Leveling the Playing Field for Students and Teachers
TechBoston Academy - Boston, MA
Bruce Pontbriand, or “Dr. P.” as he is known at TechBoston Academy, a Boston Public School where he serves as the human capital coordinator and a Lead Teacher, has sat on all sides of the education table. He is an administrator and serves on the Randolph School Committee. He has worked in both independent and public schools in affluent and lower-income communities. In all of his experiences, he has found one thing to remain true across all school settings: accreditation is the only objective and equitable assessment that can ensure that schools are able to best prepare students for success in college and career.
Pontbriand believes that accreditation should be a non-negotiable for all schools, regardless of location or demonstration of excellence through test scores. “For lower performing schools, accreditation is essential in leveling the playing field for students and teachers,” Pontbriand says, adding, “Accreditation draws on best practices while providing practical recommendations for improvement for these schools.” He notes that, unlike standardized testing, accreditation also recognizes the great work that under-performing schools are doing, while helping schools identify improvements that need to be made.
For higher-performing schools, Pontbriand notes that accreditation bring schools into “conversation with a diverse community of educators across New England – urban, rural, middle class, lower class, upper class.” Pontbriand strongly believes that visiting teams of educators from many communities provides an essential perspective to any school. “You can have a world class school in terms of facilities and college placement but without a globalized view of the world, students may be unprepared,” he says. He also believes that accreditation by an independent agency that also accredits international secondary schools, like NEASC, further ensures that schools are exposed to global best practices. NEASC’s accreditation process, Pontbriand says, is a bridge that connects schools and ensures that all students are prepared for college and career. “Perspective beyond your own community,” he says, “is so critically important.”
Pontbriand also sees accreditation as the only non-partisan, objective assessment that does not change with political power shifts. “Accreditation is driven by educators, starting with the self-study process and continuing through the visiting committee reports,” says Pontbriand. He adds that other assessments are added or eliminated based on the views of those in office at any point in time, while accreditation’s value as a driver of continuous school improvement has persisted for more than 100 years. “Standardized testing only measures academic performance, while accreditation is based on clearly articulated standards around teaching, curriculum, school culture, leadership, and school resources, among others,” he says.
Beyond this, Pontbriand believes that educators also have a shared responsibility that is linked to accreditation. “Teachers and administrators have a responsibility to work for the improvement of all students, those within and outside the walls of their school,” he says. “Accreditation gives all students a seat at the table.”