Although the triad has completed its three-years of financial support from the Compact, the educators are committed to continuing their partnership.  They have decided to next turn their attention to another segment of the student population – Black and Latino males.  Headmaster Naia Wilson explained, “We… agreed that males of color would be a great subgroup to try and focus on. I liked the authenticity of [the partnership], and next steps really being driven by teachers, and that’s a good thing.”
The Compact is always heartened to see teachers and school leaders choosing to learn with and from one another.  We congratulate these three schools for building a strong community of practice.  As Cristin Berry Pizzimenti put it, “[The partnership] was such a great opportunity.  There are so many best practices that are happening at other schools, and if we only stick with talking [within our sector] we’re not going to actually learn the best practice.”
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Dec 9th - Trauma in The Village
The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) will host a two-day Regional Gathering in Boston. The first day is focused on “Trauma in the Village,” designed to provide a safe space for members of the village to share, converse, strategize and render solutions that will aid in the healing process. The conversation will be expertly facilitated and highly interactive, ultimately seeking resolutions to trauma and mental well-being via clinical research, school and community based expertise, and the insights of the village.

The Boston Compact is pleased to be a co-sponsor.



 
 
Dec 10th - Healing in The Village
 

The second day will be a safe space for families to share, converse, strategize and render solutions that will aid in the healing process.

There is no cost for this gathering, but registration is required. Morning coffee, lunch & afternoon snacks, and childcare are included. Open to parents, children and teens living in the Greater Boston area. If you would like more information on how to register for your family or parents/youth in your organization, please email healinginthevillage@gmail.com.

The Boston Compact is proud to be a co-sponsor.

SAVE THE DATE!
SAT, MARCH 11, 2017

LILLA G. FREDERICK PILOT MIDDLE SCHOOL
270 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA

ECET2: A Celebration of Culturally Responsive Teaching is a convening of educators who are passionate about serving students learning English as a New Language, students with disabilities, and students who have been traumatized.This teacher-led event is open to teachers from district, charter and Catholic schools.. Teachers who attend will be treated as the VIPs who they are!

The Boston Compact is pleased to co-sponsor this special celebration.


Click here to nominate a teacher or to present at this event. 

FREE RESOURCES FROM A BOSTON SCHOOL

One of the aims of the Boston Compact is to share practices across schools. Check out Match Minis a new website from Match Education that features short animated videos ("minis") on teaching moves and practices that support teacher growth. This mini, Running Effective Coaching, breaks down the components of an effective coaching relationship and explains the difference between good coaching and effective coaching.
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