A more accurate headline for the Jan. 3 Metro article “Departures at South Boston charter school raise concerns” would have been “Former Gavin Middle School students excel at new in-district charter school.”
Students at UP Academy nearly doubled their MCAS scores in both English and math, while the school’s withdrawal rate was 19 percent — below the 22 percent district average and the Gavin’s 25 percent historical withdrawal rate. Moreover, the school’s students had the highest math growth rate of any middle school in the state. The way this measure is calculated by the state rebuts any claim that our school’s MCAS improvements came as the result of serving a different student population.
As misleading as the headline was, the article noted that critics of UP Academy said 17 Gavin students with disabilities were “barred” from attending UP Academy. This criticism is patently false. No Gavin students were ever barred from enrolling in UP.
The 17 pupils mentioned were enrolled in the BEST program at the Gavin, one of two specialized programs in the district for students with multiple handicaps. Under state law, in-district charter schools must base enrollment strictly on a lottery following a transition period. As a result, Boston Public Schools chose to separate the BEST program from UP Academy to guarantee students with multiple handicaps continued access to a specialized program.
The families of all BEST pupils were given a choice between enrolling at UP Academy or remaining in the BEST program. UP Academy is proud to serve all of our students, including the 115 students with disabilities who are currently enrolled.