- Great Teachers
- Great Schools
- Great Results
Since all of our work aims to improve student learning, hearing from students themselves is crucial. As participants in focus groups and surveys, students provide data to the BPE research team and to school teams that helps guide the development of our work and to inform school and district-level improvements.
Recently, as a part of our intensive data support to partner schools, we have developed data tools that engage students in improving their own outcomes.
Graduation Progress Tracker
The graduation progress tracker provides each student with a clear picture of his progress toward meeting high school graduation and college admissions requirements. In one colorful, easy-to-read page, the tracker shows each student her grades and grade point average, credits earned, required courses remaining, MCAS performance, and attendance data. The reverse side includes space for future planning. To our knowledge, no other district has provided all of its students with such data.
The tracker was developed through a collaborative planning process that engaged students, teachers, guidance counselors, and district and school leaders. It is based on a similar tool developed by New Visions for Public Schools in New York City and grew out of BPE's success using early-warning data with teachers and school teams.
Student Voice as Data
In 2009-2010, the BPE research team partnered with faculty at the McCormack Middle School to design and conduct a student attendance survey to gain a deeper understanding of attendance and tardiness issues. The survey illuminated school policies, and practices that, if changed, could help students attend school more regularly and on time. Teacher leaders used the data as a part of their school-wide inquiry into attendance patterns. BPE will continue to support schools to collect data from students that deepens their understanding of performance gaps and leads to better results.
As part of Boston's High School Renewal initiative, BPE coordinates a student-led research team — Student Researchers for High School Renewal (SRHSR) — to increase student voice at the school and district level on issues that affect high school students. In the first year, student researchers examined attendance and truancy issues across the city, surveying their peers and presenting findings to district leaders. In subsequent years, students conducted participatory research projects in their high schools and engaged their peers in discussions of school policies using the data they collected. They presented results of their peer survey on school climate issues to the superintendent and other city leaders.
Research and Activism for Change
BPE collaborated with Youth on Board and other partners to design a credit-bearing elective course — Research and Activism for Change (RAC) — that engaged students as researchers and advocates for school improvement. Over two years, participants collected, analyzed, and presented data on issues related to the quality of education in Boston schools. A summer program on a college campus helped students deepen their research skills, while exposing them to college-level work.