Why school choice works in Massachusetts

Mar 2012
54,653
36,289
New Hampshire
#1
Interesting. We now are opening a bunch of charters similar to Massachusetts.

While there are exceptional charter schools in New York City and Washington, D.C., the results produced by Massachusetts charters are in a class of their own. A Stanford University study found that Boston charters are doing more to close poverty- and race-based achievement gaps than any other group of public schools in the country. Statewide, charter schools in Massachusetts significantly outperform traditional public schools, which themselves are the highest-performing in the nation.

The recipe for high-performing charter schools begins with the combination of real autonomy and strict accountability. Schools should be able to organize around a distinct approach or mission and be free to extend the school day and/or year if they wish. If, for instance, a school wants to send kindergartners home at 4PM instead of noon, they should be able to do so. Schools should also be encouraged to develop innovative programs to hire, train and retain teachers.

Yet along with this autonomy, schools must also be held to account for their results. If they perform poorly, there must be consequences. If not, how is a charter school different from a district school? With regard to accountability, Massachusetts has revoked the charters of five underachieving schools and declined to renew two more when their five-year term expired. Across America, we find that too many charter schoolsoperate without fear of the consequences of their licenses being revoked for underperformance, or worse.

Massachusetts provides charters with equitable operating funds and eases the burden on districts that lose students and funding to charter schools by providing partial reimbursements over six years for “lost” students. Charter schools have had some notable successes, improving and enlivening American education. If policy makers want those successes to be experienced more broadly, they would do well to draw lessons from Massachusetts — both in terms of what the state does right and where changes could be helpful.

Why the school choice model from Massachusetts works
https://credo.stanford.edu/documents/MAReportFinal_000.pdf
 
Likes: johnflesh
Sep 2015
152
21
On the outside, trickling down on the Insiders
#2
Educational Reform, Part One: Grade School

The schooling imposed on us by the anti-social rulers is unnatural and does not motivate. That is why America only develops 1% of its human resources. Shortages, the excuse for importing skilled foreigners, are solely the fault of this unworkable. depressing, and brain-numbing system

Divide the classes into teams and quiz throughout the day, adding a few questions from material covered in previous weeks. The team with the highest scores will get Friday off; the one with the lowest will have to come in on Saturday. The highest-scoring students from four grades older will be paid to teach the Saturday classes.
 
Nov 2009
3,406
524
Flower Mound, TX (In the basement)
#3
Competition!

Consequences! Good and bad.

What a concept. Maybe we could call it education capitalism. Maybe?
 
Nov 2009
3,406
524
Flower Mound, TX (In the basement)
#4
I remember a News report on the local Chicago TV stations about what the State was going to do about one school's amazing record of wins in the State's science fair completion. There was this small Catholic school for years had won first prize in all three grade levels in the state science fair. So as any good department of education would do, they sent a team to discover what this exceptional school was doing to be so outstanding.

Long story short....the State of Illinois banned that school from competing in further state science fairs because it was unfair to the other schools. They needed to past the prizes around to other schools.

...and we wonder way we are so fucked up.
 
Mar 2012
54,653
36,289
New Hampshire
#5
I saw where many states are opening STEM academies to address the shortage of students in science and math. Schools where 80% of the day is dedicated to just science and math. State of the art labs etc. Super neat if one wants to get into MIT or a serious engineering school.
 
Dec 2018
2,756
1,017
Florida
#6
If you want to solve a lot of our educational issues? Teach to the test. That test being the ACT/SAT. That’s it. The schools should be united from kindergarten to 12th grade in a district. Now. I’m not saying the same school, but they should all be building off the same curriculum. What a teacher taught last year should matter to the next year teacher. School is a pyramid system and you CANNOT teach a child algebra if they didn’t grasp multiplication and division.
 
Sep 2017
5,245
6,304
Massachusetts
#8
Interesting. We now are opening a bunch of charters similar to Massachusetts.

While there are exceptional charter schools in New York City and Washington, D.C., the results produced by Massachusetts charters are in a class of their own. A Stanford University study found that Boston charters are doing more to close poverty- and race-based achievement gaps than any other group of public schools in the country. Statewide, charter schools in Massachusetts significantly outperform traditional public schools, which themselves are the highest-performing in the nation.

The recipe for high-performing charter schools begins with the combination of real autonomy and strict accountability. Schools should be able to organize around a distinct approach or mission and be free to extend the school day and/or year if they wish. If, for instance, a school wants to send kindergartners home at 4PM instead of noon, they should be able to do so. Schools should also be encouraged to develop innovative programs to hire, train and retain teachers.

Yet along with this autonomy, schools must also be held to account for their results. If they perform poorly, there must be consequences. If not, how is a charter school different from a district school? With regard to accountability, Massachusetts has revoked the charters of five underachieving schools and declined to renew two more when their five-year term expired. Across America, we find that too many charter schoolsoperate without fear of the consequences of their licenses being revoked for underperformance, or worse.

Massachusetts provides charters with equitable operating funds and eases the burden on districts that lose students and funding to charter schools by providing partial reimbursements over six years for “lost” students. Charter schools have had some notable successes, improving and enlivening American education. If policy makers want those successes to be experienced more broadly, they would do well to draw lessons from Massachusetts — both in terms of what the state does right and where changes could be helpful.

Why the school choice model from Massachusetts works
https://credo.stanford.edu/documents/MAReportFinal_000.pdf
The problem with charter schools is that it's so very easy for the concept to get abused -- for it to become not about actually raising academic standards, but instead about kneecapping unions, setting up for-profit educational outfits to scam the system, giving wealthier parents an ability to abandon neighborhood schools to the detriment of the local underclass, and finding back doors for promoting religion with government money. Massachusetts is probably the single state where charter schools have the best chance to do well, because of the fervently pro-education and civic-minded culture here. There's a reason that traditional public schools in Massachusetts have pretty much always been at the very top of the nation, as well, and why Massachusetts leads the nation when it comes to the proportion of people with college degrees, and the number of elite colleges and universities. It's just a part of the culture here, and so charter schools tend to get set up by people with the right priorities, and to be watched closely by people making sure things stay on track. That they can work in Massachusetts shows that the concept isn't fatally flawed at its root. But it doesn't necessarily show that it can be rolled out successfully in other areas.
 
Sep 2017
5,245
6,304
Massachusetts
#9
If you want to solve a lot of our educational issues? Teach to the test. That test being the ACT/SAT. That’s it. The schools should be united from kindergarten to 12th grade in a district. Now. I’m not saying the same school, but they should all be building off the same curriculum. What a teacher taught last year should matter to the next year teacher. School is a pyramid system and you CANNOT teach a child algebra if they didn’t grasp multiplication and division.
I mostly agree -- though I'd teach to a much broader test than just the ACT/SAT. I'd teach to a suite of subject-area tests as well (similar to the AP and achievement tests). But, I agree that if you have a good enough suite of tests, there's no problem teaching to the test -- that, in fact, it beats the hell out of teaching to the eccentricities of an individual teacher or the politics of a local school board, etc. I also very strongly agree with the pyramid approach.

I say that as someone who suffered due to our dumb-ass, state-by-state, district-by-district approach to curriculum. I was an Army Brat and we moved every two or three years, sometimes part-way through a school year. This resulted in the worst of both worlds. Sometimes I'd get the same material two years running, completely wasting my time. Other times I'd be dropped in the deep end of a subject where everyone else in the class had learned the foundational material the prior year, and I just had to figure it out on the fly. I also wasted a lot of time on what I'd call "local studies" -- where local civic pride causes the state to make people waste time on local trivia that's of no interest to someone who isn't going to be there for long... I mean, I suppose it's nice that I can tell you the state dog of Maryland, the state flower of Texas, give you a list of semi-famous poets from Connecticut, and recount the fate of the Popham Colony, but my time could have been better spent with a more structured and universal agenda. A more nationally consistent approach would also be a money-saver for taxpayers, since we could, say, procure a single batch of 6th-grade biology texts, with huge market power to get an outstanding per-copy cost, rather than every state or locality doing piecemeal procurement of different texts at much higher cost.
 
Mar 2012
54,653
36,289
New Hampshire
#10
The problem with charter schools is that it's so very easy for the concept to get abused -- for it to become not about actually raising academic standards, but instead about kneecapping unions, setting up for-profit educational outfits to scam the system, giving wealthier parents an ability to abandon neighborhood schools to the detriment of the local underclass, and finding back doors for promoting religion with government money. Massachusetts is probably the single state where charter schools have the best chance to do well, because of the fervently pro-education and civic-minded culture here. There's a reason that traditional public schools in Massachusetts have pretty much always been at the very top of the nation, as well, and why Massachusetts leads the nation when it comes to the proportion of people with college degrees, and the number of elite colleges and universities. It's just a part of the culture here, and so charter schools tend to get set up by people with the right priorities, and to be watched closely by people making sure things stay on track. That they can work in Massachusetts shows that the concept isn't fatally flawed at its root. But it doesn't necessarily show that it can be rolled out successfully in other areas.
I think at least in well educated areas, that the concept of a charter school is becoming something specific needed for the future. For example, around here we have 3 new charters for STEM. They spend roughly 80% of the school day on sciences and math. Its set up and geared for those who want to be engineers or doctors. They had a 100% placement last year at all Ivy League schools. Others I have read about elsewhere might focus on music or the arts or even a sort of voc tech school. I think its interesting since the kids get to spend so much time doing what they love.