Bringing College Success to East Boston

In 2011, Steppingstone’s College Success Academy was a brand new program, with the goal of setting Boston Public School students on the path to college graduation. Three years later, both applications to the program and MCAS scores are on the rise, and teachers report that Scholars are making great strides in their classrooms.

“I’ve noticed Scholars’ confidence improve; their participation in class improve; and I’ve seen a big improvement on test scores,” says Kristin Shadford, who teaches fifth grade math at the Gardner Pilot Academy, one of the College Success Academy’s three partner schools in Allston-Brighton. “Scholars become leaders in the classroom and they are proud to be in Steppingstone.”

With observations and data showing such positive early results, the College Success Academy is eager to extend its reach by expanding to serve a new community next year: East Boston.

“The chance to work with more students is very exciting,” says Sarah Conrad, Steppingstone’s Chief Program Officer. “Families in East Boston are deeply committed to education and are eager for academic programs to support their children. The College Success Academy’s four years of academic preparation—followed by comprehensive support and college readiness services through high school and into college—proves a perfect match and will have a significant impact on the college graduation rates of East Boston students.”

“I know firsthand the incredible value of rigorous after-school academic activities and how they are so beneficial to all students. A partnership with Steppingstone is a logical next step in the transformation of the McKay School from a low-performing, ‘high-support’ school to one of the best schools in the city of Boston.”

~ Jordan Weymer, Principal of the Donald McKay K-8 School

The community’s high population of English language learners is another reason Steppingstone has chosen East Boston as the site for expansion. “We’ve seen that initial academic opportunities can be limited for students with lower English proficiency who do not speak English at home,” explains Conrad. “The additional school time they get through Steppingstone, combined with their own work ethic and commitment, leads to their academic success growing by leaps and bounds.” As in Allston-Brighton, the College Success Academy’s East Boston efforts will be accomplished through close partnership with a local public school. Principal Jordan Weymer of the Donald McKay K-8 School is thrilled to welcome Steppingstone to the neighborhood.

“The families, students, and teachers of the McKay School have been clamoring for a partner like Steppingstone,” he says. “This partnership will fill a void that has existed for far too long: the lack of rigorous, out-of-school time activities designed to increase the academic performance of all students.”

With admission season right around the corner, the College Success Academy will begin outreach to families at the McKay School this fall. We look forward to welcoming the first group of East Boston Scholars to College Success Academy classes next summer.


Posted in 2014