Strong Results, High Demand: A Four-Year Study of Boston's Pilot High Schools

Center for Collaborative Education
November 2007

Ohio is a hotbed of high-school reform initiatives, including:

  • the KnowledgeWorks- and Gates-funded Early College High Schools like DECA in Dayton (see here);

  • up to five new STEM high schools to be birthed in the next two years (see here);
  • a number of charter high school efforts underway, like the Charles School in Columbus (see here); and
  • myriad district high-school reform efforts.

These efforts, and others like them, can all benefit from studying Boston's Pilot high schools. This study is made easier by the new report, Strong Results, High Demand: A Four-Year Study of Boston's Pilot High Schools, which is the first longitudinal study of outcomes of Boston Pilot high schools. The study by the Center for Collaborative Education has found that youngsters in Pilot high schools outperform their peers in traditional Boston high schools in every category studied--state test scores, attendance rates, promotion rates, and graduation rates.

Pilot schools have autonomy over their budgets, staff, curriculum, governance, instruction, assessments, and schedules. But there's a tradeoff. Like charters in Ohio, in exchange for more operational freedoms, Pilot schools have increased accountability. The schools, 10 serving about 3,000 students, use these essential freedoms to create vision-driven smaller high schools that have a singular focus on student achievement.

Ohio can learn a lot from this report, which shows it is possible for a district to embrace a cohesive reform strategy that welcomes choice and operational freedoms in return for accountability. Teacher unions can actually help drive reform and innovation as opposed to fighting them at every stage, and schools of choice truly held accountable can deliver measurable academic results for traditionally underserved children.

The report is available online at www.ccebos.org/.

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