• About the Project
  • Indicators: What We Measure
    Sectors
    What is Civic Vitality?
    Civic vitality reflects a community’s connectedness and bonds of trust, or social capital, created through neighborliness, friendship, kinship, civil discourse and collaboration. These are strengthened by places to gather, open access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, effective leadership and philanthropic giving -- although these same assets can be used to exclude outsiders.

    More...

    What is Cultural Life & the Arts?
    The Cultural Life & the Arts sector reflect a community’s cultural vibrancy –it includes all of its diverse ethnic traditions and festivals, opportunities for art and music making and enjoyment, venues for the performing and visual arts, architectural heritage, museums and public art.

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    What is the Economy?
    An economy is the sum total of an area’s production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services resulting from investments of labor and financial capital in the use of that area’s natural, human and technological resources.  

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    What is Education?
    Education is the process by which skills, knowledge and values are transmitted from teacher to student while, at the same time, each student’s potential to think and act logically, creatively and critically is being developed.  

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    What is Environment & Energy?
    The environment encompasses an area’s natural resources – land, air, fresh and marine water, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and the commercial and recreational uses they support – and their intersection with energy sources for and emissions from transportation, commerce, industry and home heating and cooling systems, along with the local effects of global climate change.

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    What is Health?
    For an individual, health is physical and mental freedom from acute illness, chronic disease and injury reflecting a good diet, adequate exercise, environmental and behavioral safety and genetic good luck. Individual health outcomes are greatly affected by socio-economic and community-level factors such as access to affordable healthy food, opportunities for exercise, recreation, supportive relationships, degree of exposure to environmental toxins and unsafe conditions, and the quality of one’s education and housing.

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    What is Housing?
    Housing meets the basic human need for shelter; for most households it is a major expense or investment that can lead to economic security or insecurity. Housing is also a fundamental building block of livable, vibrant communities and, when blighted it is a source of community destabilization.

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    What is Public Safety?
    Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime.
    What is Technology?
    Technology is the development and use of tools, methods and skills to achieve a goal. From arrowheads and the control of fire to ploughs, wheels, engines and computer chips, new technologies change our relationship to the natural world and to the ways in which we live, work, connect and create. 

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    What is Transportation?

    Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods – from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.

    More...

    Crosscut Topics
    Boston Neighborhoods
    Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  
    Children & Youth

    Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.

    Competitive Edge

    The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building.  With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic  and diversified knowledge economy.

    Fiscal Health
    This cross-cut filter measures fiscal health in several ways: by tracking municipal, state and federal funding as well as levels of philanthropic giving to the nonprofit sector.  In a high-cost city such as Boston, the financial health of individuals and families is another important measure of the fiscal stability and health of the region.
    Race & Ethnicity
    Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status.  People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement.
    Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity.  Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc.  All of these factors increase the quality of life.

    View the Entire Framework
    Complete Framework

    The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region.  The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.

    View the Complete Framework of Indicators

  • Our Reports: Key Findings
    City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

    The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.

    Read Our Past Publications Chronicling Boston from 2000-2009

    The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region.  These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.

    The Measure of Poverty: A Boston Indicators Project 2011 Special Report

    The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011.  Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty.  The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.

  • Community Snapshots: Boston Neighborhoods to the Region
    Neighborhoods & Planning Districts

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.

    City of Boston

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  


    Metro Boston Region
    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) region includes 101 cities and towns. Learn about the region.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about the MAPC region.
    Massachusetts

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.

  • Tools & Resources: Data, Mapping & Research
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.

    Explore our digital library, which archives research reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, blog posts, media coverage, and more about Boston, the region, nation and world.  Search all by using our sector and crosscut topics as filters.
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.


    Find other data-rich websites and analytical tools.
  • Shaping The Future: Civic Agenda 2030 & Innovations
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    Greater Boston's Emerging Civic Agenda, created by hundreds of experts, policy makers and community stakeholders over ten years, offers as set of coherent data-driven strategies to move the region forward.  It is organized in four areas, with goals and measurable milestones.
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet?  The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world. 

    Nominate a breakthrough!


Children & Youth

Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary—when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school. As the most diverse segment of Boston’s population – more than 75% of color in 2010 – Boston’s children and youth need adult support of many kinds to develop to their full potential.  Creating safe, nurturing places where all children can grow and develop their unique gifts is a responsibility of all adult members of a society. This cross-cut filter provides key information on the status of Boston’s children across all sectors, making it possible to track progress and understand challenges in critical areas such as health, education, safety, housing, community participation and access to resources such as open space, creative outlets, and education. 

Indicators in this topic:
2.3.1 Distribution of Arts Organizations in Relation to Child Population + collapse
Why is this important?
The location of cultural facilities has a direct impact on the people they attract and the ways in which they are utilized.  Boston, like all great cities, enjoys a concentration of world-class, major and mid-sized cultural facilities in or near its downtown center.  The distribution of neighborhood-scale facilities in proximity to the concentration of children —with most children unable or not permitted to travel great distances — indicates the potential for cultural enrichment closer to home.

How are we doing?
Boston continues to have a higher concentration of arts and cultural facilities in the neighborhoods with fewer children.  Conversely, those areas of the city with more children and more families have fewer local options for arts appreciation and activities. 

Boston’s children are highly concentrated in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and East Boston.  However, according to the New England Foundation for the Arts, there are just 59 cultural organization in Roxbury, 115 in Dorchester, 39 in East Boston and 23 in Hyde Park.  By Comparison, there are nearly 300 in Back Bay and the South End and more than 230 in Fenway/Kenmore which are home to fewer of Boston's children

Enlarge Location of Arts Facilities and Children, Boston Neighborhood
2.6.1 Teachers Dedicated to the Arts in Boston Public Schools + collapse
Why is this important?
The number of teachers dedicated to the visual arts, music and theater in Boston’s public schools is a measure of the City’s ability to ensure direct participation in and access to quality art as a basic part of learning for all children.


How are we doing?
As of 2010-11, Boston Public Schools employed 170 full-time equivalent arts teachers up from 146 in 2007-08 and 143 in 1009-10.  A majority of BPS schools have fewer than 3 full-time equivalent arts teachers, however Orchard Gardens employed 5 arts teachers, the Curley K-8 employed 6, and Boston Arts Academy--the city's only public high school dedicated to the arts--employed 12 full-time equivalent arts teachers.

Enlarge BPS Arts Teachers
2.6.2 Students Receiving In-School Arts Instruction + collapse
Why is this important?
Arts education has been shown to increase creative problem solving and improve academic outcomes for children and youth.  However, weekly year-long arts instruction is often scaled back or eliminated in times of budget constraints.

How are we doing?
Since the launch of the Arts Expansion Initiative in 2009, more than 9,000 additional Boston Public School students received weekly in-school arts education.  As of 2011, 81% of students in kindergarten through grade eight had weekly, year-long arts classes, up from 67% in 2009, and nearly half of all high school students received arts instruction of any kind, up from 26% in 2009. 

Enlarge Percent of Students Receiving Weekly Arts Education
2.6.2 Children and Youth Participation in Afterschool Arts Programming + collapse
Why is this important?
While in-school arts are vital to a complete and well-rounded education, out-of-school arts offer opportunities for learning and engagement during the crucial hours following school dismissal and before parents or other care-givers are available.  According to research by the City of Boston’s Boston 2:00-to-6:00 After-School Initiative, now part of Boston After School & Beyond, quality after-school programming enhances children’s intellectual and emotional growth and peer relationship skills.   Children are less likely to make irresponsible decisions with supervised after-school support. Arts activities expand the range of offerings available, providing a highly popular and important counterbalance to training for success on standardized tests.

How are we doing?
Though data on participation does is not currently available, there are more than 100 organizations providing after school arts and cultural programming to youth of all ages according to BostoNavigator.  The greatest number of organizations are located in Dorchester, with nearly 40, followed by a combined 29 in Central Boston, Back Bay and the South End, there were 13 organizations listed in Roxbury, and less than 10 in all other neighborhoods of Boston.  BostoNavigator provides detailed programming information for all of Boston's out-of-school time programs and opportunities.

Enlarge Participation in Out of School Arts
3.3.5 Families Living in Poverty + collapse
Why is this important?
Changes in the poverty rate not only indicate the overall strength of a region's economy but reflect the impact of economic activity on historically lower-income municipalities, neighborhoods or residents. A sustainable economy should provide enough jobs that pay wages high enough to keep families out of poverty. While the federal poverty level is often dismissed as being too low, or not representative of the true costs of living in a high-cost city such as Boston, tracking trends in poverty rates according to this standard provides a measure of progress made.
How are we doing?
Boston’s poverty rate in 2010 was 23.3% and has remained at or near 20% since 1990.  Among children under 18, the poverty rate was 30% in 2010, also relatively unchanged since 1990.

Race/Ethnicity: poverty rates were highest among Boston’s Latino population in 2010, at 35.4%, followed by 29.5% of African Americans, 26% of Asians and 16% white, non-Latino Bostonians.

Educational Attainment: poverty is highly correlated with educational attainment—38% of Bostonians without a high school diploma were in poverty in 2010 as were 20% of high school graduates and 18% of those with some college compared to 7% of Bostonians with a BA or higher.

Family Structure: about 10% of Boston’s families are single-parent families living at or below poverty and of all families in poverty 87% are headed by a single parent.  This correlation cuts across all racial/ethnic lines: 93% of African American families in poverty are headed by as single parent as well as 97% of Latino families, 76% of white families and 58% of Asian families in poverty.

Enlarge Percent of Children in Families Below Poverty Enlarge Children in Married Families Living in Poverty Enlarge Children with Single Moms Living in Poverty
4.1.2 4th and 8th Grade NAEP Results + collapse
Why is this important?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only continuing national assessment of student achievement in core subjects such as mathematics, reading and writing.  As the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP scores are the common metric for all 50 states and 18 Trial Urban District Areas to compare and track student progress and achievement over time.

How are we doing?

In 2011, Massachusetts ranked first in the nation in reading and math for both fourth and eighth graders for the fourth consecutive testing year, but with stark and persistent achievement gaps by race/ethnicity and income.

  • 4th math: With a 2011 average scaled score of 253, 58% of 4th graders were proficient or higher in NAEP math, up from 31% in 2000.  However, 76% of Asian and 67% of white students were proficient compared to 32% of Latino and 27% of African American students.  Similarly, 70% of non-low income students were proficient in math compared of 36% of low income students.
  • 4th reading: the average scaled score increased to 237 in 2011, up from 228 in 2003, and 50% were proficient or above.  However, proficiency rates for white and Asian students were more than two times higher than African American and Latino students: 59% and 56% compared to 24% and 23%, respectively.  Sixty-three percent of non-low income students were proficient compared to 25% of low income students.
  • 8th math: Fifty-one percent of students scored proficient or above in 2011, compared to 30% in 2000 and the average scaled score of 299 was 17 points higher than the US average.  However, 21% of Latino and 26% of African American 8th graders were proficient in math compared to 58% of white and 76% of Asian students.  Over 60% of non-low income students were proficient compared to 29% of low income 8th graders.
  • 8th reading: reading proficiency rates increase to 46% in 2011, up from 43% in 2003.  However, 62% of Asian and 53% of white students were proficient or above compared to 20% of African American and 18% of Latino students.  
Enlarge 4th Grade NAEP Results Enlarge 4th Grade Reading Enlarge 8th Grade Math Enlarge 8th Grade NAEP Results
4.2.1 Access to High Quality Early Education + collapse
Why is this important?
For most children, school readiness begins during child care, preschool and kindergarten, where both formal and informal learning and socialization take place. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredits child care centers that meet quality standards for curriculum, facilities, nutrition, staffing, administration, teaching practices and relationship among teachers and parents.   

Boston Public Schools have set a goal of 100% accreditation for early education programs by 2019 and Boston’s Thrive in 5 initiative has set the goal of 100% accreditation for all public and private programs by 2023.

How are we doing?
Boston has more than 28,000 registered public and private early education facilities ranging from large group centers serving over 300 children to small family providers with just two or three available seats.  As of 2011 there were 42 providers in Boston with a capacity of over 300 children and nearly 800 providers with a capacity of fewer than 10 children.

The greatest number of providers are located in Dorchester with 222 facilities, Roslindale with 98 and Roxbury with 97.  However, the greatest number of places for children as measured by capacity are Dorchester serving up to 4,346, Roxbury with a capacity of 2,276, Roslindale with 1,481 places and Jamaica Plain with 1,451 places.

Kindergarten registrations increased to more than 2,300 in SY 2012-13, up 25% from about 1,800 the previous year.  As of the start of SY 2012-13 BPS had added 12 new kindergarten classrooms to accommodate the increase in registrations, but as many as 300 children did not have kindergarten placement.

Enlarge Boston's Early Education Facilities by Type Enlarge Number of K1 Seats in BPS versus Number of Four Year Olds Education, PreK
4.2.2 Enrollment by School District + collapse
Why is this important?
Students with special learning, behavioral and physical needs, English Language Learners and those from economically challenged homes often require additional classroom supports to help them achieve at their highest potential.  These supports can range from extra one-on-one tutoring to highly specialized, separate classroom environments.
How are we doing?
Boston has among the highest degree of student need in the state: as of the 2010-11 school year, 75% of students were low income, 20% had a learning, behavioral or physical disability, more than 43% were English Language Learners and 28% had Limited English Proficiency.
Enlarge Enrollment of African-American Students by School Education, ELL Enlarge Enrollment of Asian Students by School Education, ELL Enlarge Enrollment of White Students by School Education, ELL Enlarge Enrollment of Latino Students by School Education, ELL
4.2.3 Boston Public Schools Enrollment of Special Populations + collapse
Why is this important?
Students with special learning, behavioral and physical needs, English Language Learners and those from economically challenged homes often require additional classroom supports to help them achieve at their highest potential.  These supports can range from extra one-on-one tutoring to highly specialized, separate classroom environments.
How are we doing?
Boston has among the highest degree of student need in the state: as of the 2010-11 school year, 75% of students were low income, 20% had a learning, behavioral or physical disability, more than 43% were English Language Learners and 28% had Limited English Proficiency.

Low Income: Within BPS, the percent of students who are low income ranges from 28.5% of students at the Boston Latin School to more than 95% at the Donald McKay K-8 school in East Boston. 

Students with Disabilities: BPS has a number that only serve students with disabilities, as well as the Lyon K-8 and High School that have full immersion and more than 35% of students have a disability while a number of schools—including the 3 exam schools—have fewer than 5% students with disabilities. 

English Language Learners: Boston International High School is dedicated to serving the ELL population, and 100% of students are non-native English speakers, while at BPS schools such as the Otis School, the Curtis Guild School and the McKay School, more than 80% of students are English Language Learners compared to a number of Boston’s Charter schools where fewer than 10% of students are English Language Learners.

Enlarge Enrollment of Students with Disabilities Education, SWD Enlarge Enrollment of English Language Learners Education, ELL Enlarge Enrollment of Low Income Students
4.5.2 Teachers who reflect the diversity and academic needs of students + collapse
Why is this important?

National studies have shown that a diverse and culturally responsive team of teachers can positively impact student achievement, particularly among students of color.  A teacher corps that reflects the racial/ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity of Boston’s children is an important ingredient in creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment in which all students can learn.

How are we doing?

Race/Ethnicity: In SY2011-12, 87% of BPS students were of color compared to 38% of all BPS teachers.  By race/ethnicity: 47% of students and 10% of teachers were Latino; 35% of students and 23% of teachers were African American; 8% of students and 5% of teachers were Asian; and13% of students were white compared to 62% of teachers.

Linguistic Diversity: BPS students come from 101 different countries and speak 77 different languages.  While more than 44% of all students are English Language Learners, just 10% of the district’s teachers are specialized for ELL teaching.

Special Education: BPS is well-balanced in serving Students with Disabilities.  About  20% of BPS students have a special cognitive, learning, behavioral or physical need and about 20% of all teachers are licensed in Special Education.

Enlarge Percent African American Teachers and Students by School Enlarge Percent Asian Teachers and Students by School Enlarge Percent White Teachers and Students by School Enlarge Percent Latino Teachers and Students by School
4.6.2 Non Profit Partners with Boston Public Schools + collapse
Why is this important?

Nonprofit organizations focusing on education play an important role in providing access to tutoring, programming and mentoring for students, teachers and families.  The sector also plays an important role in education advocacy and research.

How are we doing?

Boston is home to more than 700 education-related nonprofit organizations.  These range from large institutions, such as colleges and universities, to literacy volunteer organizations to education advocacy organizations such as Strategies for Children.

Enlarge Education Nonprofit Organizations, Boston
4.6.3 Out-of-School Time Recreation Opportunities + collapse
Why is this important?

Since children spend less than 20% of their time in school, time spent out of school is critical to their development and learning. Experts cite three key reasons for investing in after-school activities.

How are we doing?

According to BostoNavigator, there are more tan 120 facilities across the city of Boston providing hundreds of different programming options for out of school time activity and learning.  The Boston Center for Youth and Families also runs 34 different sites across the city, including pools that are open seasonally.  Together, City and private out-of-school facilities provide programming in the arts, sports, college prep, technology and media literacy, jobs an career exploration among many other options.  

Enlarge Out-of-School Time Recreation Opportunities
4.7.2 Stable Enrollment + collapse
Why is this important?

Stable enrollment of students who progress through the education pipeline at grade level contribute to a stronger, more stable school and classroom community and contribute to a decreased risk of dropping out.

How are we doing?

Mobility: The percent of students transferring in and out of Boston Public Schools was 21% in 2011, down from 25% over the previous four years.  A number of schools, 57, had a student mobility rate below 20% but in as many as 11 schools, more than 50% of the student body did not complete a full academic year at a single school.

Retention: 5.8% of BPS students were made to repeat a grade in 2011, down from a high of 7.4% in 2005.   However, in 12 BPS schools more than 15% and as many as 25% of students had to repeat a grade. 

Enlarge Annual Retention Rates by School Education, Retention Enlarge Mobility Rates
4.7.3 Low Suspension and Expulsion Rate + collapse
Why is this important?

Suspensions and truancy contribute to lost learning time and are early indicators of drop-out risk

How are we doing?

Suspensions: The BPS district-wide suspension rate has remained around 6% for the last few academic years, but is down from near 9% in 2007.  However, a number of schools had a suspension rate near 18% or higher in 2011 including a number of BPS high schools and charter schools.

Truancy: the BPS district average truancy rate has remained at about 1%.  However, 6 schools in Boston--including 5 charter schools--had an annual truancy rate greater than 4% in 2011.

Dropouts: Annual dropout rates in BPS dropped 6.4% in 2011, the lowest rate on record.  However, at as many as 28 schools (both district and charter schools) the annual dropout rate was greater than 15%.

Enlarge Annual Expulsion Rates by School Enlarge Annual Truancy Rates by School Enlarge Annual Dropout Rates by School
4.8.1 First Grade DIEBLS Reading Benchmark + collapse
Why is this important?

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) measure a child’s progress in reading and comprehension by benchmarking Initial Sounds Fluency, Letter Naming Fluency, Phoeneme Segmentation Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, Oral Reading Fluency, Retell Fluency and Word Use Fluency.  Achieving “Benchmark Status” is an indicator that a child is on-track to learn at grade level.  The Acceleration Agenda has set a goal of 80% proficiency by 2014.

How are we doing?

In SY2011 67% of BPS first graders were reading at or above grade level on DIBELS, up from 64% in 2010 and 57% in 2009.  However, this fell below the Acceleration Agenda target of 75% in 2011 on the way to 80% proficient or above by 2014.

Enlarge First Grade DIEBLS Reading
4.8.2 Third Grade Reading Proficiency + collapse
Why is this important?
According to ReadBoston, a City of Boston initiative, “Until third grade, children learn to read; after third grade, they read to learn. Studies have found that if children do not learn to read by the 3rd grade, they will struggle throughout Middle and High School. Proficient readers entering 4th grade are more likely to graduate from High School and continue on to post-secondary education.”  The Acceleration Agenda has set a goal of 85% proficient by 2014.
How are we doing?

In 2011, 35% of third graders were Proficient or Advanced in MCAS English Language Arts, nearly 40 percentage points below the Acceleration Agenda target of 72%.  Since 2011, third grade proficiency rates have not risen above 37%, driven largely by a deep, persistent achievement gap. 

  • Race/Ethnicity: In 2011, 62% of white students and 51% of Asian students scored Proficient in third grade reading compared to 31% of Latino students and 28% of African American students.  Since 2001, the proficiency gap between white and Asian students and African American and Latino students has remained between 20 and 30 percentage points.  However, across Boston there are schools where all students out-perform the district average including the Edward Brooke Charter School where 82% of African American students scored proficient and the Ellis Mendell where 82% of Latino students scored proficient.
  • Low Income: 31% of low income third graders were proficient readers in 2011.  Because more than 75% of Boston’s students are low income, their performance tends to track the district average.  However, at the Edward Brooke Charter School 79% of low income students were proficient as well as 66% at the Warren-Prescott and Perkins schools.
  • English Language Learners: 27% of ELL third graders were proficient readers in 2011 up from 21% in 2009 and 17% in 2007.
  • Students with Disabilities: 10% scored proficient in 2011, down from 14% in 2010.  

Enlarge Third Grade Reading Proficiency, African American Students Education, Third Reading Enlarge Third Grade Reading Proficiency, Asian Students Education, Third Reading Enlarge Third Grade Reading Proficiency, Latino Students Education, Third Reading Enlarge Third Grade Reading Proficiency, White Students Education, Third Reading
4.8.3 Eighth Grade Math Proficiency + collapse
Why is this important?

Mastery of math in the 8th grade—particularly Algebra—is considered a critical first step towards college for students.  Achieving proficiency in math develops a solid educational foundation for students to build upon throughout high school and beyond.

In addition to proficiency, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education reports on student progress from one year to the next.  The Student Growth Percentile benchmarks a student’s progress against his or her academic peers and ranks on a scale from 0 to 100.  A growth score above the 60th percentile is considered as out-performance of peers while a score below the 40th percentile signifies under-performance comared to other academically similar students.  A median Student Growth Percentile is reported on by district, school, grade and sub group.

How are we doing?

8th Grade Math Proficiency & Growth: in 2011, 34% of BPS 8th graders were proficient or Advanced in MCAS Math, unchanged from 2010 but up from 28% in 2009. 

  • Race/Ethnicity: 76% of Asian students and 60% of shite students scored proficient or advanced in 2011 compared to 26% of Latino and 21% of African American students.  In 2011, only Asian students had a growth percentile above 60; all other student groups were between 40 and 60.
  • Low Income: 29% of low income eighth graders were proficient in Math compared to 51% of non-low income eighth graders, unchanged from 2010.  BPS low income students ranked in the 48th percentile for growth while non-low income students ranked in the 51st.
  • English Language Learners: 13% of ELL eighth graders were proficient in MCAS math, relatively unchanged from 14% in 2010.  ELL students ranked in the 57% percentile in growth from 2010 to 2011.
  • Students with Disabilities: just 8% were proficient or advanced in MCAS math up from 6% in 2010 and ranked in the 46th percentile for growth.

Algebra I enrollment: in 2011, 25% of non-Exam school eighth graders were enrolled in Algebra 1, up from 4% in 2009 and exceeding the Acceleration Agenda goal of 20%.

Enlarge Eighth Grade Math Proficiency, African American Students Education, Eighth Math Enlarge Eighth Grade Math Proficiency, Asian Students Education, Eighth Math Enlarge Eighth Grade Math Proficiency, Latino Students Education, Eighth Math Enlarge White Education, Eighth Math
4.9.2 Four-Year Outcomes + collapse
Why is this important?

Graduation within 4 years is often used as a measure of college preparedness, although some students—particularly late entrant English Language Learners, Substantially Separate Special Education Students and generally under-performing students —may require more than 4 years to attain a diploma. Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson has highlighted the graduation of all BPS students as a key priority in her plan, titled Proficiency, Opportunity and Efficiency: Superintendent’s Acceleration Agenda for the Boston Public Schools. Strategies to achieve this goal include increasing in-school support services for off-track students, and credit-recovery courses for Middle School students and for High School students a few credits shy of graduation.

How are we doing?

Boston's four-year high school graduation rate increased to 64.4% for the Class of 2011, up from 59% for the Class of 2006.  However, disparities persist: 58% of males graduated in four years compared to 71% of females; 57% of Latino and 62% of African American students graduated within four years compared to 77% of white and 80% of Asian students.  

Enlarge Four-Year Graduation Rates by School
4.9.3 Enrollment in Post-Secondary Education + collapse
Why is this important?

Increasing educational attainment and obtaining a Bachelor's Degree (B.A.) is perhaps the most effective strategies for personal and regional economic advancement and sustainability.  Research conducted by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies has found:

  • Young adults (16-24) with a B.A. or Higher earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those with a High School diploma;
  • Just 2.6% of young women with a B.A. or Higher are single mothers compared to nearly 18% of those who only completed high school;
  • Over a working lifetime, adults with a B.A. or Higher contribute almost $200,000 more in taxes and revenue and those with a High School Diploma.
How are we doing?

The percent of BPS high school graduates enrolling in two- or four-year higher education has increased from 53.2% of the Class of 2004 to 67% of the Class of 2010.  However, racial/ethnic disparities persist.  Among the Class of 2010 62% of Latinos and 64% of African American graduates enrolled in higher education compared to 76% of white and 82% of Asian graduates.  

A majority of BPS class of 2010 graduates enrolled in Massachusetts Colleges, 88%, as opposed to out of state colleges.  Of the graduates, 36% enrolled in a Massachusetts Community College, 20% enrolled in a UMASS campus and 6% enrolled in a State University

Enlarge Percent of Graduates Enrolling in College by School Enlarge Percent of Graduates Enrolling in Community College Enlarge Percent of Graduates Enrolled in Mass. State University Enlarge Percent of Graduates Enrolling in UMASS
4.11.1 Funding for Early Education & Care + collapse
Why is this important?

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care supports the health, well-being and development of children from the earliest ages.  As a part of the Executive Office of Education, EEC provides oversight, licensure and workforce development for early childhood educators, provides financial assistance for family child care, supports the Head Start program and engages parents and community members in the education of the youngest children.

How are we doing?

The Department of Early Education & Care received more than $506 million in funding in FY12, which is roughly the same amount received in FY10 and 11.  However, this is a reduction from the decade-long peak in FY09 when EEC received more than $569 million.

Enlarge Funding for the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care
4.11.2 Massachusetts Funding for K-12 Education + collapse
Why is this important?

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) is charged with oversight of students from grades K through 12 enrolled in 1,829 public schools, 62 Commonwealth Charter Schools, 10 Horace Mann Charter Schools and 30 Education Collaboratives as well as thousands of teachers, principals and administrators.  Chapter 70 of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act allows for a more equitable distribution of funding to school districts based on need while all other funding for K-12 education can be used for supplemental resources.

How are we doing?

Massachusetts Chapter 70 funding fell slightly in FY12 to $3.9 billion from a high of near $4.1 billion in FY11.  However, total funding is up from just over $2.9 billion in FY01.  Non-Chapter 70 funding for K-12 education has been inconsistent over the last decade, but increased in FY12 to over $511 million from $423 million in FY11.  However, funding remains below the peak of $583 million in FY09.

Despite consistently strong funding for K-12 Education, recent research has found that nearly every extra dollar allocated to school districts through Chapter 70 has been off-set by the increasing cost of employee health care.

Enlarge Chapter 70 Funding Enlarge Non-Chapter 70 Funding
5.3.1 Public Health Stresses on Children + collapse
Why is this important?

Access to clean air and healthy homes are essential to nurturing healthy children with low rates of asthma and blood lead levels.  However, pollutants emitted by diesel buses and trains, automobiles, and trucks, as well as by certain businesses such as auto repair shops and hazardous waste-related enterprises, are often linked poor child health outcomes in many low-income communities and communities of color. 

How are we doing?
The percent of Boston's children with elevated blood lead levels fell to less than 1% in 2010, down dramatically from 13.5% in 1995.  However, the highest rates for children were in Allston/Brighton (1.5%), Mattapan (1.4%) and North Dorchester.

Child hospitalizations due to asthma fell slightly from 2008 to 2009--most recent year available--but with persistent racial/ethnic disparities.  Hospitalizations for all children ages two and under fell from 13.2 to 11.7 per 1,000 and for children ages three to five fell from 8.8 to 8.4 per 1,000.  However, among children two and under hospitalizations per 1,000 were much higher for African Americans (16.5) and Latinos (12.3) than among white (8.3) and Asian (4.0) children.  Similarly among three to five year olds, the rate per 1,000 was 13 among African Americans and 8.2 among Latinos compared to 5.4 among Asians and 2.7 among white children.

Enlarge Percent of Boston Teens Who Have Ever Been Diagnosed with Asthma Enlarge Percent Children with Elevated Lead Levels
6.4.1 Maternal Health + collapse
Why is this important?

A lifetime of healthy outcomes begins before birth with good prenatal care.  Women receiving adequate prenatal care are more likely to deliver a full-term baby at a health birth-weight which reduces the risk for developmental delays and long-term health problems.

How are we doing?

More than 75% of all mothers received adequate prenatal care in 2009, a rate that has remained relatively consistent over the last decade with little variation by race/ethnicity.

Enlarge Mothers Smoking Enlarge Percent of Births Receiving Adequate Prenatal Care
6.4.2 Healthy Birth + collapse
Why is this important?

A baby who is carried to full term and born at a healthy weight reduces the risk of infant mortality, later developmental and educational delays, and a number of adult health problems such as asthma, high blood pressure and type II diabetes.

How are we doing?
Preterm births: the percent of Boston babies born premature (less than 37 weeks gestation) was 9% in 2009 and has not exceeded 11% over the decade. 

Low birth-weight: the percent of babies born at a low birth-weight (less than 5 pounds 8 ounces) has remained between 8.5% and 9.5% from 2000 to 2009.  However, rate of low birth-weight babies born to African American mothers has been consistently higher than all others: 28% higher than Asian, 34% higher than Latino and 38% higher than white rates.

Infant mortality rate: Boston’s infant mortality rate was 6.5 per 1,000 live births, down from a high of 8.4 per 1,000 in 1997.  Though the rate for African Americans has consistently been the highest, the rate fell from about 15 per 1,000 in 2008 to 7.7 per 1,000 in 2009, roughly equivalent to the Latino rate but still 1.5 times higher than the white rate.

Enlarge Low Birthweight by Race/Ethnicity
6.4.3 Healthy Childhood & Adolescence + collapse
Why is this important?

A healthy childhood is the foundation for a healthy adolescence and adulthood.  Low rates of asthma, lead poisoning and obesity speak to the quality of environment in which our children live, improve school absenteeism and reduce the risk for later preventable chronic diseases.

How are we doing?

Lead: The percent of Boston's children with elevated blood lead levels fell from 13.5% in 1995 to less than 1% in 2010.

Asthma: The percent of Boston teens who have ever been diagnosed with asthma increased from 22% in 2005 to 28% in 2011.  Rates increased the most among Latinos, from 19.8% to 27%, and African Americans, from 24% to 30%.

Overweight/Obesity: After climbing from 27% in 1999 to 34% in 2005, the percent of BPS high school students who are overweight or obese fell slightly to 32% in 2011.

Enlarge Percent Children with Elevated Lead Levels Enlarge Percent of Boston Teens Who Have Ever Been Diagnosed with Asthma Enlarge Percent of BPS High School Student Who are Overweight or Obese
6.4.4 Healthy Behaviors + collapse
Why is this important?

Increasing healthy behaviors of teens and adolescents reduces adult health risks and lays the foundation for life-long healthy living/

How are we doing?

Physical Education and Activity: The percent of Boston's high school students not receiving in-school Physical Education has increased from 37% in 1993 to 68% in 2011.  At the same time, the percent of BPS high school students not participating in at least 60 minutes of out-of-school physical activity declined slightly from 27% in 2007 to 25% in 2011.

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages: The percent of BPS high school students comsuing at least one soda per day fell from 27% in 2007 to 24% in 2011.  Latino students had the lowest consumption rate of 20.4% while African American teens had the highest at about 28%.

Enlarge Percent of BPS High School Students without Physical Education Enlarge Percent of BPS High School Students Without 60 Minutes of Weekly Physical Activity Enlarge Percent of BPS High School Students Who Consume at Least One Soda Per Day
6.4.5 Risky Behaviors + collapse
Why is this important?

The most serious threats to the health and safety of young people are often in the form of risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, suicidal and possessing weapons.  Reducing risky behaviors is important to ensure all youth become thriving adults.

How are we doing?

Smoking: The percent of BPS high schools students who have ever smoked a cigarette fell from 65% in 1993 to 41% in 2011. Recently, the rate has only increased among white teens from 51% in 2007 to 61% in 2011.

Alcohol Consumption: Nearly 68% of BPS high school students had ever consumed alcohol as of 2011, a rate that has changed little since 1993.

Attempted Suicide: The percent of BPS teens who have ever attempted suicide fell from 13.5% in 1993 to 8.6% in 2011. However, rates have increased among white and Asian teens since 2005.

Violent Crime: The total number of crimes by youth under 16 fell from nearly 1,900 in 2005 to less than 1,100 in 2009, the most recent data available by age.

Enlarge Percent of Teens Who Have Ever smoked a Cigarette Enlarge Percent of Teens Who Have Ever Tried Alcohol Enlarge Percent of Teens Who Have Ever Attempted Suicide Enlarge Youth Violent Crimes, Under 16
7.7.1 Homelessness Prevention + collapse
Why is this important?

The City of Boston conducts an annual census of the homeless. Undertaken each December in Boston’s homeless shelters, and in the streets, it documents the need for more permanent and temporary housing solutions.  According to Boston’s Emergency Shelter Commission, this may underestimate the actual number of homeless people in the city, since cold temperatures and lowered shelter capacity can drive people to seek shelter in places where they cannot be located or counted.

How are we doing?

Boston's total homeless population was 7,286 in 2010, falling for the second year after reaching a high of 7,681 in 2008.  However, this is more than 2,200 homeless Bostonians than in 1997 when the count was 5,016.  Even more worrisome is that 30% of the homeless population in 2010 were children under 18 compared to 1997 when 18% of the homeless were children.

Enlarge Total & Homeless Children
8.5.1 Juvenile Crime Rates + collapse
Why is this important?
Research conducted by Harvard University found that just 1% of Boston's 16-24 year olds drive over 50% of all gun-related violence in the city.  Reductions in youth violent crime not only ensures a safer experience for the city's young people, but for all residents

How are we doing?
Overall youth crime declined from a high of 9,457 incidents in 2006 to 7,101 incidents in 2009, according to the more recently available data from the Boston Police Department.  This decline was largely due to a decrease in Part 2, or quality of life, crimes committed by youth in Boston as the total number of violent and property crimes committed by those under 24 remained at about 3,000 incidents.  The decline was also driven by a falling number of incidents involving very young youth under the age of 16.

Additionally, the percent of teens in Boston who reported carrying a gun within the previous month continued to fall to just 3.3% in 2011 compared to 10% of teens in 1993.  The racial/ethnic gap has all but closed when it comes to carrying weapons: 3.9% of African Americans, 3.5% of white and 2.8% of Latinos reported carrying a gun in 2011 compared to 15.3%, 4.7% and 9.6%, respectively, in 1993.


Enlarge Youth Crime, Ages 14 to 24 Enlarge Youth Violent Crimes, Under 16 Enlarge Percent of Youth Who Have Carried a Weapon