Veritas Prep Charter School, a public charter school serving 243 Springfield students, is outperforming statewide school averages -- as well as traditional public schools in Springfield and other urban centers -- in MCAS results just two years after it opened.
The school uses data to drive its instruction -- data gathered from students who are in its classrooms. With a school day running from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a school year of up to 10 more days than public schools, students spend more time in the classroom than their peers in public school. They also receive daily tutoring.
The structured environment at the school includes uniforms. In a very wise move, character is explicitly taught to students at Veritas, and a reward system of “scholar dollars” is used to motivate students.
“Veritas Prep” according to its website, “is designed with a ‘no excuses’ approach based on an intensive study of the highest performing urban schools.”
Rachel M. Romano, of East Longmeadow, founded the school. She worked in Springfield public schools as a teacher and assistant principal for six years and then became principal and executive director of Framingham’s Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter School.
"We believe in our students, and we encourage them to believe in themselves," said Romano.
Schools like Veritas and other “high-performance” charter schools show that income level, socioeconomic status don’t have to be barriers to achievement.
Springfield public schools, operating under constraint of union contracts, can’t immediately replicate the entire blueprint of Veritas. But they can take steps toward it.
The school’s blend of high expectations, high structure, building character and high accountability add up to excellent results.
That’s a formula worth copying.