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East Boston school wins $100,000 prize for steady improvement

The James Otis Elementary School in East Boston on Wednesday won the $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The James Otis Elementary School in East Boston on Wednesday won the $100,000 Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize for demonstrating rapid improvement on standardized tests.

The Otis beat out two other finalists for the prize, which is named after a former Boston superintendent and is given out by EdVestors, a Boston education nonprofit. The two other finalists, New Mission High in Hyde Park and the PJ Kennedy Elementary in East Boston, received $30,000 a piece.

The prize was based on results from standardized tests for a five-year period before the pandemic created disruptions in learning. The nonprofit identified several factors behind the Otis’ steady improvement, including, strong school leadership, collaboration with families, and partnerships with local universities and community organizations, particularly in the areas of teacher training and programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.


“The James Otis Elementary School in East Boston is a shining example of how a culture of collaboration and respect can empower students and families, boost academic outcomes, and prove foundational for navigating through difficult times,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, president and CEO of EdVestors, in a statement. “As we look to reimagine learning in the coming years, all three School on the Move finalists help provide a roadmap for new approaches in support of student learning and continued school improvement.”

The Otis serves 410 students, including about three quarters of whom are non-native English speakers.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as this year’s School on the Move,” said Paula Cerqueira-Goncalves, principal of the Otis. “We believe that together we can make a difference in the lives of all our students with the support of our families and partners and ensure every single student reaches his or her fullest potential.”

James Vaznis can be reached at james.vaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.