For Immediate Release - January 15, 2013

GOVERNOR PATRICK HIGHLIGHTS TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF ACHIEVEMENT GAP ACT TOOLS AT ORCHARD GARDENS K-8 SCHOOL

Orchard Gardens Achievements
Governor Patrick joins students and teachers to celebrate student achievement at the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury. (Photo Credit: Eric Haynes / Governor's Office)

BOSTON – Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick today visited with students, teachers and parents at Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Boston to congratulate the school on its success in dramatically improving student achievement in recent years as a result of the tools and supports provided by the Achievement Gap Act.

“The hard work and dedication of the students and staff at Orchard Gardens never ceases to amaze me,” said Governor Patrick. “This school is a testament to the positive change we can see when we strategically invest in education and innovation to provide students with kinds of supports they need to be successful in the classroom and in life.”

“It’s clear how far Orchard Gardens has come, and that our investments – the federal government’s, the State’s, and the City’s – are paying off,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “Together with Governor Patrick, Superintendent Johnson, and Orchard Gardens’ fantastic faculty, staff and students, I look forward to continued progress, and working together to make sure these proven tools for success are available to all of Boston’s students.”

Orchard Gardens is a K-8 school in Boston serving over 760 students. The school was designated as a Level 4 school under the state’s accountability system, created by the Achievement Gap Act of 2010, and embraced nearly every “turnaround” tool afforded to the school by the Achievement Gap Act to rapidly improve student performance.

Orchard Gardens extended its school day to give students additional time for instruction in core subjects and afterschool support for homework. Students at Orchard Gardens eat three meals a day at the school and exercise, music and arts classes are an important part of the school week. The school partners with City Year and other outside organizations to help manage truancy issues and get to the root cause of why students are missing school in order to boost school attendance. Orchard Gardens has also joined with Boston Medical Center, City Connects and other partners to ensure that students are not only supported academically, but that whole families are getting their basic needs met by the school and its network of human and social service providers.

After nearly three years of utilizing the Achievement Gap Act tools, student proficiency at Orchard Gardens has risen from 13% to 37% since 2009 in English Language Arts – a 184% increase; and from 6% to 38% in Math – a 533% increase. The school has made year-over-year progress across all grades and academic subjects, and the culture at Orchard Gardens has made equally positive strides.

“We are committed to making sure that all students in the Commonwealth – regardless of background or zip code – have the supports they need to reach their full potential,” said Education Secretary Matt Malone. “The Achievement Gap Act gave us the right tools. Now we need to continue the work of implementing those tools in a way that helps prepare our young people for success in the classroom and beyond.”

"The transformational change occurring at Orchard Gardens is something some thought was impossible just a few years ago," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. "I couldn't be more proud of the team Principal Bott has assembled and their commitment to taking full advantage of tools the education reform law provides them to ensure all students succeed."

"Our students are reaching new heights because we are able to approach our challenges with innovative solutions that weren't easily accessible four years ago," said Principal Andrew Bott. "While the work is not always easy, we see the rewards each and every day as our students grow, learn, and achieve."

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