Defining our Path
A Strategic Plan for Education in Worcester 2018-2023A LETTER TO THE WORCESTER COMMUNITY
Dear Worcester Students, Families, and Community,
It is with great pleasure that we share Defining Our Path: A Strategic Plan for Education in Worcester. Worcester Public Schools (WPS) is well-known for many of its successful practices, which foster real-world skills and student achievement. While we celebrate our district’s progress, we also recognize that there is a continuous need for improvement in our schools and in the outcomes for all our students. We understand that the continued success of the district’s mission can only be accomplished through a community-wide vision coupled with a commitment to action and sustained engagement.
The strategic planning process was a unique experience. In many strategic plans, the school district is the singular driving force. However, our community seized the opportunity to assemble a diverse group of community leaders—with invaluable support from the school district—to consider ways to address the needs of Worcester students. Our approach recognizes the central role of the schools in the life of our community. It acknowledges the vital need for all sectors of the city to fully support WPS, as well as the shared work required to achieve educational excellence in all schools for all students.
Conversations among community leaders, families, educators, and students during the process forged new relationships and deepened existing networks. We also expanded our community’s capacity to consider a broad range of perspectives, data, and outstanding educational practices. Through subcommittees, representative of multiple stakeholder groups, we explored critical areas of need identified by the community and developed recommendations for improvement. We engaged state and national education leaders to highlight a range of education best practices that could be replicated. Our work was effective, but not without challenges. We delved into the nuances of quantitative data; considered the experiences, hopes, and concerns of stakeholders; and wrestled with very real financial and contractual constraints. We worked beyond mere accommodation to deep consensus. Our most important takeaways were that policies, practices, and initiatives should drive toward the district’s student-centered goals and that substantive changes in the finances of the district are essential for high-quality, system-wide improvements.
Our plan is aspirational, inspirational, and innovative. In some cases, it is admittedly but intentionally ambitious. It considers new approaches to school and district design, teaching and learning, and finances. The plan recognizes that the work of schools is about both the transfer of knowledge, skills, and information and the fostering of safe and nurturing learning environments that support social and emotional skills critical for student well-being.
Defining Our Path: A Strategic Plan for Education in Worcester articulates a commitment to continue Worcester’s renaissance by placing the city’s children, and the future that they represent, at the center of our shared work. It calls for the resources of a community, not just a school district, to fulfill that mission. Achieving the goals of the plan will demand hard work and unflagging support from each sector of the city. It will also require the dedicated involvement of the state. We must ensure state funding levels realize the vision of the 1993 Education Reform Act and guarantee equitable outcomes in both high-wealth and low-wealth communities. The result of these actions will be well worth the effort—a system of schools focused on and able to educate every child for sound futures as positive contributors to our community and beyond.
Toward a Brighter Future,
Jennifer Davis Carey & Timothy J. McGourthy
Strategic Plan Co-Chairs
In Collaboration with
Superintendent, Worcester Public Schools