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Research & Insights / Students are at the Helm at Boston Adult Technical Academy

Students are at the Helm at Boston Adult Technical Academy

This year, EdVestors held an open call for the School on the Move Prize, seeking the stories of Boston Public Schools that are creating and continuously improving learning environments where all students thrive. Eight semifinalists have been selected to advance to the next round, and three finalists will be celebrated at the School on the Move Prize Ceremony on November 8. Regardless of the outcome, each semifinalist has a story that we can learn from.

Boston Adult Technical Academy (BATA) is no ordinary high school. Students enter the school between the ages of 19 and 22, with jobs and family obligations to balance. Many are recent arrivals to the US who speak a variety of different languages. New students enroll and others graduate throughout the school year, with a constantly fluctuating population of around 100. As mature students, they aren’t required to be there; they choose to be. 

At BATA’s small school building in Back Bay, personal care is a precondition for learning, starting with the warm greeting students receive when they walk in the door. Each new student is asked to envision life after high school as part of a needs assessment. Then they are matched with a “primary person,” a staff member who is dedicated to supporting them. Students feel that care: 83% rated BATA’s school climate positively in last year’s climate survey, compared to only 48% across BPS.

For the team at BATA, all of this data is crucial for rapid-cycle improvement. Many typical measurements, like chronic absenteeism rates calculated annually, are insufficient for students with many outside obligations who enter and leave at any point of the year. Instead, BATA relies on personalized data collection, tracking attendance anew each month and logging conferences with students. With a mature school population, student voice is essential. BATA’s students lead focus groups for their peers in their home languages and bring suggestions to staff for implementation.

Many of BATA’s students have not had their needs met by traditional schools. It is BATA’s commitment to putting students back in control of their academic experience that makes them stand out as a school on the move.

Learn more about Boston Adult Technical Academy here.