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Massachusetts Schooling Matters: Good News, Contributing Factors, Challenges, Persistent Problems

Abstract

"Massachusetts public schools have performed at the highest levels on national and international benchmarked reading, mathematics, and science assessments. The Commonwealth's population demographics related to educational attainment, employment, and family income coupled with factors within the control of the state, districts, or schools, such as highly qualified and unionized teachers, average school-district size, defined time on learning, universal health care coverage for all children, state funding for pre-K-12 schooling, curriculum articulation through statewide standards, and high participation in college admissions exams, have contributed to academic success. Massachusetts schools, however, still face challenges in narrowing existing achievement gaps, reducing the emphasis on large-scale standardized assessments as the sole determinant of school and district performance, and fully committing to a social justice agenda in which all students, especially those living in poverty, receive the comprehensive education promised by the Education Reform Act of 1993. This article concludes with five recommendations for policymakers focused on funding priorities, enhancing teacher workforce development, expanding learning time, and educating the whole child."

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