Twenty Years After Ed Reform, What's Next for MA?
New research from Citizens for Public Schools on how Massachusetts
and the nation can ensure equity and excellence for all students
June marked the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Education Reform Act in Massachusetts. Because the Bay State is often regarded as a leader in national education policy, it's worth considering:
How has Massachusetts fared in helping students succeed, and where is there room for improvement?
In its new report, "20 Years After Education Reform: Choosing a Path Forward to Equity and Excellence for All," Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) analyzes the three main impacts of the 1993 law: the establishment of the Foundation Formula, the implementation of high-stakes testing, and the expansion of the state's charter school network.
Like many states, Massachusetts has been following a "standards-based" reform agenda that emphasizes setting a high bar for achievement while not necessarily ensuring that all students have the resources and opportunities they need to reach that bar.
The report found that fair funding can be credited for much of Massachusetts' success over the past two decades. High-stakes testing, however, has led to a narrowing of the curriculum that hits low-income schools the hardest. Charters, which enroll a smaller percentage of English language learners and students with disabilities, push out struggling students through the use of harsh discipline policies and are poor models for systemic education reform.
In order to close persistent achievement gaps across the country, policymakers will need to close the opportunity gap by shifting to a "supports-based" reform agenda that provides all students with access to resources like: high quality early education, fair funding, well-trained and experienced teachers, and wraparound academic, social and health supports.
Citizens for Public Schools isn't the only Massachusetts group weighing in on the state's education agenda. In a separate event held on June 18th (the exact anniversary of the 1993 bill signing), advocates from Strategies for Children, the Masschusetts Budget and Policy Center, and the Massachusetts Business Alliance hosted a panel discussion about what's next for the state. You can read about the event and the panel's recommendations here.