What’s Going On In Massachusetts?

A new education vision is needed to guide Massachusetts schools in the 21st century. The Rennie Center in combination with the Barr Foundation hosted an event on Tuesday morning to discuss the path for moving forward with education reform in Massachusetts.  The event brought together state leaders, policymakers, and education practitioners to discuss the release of the Condition of Education in the Commonwealth: 2013 Data report (COE).

Massachusetts has been known as a leader on student achievement, and while there have been tremendous gains overall since the Education Reform Act of 1993, there is still much to do to support the needs of ALL children. 

We are proud of the progress and are painfully aware we haven’t achieved the goal. We need to work harder, look wider, and think more deeply about what we are doing….this set of reports will help us map this new territory.”

Efforts to address continuing challenges, ranging from a lack of school readiness to a lingering proficiency gap to the need to ensure all students are college and career ready, have led to increasingly sophisticated, but at times disjointed, approaches to reform.

Commissioner of Early Education Tom Weber discussed how there has been impressive standards that have been put in place, but said that the Commonwealth still only has half of the necessary capacity to serve all of the children who need early education and opportunities most.

Dr. Chad d’Entremont, Executive Director of the Rennie Center, agreed that there have been notable education reforms, but they currently work in isolation, while there is a huge need to figure out how all the reform pathways fit together. He noted that that the newly released COE Report can be the convener to bring about these needed conversations as the report  is a tool to push the states to collect data and push for new ways to use data to measure success.

Here are three things that were suggested to focus on in the year ahead to help structure Massachusetts education reform discussion:

1)      We must consider what has worked and focus on what should be expanded and further explored.

2)      We need to assess a range of competencies, which means creating new assessments to measure new skills and knowledge needed for college and career success.

3)      We need systematic innovation, imagining what the future of education looks like, first by addressing the limitations of traditional schooling and acting on evidence needed to expand learning opportunities to develop new schooling models to meet a range of student needs.

We appreciate these organizations uniting and sparking these further discussions.   At NCTL, we are excited to continue to work together to make change happen and envision this new schooling idea of what the educated citizen will look like 10 years from now. We agree we must continue to work towards creating high-quality education for every child.