Massachusetts' schools are consistently ranked among the best in the nation. The state's success is due in large part to its 1993 Education Reform Act, which introduced a set of high achievement standards and a fair school funding system to provide schools with the resources to help students meet those standards.
Now, as part of its annual Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report, the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy has outlined three ways the state can build on its already strong education system to better prepare students for school, support them while they're there, and help them make the transition to college or a career.
The report itself presents a collection of 25 indicators that go far beyond test scores to explore how children are faring in Massachusetts.
For example, just 64 percent of young children eligible for a subsidy are enrolled in early education, which is likely reflected in the fact that just 57 percent of 3rd graders test proficient in English language arts. Once they're in the K-12 system, the report looks at other indicators like student absenteeism (12 percent of students missed 10 percent or more of the school year), the number of students passing all 9th-grade courses (19 percent) and completing the MassCore college-readiness coursework (70 percent), and the number of youth ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor employed (10 percent).
With this detailed picture of student well-being, it becomes possible to see where the state could focus more resources to strengthen its schools and better serve students. The report identifies three areas in particular that are worth investing in: expanding early childhood programs, developing a statewide system of K-12 student supports, and introducing more early college programs that give students momentum and support to pursue a college degree.
For each of these strategies, the report lays out the evidence supporting each, the steps necessary to implement them, and examples of districts or programs that are already working towards that goal, like Boston's K1DS pre-k program, City Connects and Communities in Schools.