What to do with BPS

A test that does not measure poverty

Re “Wu Urges State to Give City a Chance with Schools: Testifies Takeover Would Be ‘Counterproductive'” (Page A1, March 23): It is now established that standardized tests are strongly correlated with family income this causality is anything but indisputable. Student performance on these tests is likely the criteria by which the state will make its decision on receivership. It is almost 30 years since the historic Massachusetts Education Reform Act was successful. It would seem that 30 years later, the issue of poverty, and the problems of children in families living in poverty, could be better addressed more directly, and that children’s learning should cease to be measured by practices and instruments that failed miserably to be assigned to them. Mayor Wu, the parents, teachers and children of Boston deserve the opportunity to demonstrate the real causes of the structural inequalities that have led to this ongoing crisis and the time to work on shaping more effective learning and assessment strategies for these children. .

Frederick P. Sperounis


The question of responsibility

What does accountability look like in education in Massachusetts? The storm clouds that seem to be forming around the Boston public schools receivership raise questions about how the department is addressing issues that arise at its public, charter, and private special education schools. funded by the state. The issue was raised in the Education Commissioner’s report most recent newsletter, but accountability and oversight in Massachusetts schools seem to vary and vary wildly, save for the occasional flash of receivership from above. The truth is that there are no policies and procedures in place, including under the Persons with Disabilities Act Part B for Special Education. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has guidelines and advice, but nothing that is enforceable beyond its own relentless will when it decides to intervene. The department should develop enforceable and consistent policies and procedures and ensure that training for their own staff who oversee complex situations, such as chapter 766 schools approved for special education students, know what they are looking at when doing inspections. The lack of clear policies and procedures has led to a system that is highly inequitable and ensures that issues will remain pent up until drastic action is needed.

Ben Tobin


The author is an education advocate and special education teacher who works with students in Massachusetts.

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