Clarence R. Edwards Middle School
In Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, Edwards Middle School serves students in grades 6 through 8. The school enrolls an incredibly diverse population, and approximately 90 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Edwards prides itself on its Expanded Learning Time program; its emphasis on the performing arts; its participation in the Citizen Schools program, in which sixth-graders have semi-weekly apprenticeships with community professionals; and its partnerships with local universities, businesses and community organizations.
In the 2006-2007 school year, Edwards was one of 10 pilot schools in the state to begin participating in the Expanded Learning Time program. Previously, students not participating in extracurricular programs, like band or musical theater, left school at 1:30 p.m. Now, all students are required to stay in school until at least 3:45 p.m. While research on the relationship between classroom time and student learning is ongoing, students at Edwards and the other schools in the Expanded Learning Time program showed significant improvement throughout the year. They scored ahead of state averages on state assessments in English, math and science. Given the increase in student achievement, the program is expanding across Massachusetts. With students spending more time in school, Edwards has added another academic class in addition to core academic areas. School staff can also offer more support for struggling students as well as more opportunities for students to participate in music, theater, dance and visual arts.
Edwards works closely with Harvard University, Boston College and Boston University; each institution offers professional development classes to teachers, counselors and administrators. The school has garnered its share of positive press: It was featured in a 2009 Harvard Education Letter article about the benefits of expanded learning time, it was profiled in a 2007 Education Week story, and it has received mentions in USA Today and the Boston Globe.
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