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Boston's Madison Park Focus of New Report

A centerpiece of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s State of the City address last night focused on efforts to transform the faltering Madison Park Technical Vocational High School into a premier job training institution for city youth.

Menino’s support for making Madison Park a model of urban vocational education follows the release of a report, commissioned by Boston Public Schools through its Office of Career and Technical Education in the spring of 2011, compiled by two dozen national and state experts in career and vocational technical education including Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Project Director William Symonds and Strategic Education Research Partnership Program Director Claire White.

“I am gratified that Mayor Menino and Superintendent [Carol] Johnson have embraced the Madison Park review, and the vision of the Pathways to Prosperity project,” says Symonds. “Their strong leadership suggests we have a terrific opportunity to improve outcomes for students in Boston Public Schools.”

Following the release of the Pathways to Prosperity report (pdf 2.5 MB) which called for offering high school students “multiple pathways” to success rather than over-emphasizing a traditional four-year college route, Symonds was asked by Boston Public School Superintendent Carol Johnson to lead a review of Madison Park.

“High quality vocational education is one of the most important of these pathways. Massachusetts has become a national leader in developing high-quality vocational high schools. In fact, these high schools tend to have higher graduation rates, and higher MCAS scores, than the state’s traditional comprehensive high schools,” Symonds says. “While Madison Park has struggled, our review concludes that it can aspire to the same level of excellence already achieved by vocational high schools elsewhere in the Commonwealth.”

The Madison Park review, which will be presented to the Boston School Committee tonight at 6 p.m., presents a “blueprint for transforming” the school into a “true beacon of opportunity for high school students in Boston,” Symonds adds. “The school we envision would aspire to graduate 90 percent of incoming freshmen with the skills to pursue both post-secondary education and to successfully enter the workforce.”

To hear more about the Madison Park Project, tune in to WBUR’s Radio Boston today at 3:30 p.m.