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Analysis: Boston Public Schools’ progress ‘slow and uneven’

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(The Center Square) A new analysis shows that progress at Boston’s public schools is slow and uneven.

Pioneer Institute on Thursday released The State of Things: Tracking BPS’s Road to Improvement 2022-23, its new study on Boston schools. In the analysis, the group said the schools have far to go in streamlining critical processes, improving school accountability, and creating a realistic, school-centric budget.

Dr. Cara Candal, the author of the analysis, said the schools have much work that “needs to be done.”

“Continually declining enrollment and a looming fiscal cliff as federal pandemic funding expires will make the challenge even more daunting, Candal wrote in the analysis.

The analysis shows that upon completing “its second devastating review” of Boston’s schools in less than three years, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education decided to strengthen and renew a memorandum of understanding with the schools – that document details “needed improvements” and how the state will support those improvements.

According to the analysis, Pioneer Institute recommends that schools should “free up funding” for priorities in education by responsibly closing and consolidating those under-enrolled schools and streamlining the district’s central office.

In the analysis, the district is urged to make a “one-time investment” in securing an audit while updating and training personnel on district data systems amid ongoing struggles with oversight and monitoring.

It is also recommended, in the analysis, that the schools should “reimagine transportation” by exploring transportation grants where families could choose whether the schools buy a T pass, fund gasoline purchases, or use alternative transportation, such as HopSkipDrive.

According to the analysis, the district has “continually increased budgets” to support under-enrolled schools instead of closing and consolidating. Pioneer said that is a decision “that will have long-term negative consequences” on student outcomes.

The analysis also points to an Ernst and Young third-party review that illustrates that the district made progress in identifying and supporting students with special needs but needs more oversight and monitoring of Individualized Education Plans.

Also, that review showed a need for more data on why students are leaving Boston schools and the schools failed to allocate resources to get students to school safely and on time.

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