At LPS, our ultimate goal is to provide all students with a rich, high-quality education that mirrors the suburban experience and closes the achievement gap between our students and their suburban peers. We seek to achieve this through a common vision for high-quality instruction, a re-imagined urban school system, and collaboration with the Lawrence community.
What do we want for our students?
Vision for Students: Four Pillars of High-Quality Teaching & Learning
LPS schools share a common vision for excellent teaching and learning. By embracing the district’s Four Pillars, our schools support students to successfully graduate from college or enter the workforce:
Rigorous Standards. Rigorous, common-core aligned curriculum standards to ensure our students are learning appropriate content to stay on track at their grade level.
High-quality enrichment. Access to rich programs such as the arts, musical theater, step dancing, and robotics. These activities increase student engagement and impart critical social and life skills.
Effort / Mindset. Demonstrating to students that hard work matters and that effort directly translates into increased proficiency.
Critical Thinking. Working to improve the quality and rigor of classroom lessons, moving beyond textbook teaching to higher-order activities and lessons that engage students at a deeper level.
How will we get there?
Reimagining the School District: Open Architecture
Superintendent Jeffrey C. Riley has developed a new model for managing the school system called open architecture. Under this model, LPS has cleared out bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all policies at the central office (reducing central office by over 30%) and given all schools an unprecedented level of autonomy over educational decisions.
The open architecture approach allows for a variety of school types within the district. Of the district’s 33 schools, 80% are traditional schools, while 20% are new or turnaround schools that have adopted an innovative model or are managed by non-profit organizations. All of the district’s schools—including schools managed by charter operators—are AFT unionized, neighborhood-based, and follow a common set of policies to ensure a fair, supportive system for LPS students, families and staff. There are no “carve outs”—all schools play by the same rules on a level playing field.
District and union leadership have embraced a model that shifts the power to the schools, where principals and teacher leadership teams design school programs to best meet their students’ needs. Each school team sets its own curriculum, calendar, and professional development, while school leaders have full budget and hiring autonomy. Central office assumes a support role, managing operational tasks so school leaders can focus on teaching and learning.
Who has a voice?
Enlisting Teachers, Partners, Families, and Community
The district has pursued system changes in partnership with local leaders and stakeholders. We believe in enlisting people in the process of improvement. The Superintendent meets regularly with the parent teacher organization presidents’ council, a roundtable of local non-profits, the school committee, and the mayor. Community organizations work closely with our schools in a variety of capacities, including as key expanded learning time partners. After negotiating an innovative contract, LPS leadership and the Lawrence Teachers Union are working in partnership on efforts to increase teacher voice and raise student achievement. Individual teachers are engaged in a variety of ways, from the Superintendent’s Teacher Leader Cabinet to teacher leadership teams at each school.