Dorchester’s Harbor Middle School will add a 10th-grade next year, according to Boston Public School officials.
Located in Fields Corner, the school currently has sixth-, seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade classes.
The new 10th-grade class will have 44 seats and is part of a broader effort to expand “inclusion” education in Boston schools, said a letter from Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Carol R. Johnson.
“We are also looking beyond the next school year and expect to create an inclusion high school for those students entitled to full-inclusion placements with a co-teaching model for future school years,” read the letter. “Our shared vision is a Henderson/Harbor Pathway that would offer a full inclusion educational option for students from K0 through 12th-grade.”
Officials with BPS said the plan will help fulfill a commitment made by BPS to create a “full-inclusion” high school.
“The plan was always to have a high school building in that area,” said John Verre, assistant superintendent for special education and student services for Boston Public Schools. “The location is critical and it’s important that it’s located in a vibrant commercial and social environment.”
The school has been working for the past two-years to bring up test scores and improve classes after it was declared a "turnaround school” in 2010.
Part of BPS’ Inclusive Schools Network, which includes 26 schools, it receives support from the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative at Education Development Center in Waltham, according to BPS.
“Inclusion is an approach to working with children with disabilities in public schools,” said Verre. “The research evidences says that children with disabilities do better in school if they are at an inclusive school.”
With students with and without disabilities, some of which include autism, learning and cognitive challenges, and physical disabilities, working and learning together, Verre said non-disabled students also do better.
The addition of the 10th-grade class and efforts to expand the school to include the 11th- and 12th-grades, also reflects the “Pathway” partnership between the Henderson Elementary School and the Harbor.
“This Pathway that has been in development is very particular to the children that started at the Henderson,” Verre said.
Students at the Henderson, which was recently highlighted for its improved MCAS scores, get an automatic option to continue their education at the Harbor, keeping classes together and creating a stable environment.
“We want to be able to continue this positive experience,” added Verra.
Although a seat is not guaranteed to each student in the new classes, current eighth-grade students will be given first priority for the ninth-grade and this year’s ninth-grade can continue into the 10th-grade, said the letter.