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EdVestors taps 3 struggling Boston schools for 3-year, $3 million improvement effort

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 14, 2012 04:02 PM

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A nonprofit that supports urban education announced Monday that it has selected three struggling public elementary schools in Boston to join a partnership that will provide to the schools a total of $3 million in additional funding, staff, and resources.

After a competitive application review process, the “Improving Schools Initiative” run by EdVestors said it has selected: the James F. Condon School in South Boston, the William E. Russell School in Dorchester, and the Ellis Mendell School in Roxbury.

Collectively, the schools enroll nearly 1,400 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. The three are classified as by the state as “Level 3” schools, meaning their standardized testing performance ranks in the bottom 20 percent in Massachusetts.

There are 266 “Level 3” schools in the state, including about 60 in Boston, the Globe reported last month. But, such schools have fewer chances to receive public funding and support than 41 other Massachusetts schools, including 11 in Boston, that are designated as “Level 4” or “underperforming” schools, meaning they have even poorer student performance.

A state law enacted two years ago allows no more than 4 percent, or about 70 schools, to be designated as “underperforming’’ at any given time because of limited funds for turnaround efforts.

Still, the difference between test scores of students from Level 3 schools and Level 4 schools is barely distinguishable, the Globe has reported.

“This new partnership will strengthen our classrooms well beyond the arts and will make a difference for students at every level,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement.

The nonprofit said its program will start this summer with workshops for teachers and staff to develop an improvement plan for each school. A project manager, along with additional staff and consultants, will be assigned to work with the schools, officials said.

“EdVestors has spent years working in our schools and identifying strategies that help make improvement efforts successful,” Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said in a statement. “The great teachers and school leaders in these schools are thrilled to welcome EdVestors as a partner to help make great things happen for every child.”

The Russell School enrolls 369 students, the Condon School enrolls 771 students and the Mendell School enrolls 227 students, according to the state education department website. All three schools enroll a significant percentage of English Language Learners, students with disabilities and students from low-income families.

“Each of these ISI schools is characterized by willing leadership and a staff that is ready to tackle school improvement in new ways,” said a statement from Laura Perille, executive director of the decade-old EdVestors organization. “These schools have some structures in place, but nonetheless face challenges where we believe a partnership with EdVestors will make a big difference.”

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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