“Leaders & Laggards,” the state-by-state report card on K-12 education released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, gives Massachusetts strong grades – with one very disturbing “F.”
“A” grades for academic achievement, return on investment, and credibility of student assessments are what we have come to expect, confirming the success of the Education Reform Act of 1993. The “B”s for progress since 2007, school choice, and data quality are similarly in line with expectations, as is the “D” for pension funding (an issue that affects virtually the entire public sector in our state).
In three categories, our “A”s are products of the grading curve – we may perform well compared to other states, but we must do better. Achievement for low-income and especially for minority students still lags badly. The international competitiveness of our results, however favorable by domestic standards, doesn’t look as good globally (which is what should count). As for postsecondary and workforce readiness, a survey sponsored by AIM and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) found widespread employer dissatisfaction with the preparation of our high school graduates.
The most startling and disturbing grade on the Bay State’s report card is an “F” in technology.
“Massachusetts receives a very poor grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning,” says the report. “Students do not have access to high-quality digital learning options.” A “B-” fin the 21st-century teaching force category is a related issue, because the value of educational technology depends upon the ability of teachers to use it effectively. These scores are disappointing and dangerous for a state with a technology-based economy, including a significant and expanding ed-tech sector.
Employer concerns about the adequacy of schools in a fast-changing world were echoed in a recent report, The New Opportunity to Lead: A Vision for Education in Massachusetts in the Next 20 Years, [full report; executive summary] prepared by a partnership of international education experts for MBAE, AIM’s longtime partner on education issues.
In response to that call for a commitment to innovation and a culture of continuous improvement in our schools, MBAE is seeking to create “information age schools for an information age economy,” combining technology and connections to higher education and business to promote student-centered learning along with expended freedom and flexibility.