For Immediate Release
March 08, 2011
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at TechBoston Academy to discuss the shared responsibility that government, businesses, philanthropists, and communities have to promote innovative education strategies that will prepare American students to compete in a 21st century economy. Announced as one of the city’s first pilot schools by Mayor Menino in his 2002 Inaugural Address with generous grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TechBoston Academy has become one of the city’s most successful high schools in preparing its students for the future with an education based in cutting-edge technology and has expanded from grades 9 through 12 to offer classes beginning in grade 6.
“Our goal when we created TechBoston was to partner with the private sector for an innovative, high-tech approach to education for the next generation of Boston residents,” said Mayor Menino. “TechBoston Academy has proven that public schools can consistently out-perform expectations. We are using this success story as a model for rapidly improving all of our schools in Boston. President Obama’s visit showcases their success and sets a high bar for the rest of the nation.”
Nearly nine out of ten students at TechBoston qualify for free or reduced lunch programs – nearly 30% more than the rest of Boston Public Schools (BPS) – and yet, TechBoston’s graduation rate of 83% far exceeds the district average. The school has been such a success that BPS will expand enrollment by 24 percent this fall.
TechBoston is one of 21 Pilot Schools in BPS, which means it has flexibility around staffing, budget, curriculum, and has a longer school day than what is authorized in the general Boston Teachers Union contract. Most faculty members have advanced degrees and hold English as a Second Language (ESL) or special needs certifications. To develop the school, Mayor Menino solicited partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Boston Foundation, which agreed to provide financial support and guidance to quickly build a thriving school community.
At TechBoston, every student gets a laptop beginning in 8th grade. The school has a wireless data infrastructure provided by Cisco Systems, and Google has named TechBoston a pilot site for student application development. Partnerships with UMass-Boston and Harvard University help teachers get extra training and learn how to use data to improve student achievement.
“This is the future of education,” said BPS Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. “We don’t just hand students a laptop – we work with them to build websites, create videos, sift through science and realize the power of their own curiosity. TechBoston’s flexibilities and partnerships are exactly what we are working to accomplish in all of our schools.”
Facts about TechBoston:
- 86% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch (higher than the district average).
- 89% of students are either black or Hispanic (higher than the district average).
- 20% of students have special needs (about the same as the district average).
- The TechBoston graduation rate is 83% (higher than the BPS average of 63%).
- 94% of TechBoston graduates go on to attend a two- or four-year college or university.
Boston School Committee Chair Rev. Gregory G. Groover said the school is a powerful example of the President’s education agenda in action. “TechBoston integrates technology by using innovative, interactive strategies to engage students in their own education. Now, BPS is expanding the school so even more students can attend. Even in an economic crisis, we are delivering more for our students.”
Led by Headmaster Mary Skipper, TechBoston Academy will add nearly 175 seats this fall to meet growing demand. The Upper and Lower schools, which now operate in two separate buildings, will be combined in the Dorchester Education Complex.
At today’s event, TechBoston 11th graders Gregory Bullock and Jamiece Shepard sang the national anthem. President Obama also visited an Advanced Placement Government class taught by Sandy Derstine and a biotechnology class instructed by James Louis.