The Importance of Enrichment Opportunities

Today, the Boston Globe ran a story about students at the Edison K-8 School, a City Connects school in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, tackling Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  The story, “Arts are helping shape Edison K-8 School,” shows the commitment of the Edison community to providing exposure to arts and enrichment activities for their student population.

At City Connects, we believe it is just as important to nurture a student’s strengths as it is to address his or her needs or challenges. Our School Site Coordinators make many referrals to community agencies that offer enrichment opportunities to students so they can explore the arts, music, or theater–creative expressions they may not have been exposed to otherwise. In 2010-11, about 10% of the 33,700 services and enrichment opportunities delivered to students were arts-related.

Mary Driscoll, Principal of the Edison, said in the story that arts “do so many different things for us as a school community. Everyone gets involved.’’

For More Information:

  • Watch a video of a dress rehearsal of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by Edison students

MCAS Scores and the Achievement Gap

The 2011 MCAS scores were released last week (check out our roundup of the news). The Boston Globe published its own review of the results yesterday in which they examined the scores by income level. The article, “MCAS scores appear stuck in income gap,” found that “schools with substantial numbers of low-income students are consistently failing to meet academic benchmarks under the No Child Left Behind law, with more than 60 percent falling short of standards in English, and math, and lagging well behind schools with wealthier students.”

The article cited language barriers, lack of after-school care, homelessness, and mobility as “out-of-school” factors affecting low-income students. These are exactly the types of supports and services to which our School Site Coordinators connect students and families, in addition to enrichment opportunities like music, art, and athletic programs. We believe that this comprehensive method of delivering student support makes students better able to learn and thrive in school.

Our results show that City Connects (CCNX) students outperform their Boston Public School (BPS) peers on MCAS English Language Arts and Math, even after they leave a City Connects school and go on to middle school. The graphs below shows MCAS ELA results using 2009-10 data; City Connects students approach the state average by grade 8. To give you an idea of low-income status, 82% of our City Connects students in 2009-10 were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. We think this is strong evidence that student support is a powerful mechanism that can help narrow the achievement gap.


Report Gives Massachusetts “D” Grade on Youth Physical Activity

A new report from the Boston Foundation and NEHI, a nonprofit, independent health policy institute, handed out grades to Massachusetts across a range of areas in its “Healthy People/Healthy Economy” [pdf] annual report card. Sadly, Massachusetts earned a lackluster “D” in the category of youth physical activity. The report explains why:

  • In 2009, one in every four students in Massachusetts did not participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per week and almost half—42%—of Massachusetts public school students did not attend any physical education classes.
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 18 percent of Massachusetts schools offer daily gym classes, compared with a 30% national average.
  • According to a July 2011 report, Massachusetts is at the bottom of all states when it comes to physical activity for high
    school students.

To try to improve on this front, the Coalition has filed legislation urging state standards to require at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day, every day, for all students.

For more information:

More “Getting In” Series Installments

Getting InThe Boston Globe ran two articles over the weekend in its “Getting In” series about the Boston Public Schools’ lottery. The first, “A daily diaspora, a scattered street,” focuses on the societal and neighborhood impact of the geographic scattering school choice produces. The Globe focused on one street in Roslindale, where  “… 19 school-age children who live on this one city block in Roslindale will migrate to a dizzying array of 15 public, private, and charter schools, from West Roxbury to Wellesley, traveling a combined 182 miles each day. ”

The second story, “The high price of school assignment,” zeroes in on the bottom line. What’s it cost to transport all 32,200 of Boston’s students to school every day for a year? With 691 buses, the tally is $80 million, roughly 10% of the district’s total school budget.

For more information:

  • See our previous coverage of the series here, here,  and here

“Getting In” Series Continues

The Boston Globe ran another installment in its “Getting In” series about the Boston Public Schools’ lottery, this time concentrating on two families: one whose child didn’t get into the school across the street, and one who didn’t want their children to go to the school across the street. Meet these two families in “An early education in the meaning of ‘no’.”

The Eliot, a City Connects school in Boston’s North End, plays a prominent role in the story–watch the video for a cameo by Eliot principal Traci Walker Griffith!

New Report Shows Relationship Between Family Violence & Bullying in Massachusetts Schools

Bullying and family violence may be related, according to a new report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Source: Boston Globe

The report analyzed the 2009 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, an anonymous survey given to randomly chosen schools every two years. In 2009, the first year that bullying was included in the questionnaire, 138 public middle schools and high schools participated in the survey.

The results show a striking correlation between family violence and bullying. Compared with students who were neither bullies nor bullying victims, both middle and high school bully-victims reported much higher instances of being physically hurt by a family member (23.2% versus 5.1% for middle school; 20.4% versus 4.7% for high school) or witnessing violence in their family (22.8% versus 6.6% for middle school; 30.6% versus 7.2% for high school).

Key findings from the report include:

  • More middle school students (26.8%) than high school students (15.6%) were categorized as victims of bullying, with a greater percentage of males (9.9% for middle school and 12.1% for high school) than females (5% for middle school and 4.8% for high school) categorized as bullies.
  • Compared with students who were neither bullies nor bullying victims, both middle and high school bully-victims were more than three times as likely to report seriously considering suicide (24.9% versus 4.5% for middle school; 22.5% versus 6.2% for high school) or intentionally injuring themselves (40.9% versus 8.4% for middle school; 28.5% versus 8.6% for high school).
  • Sizable percentages of both bullies and bully-victims acknowledged recent use of alcohol (32.7% and 22.7%, respectively, for middle school students; 63.2% and 56.3%, respectively, for high school) and recent use of drugs (32.0% and 19.9%, respectively, for middle school; 47.2% and 41.0%, respectively, for high school).

For more information:

Globe Continues Series on Boston Public Schools’ Lottery

The Boston Globe has published the second article in its “Getting In” series about the Boston Public Schools’ lottery, “Relief, dismay, even guilt greet student placements.” In this installment, parents learn of their child’s school placement. Some parents were thrilled, while others weren’t so lucky in getting their first choice.

The series follows 13 families through the Boston Public Schools’ lottery for school assignment. The first article, “Taking a Chance, Making a Choice,” introduced a South End family who is considering moving to the suburbs if the lottery doesn’t work out in their favor.

Boston Globe Debuts Multimedia Series on School Lottery

The Boston Globe recently unveiled a new series, “Getting In: Inside Boston’s School Assignment Maze,” which follows 13 families through the Boston Public Schools lottery for school assignment. The home page for the series features video introductions of the families, who come from diverse backgrounds and varying neighborhoods across the city. The first article in the series, “Taking a Chance, Making a Choice,” follows a South End family who is considering moving to the suburbs if the lottery doesn’t work out in their favor. An accompanying article gives more background on the school choice process in Boston: “Selection Process Starts with Choices, Ends with Luck.”