DTM: Edward Brooke Charter (Roslindale)
“It’s nothing flashy. It’s just working at making sure we have great teaching.”
— Kimberly Steadman, co-director
- Roslindale, Mass.
- Edward Brooke Charter
- Grades K-8
- Charter (random lottery admission)
- DTM awarded in 2012
Recognized as a Dispelling the Myth school in 2012, Edward Brooke Charter School Roslindale is a leader in Boston and Massachusetts.
When students at Edward Brooke Charter School in the Roslindale area of Boston met with a visitor, they were clearly proud of what one referred to as the “vast knowledge” they have acquired. Unlike other schools they had attended, they said, they are engaged in learning almost all the time. But, another student quickly interjected, “It isn’t torture; it isn’t torture!”
The students’ comments reflect the deep thought that educators at Brooke give to the quality of teaching at their school. “We approach teaching as an intellectual enterprise,” says Kimberly Steadman, former Brooke principal and co-director of the network that has grown to replicate the school’s success. “Good teaching puts the effort on kids — getting them to really grapple and struggle with ideas.”
So, for example, math classes open by posing a problem for students who then talk through how they think about it, and social studies classes require students to write about what they are reading. “We’re trying to focus on our kids [reading closely and thinking] about the power of evidence,” Steadman said.
Founded in 2002, Brooke has as its mission getting underserved students to and through college. And it’s made a good start. About 80 percent of its students meet the qualifications for free and reduced-price meal program, and 69 percent of students are African American and 25 percent Latino. They are selected through a lottery process, and the high demand has spurred the opening of two additional Brooke Charter schools elsewhere in Boston.
The demand may reflect the fact that, in 2013, 93 percent of students at Brooke were proficient in English Language Arts and 94 percent in math, compared with 57 and 51 percent, respectively, in the state. And students aren’t just meeting the bar for proficiency — more than half the students were advanced in math, compared to only 20 percent in the state. Brooke students have high rates of acceptance to Boston’s exam and private high schools, and about 75 percent of the first cohort of Brooke graduates are enrolled in either two or four-year college.
Steadman gives all the credit to the school’s great teachers. But she adds that getting great teachers isn’t magic. “You have to really focus on teaching and professional development that help teachers get better every day.”