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Boston Public Schools

District Partner 1999-2010

ERS partnered with Boston Public Schools (BPS) in various capacities for over a decade covering several areas including supporting the district in professional development (PD), comprehensive resource mapping and analysis, and targeting assistance around building a district-wide strategy for turnaround schools.

"There is no question that today's economic realities require us to make difficult choices. The challenge before us is to prioritize the investments that have the greatest impact on our core mission of ensuring academic excellence for all students."
-Dr. Carol Johnson, Superintendent

District Facts


Work Focus

  1. To support district leaders in refining system-wide, long-range strategies.
  2. To quantify and map use of existing resources with a focus on developing a plan for stimulus funds and quantifying opportunities for reallocating resources to support system transformation.
  3. To define and quantify resource requirements for a system-wide school support and accountability strategy that creates a comprehensive approach that includes pilot schools, high-performing BPS schools, and turnaround schools.

Past Work: ERS conducted two in-depth analyses of BPS’ PD spending to help Boston define and create a strategy that aligns with the district’s instructional goals and Whole School Change plans. ERS conducted the first study in 1999 and then did a follow-up study in 2001. ERS also collaborated with BPS in a study of small, high-performing high schools—funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—to analyze school and district reform practices that help create equitable, excellent, personalized high schools.

Findings and Outcomes

  • Finding that most PD funds were spent on fragmented courses and programs, ERS and the Boston Plan for Excellence published a joint report with recommendations to enhance the quality of PD. A follow-up study revealed that BPS had responded to the recommendations and was using PD resources in much more focused, integrated ways to support the district’s PD strategy. And, because BPS was able to describe a clear system-wide strategy for professional development, leaders were able to raise total spending on PD by 50%.
  • Based on its analysis and case studies of Boston High Schools, ERS identified important ways that small high schools effectively use resources to improve instruction and performance. ERS also highlighted the critical importance of flexibility.

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