Boston distributes Chicago study

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A study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research on the quality of student work is better known in Boston than in Chicago.

Last school year, the Boston Plan For Excellence, an independent school reform organization, published excerpts of the report in Focus, a newsletter that goes to all Boston public school teachers and administrators. The headline was: “What Boston Can Learn from Chicago.”

The Boston Plan also published excerpts in a four-page report to the community, entitled Great Expectations, that it distributed in an issue of the Boston Globe.

In Focus, the Boston Plan said it was taking the “unusual step” of reproducing a study from another city “in part because the findings can deepen the process of looking at student work, in which so many Boston schools are engaged. We also liked the fact the study included many examples of assignments and student work, making it immediately useful to teachers and parents.”

Since the issue appeared, the Boston Plan has been swamped with requests for additional copies, reports Mary Ann Cohen, the organization’s communications director and the editor of Focus.

Colleges and philanthropic foundations have called, and Boston schools have called to get more copies for teachers, she says.

“We get calls from districts asking for a copy for each principal in their districts,” reports Cohen. “We have even gotten requests for copies from corporations who say they are rethinking their school partnerships.”

In Chicago, the Consortium reports requests for the study also climbed after Focus published the excerpts.

“We don’t have exact numbers, but we got hundreds of requests,” says Kay Kirkpatrick, the Consortium’s communications director. “And, wow, we were delighted that people were paying attention to it. We thank Boston.”

Says Cohen: “They teased us, saying we’ve made them famous.”

“We just came across it [the study] and thought it would be valuable, and it really has been,” she adds.

Kirkpatrick says the Consortium itself distributed about 500 copies to university colleagues, legislators, foundations and others interested in education research.