Learning for the 21st century
By 2020, 72% of jobs in MA will require a career certificate or college degree, yet 32% of students entering our public colleges are not prepared for college level work. Massachusetts employers find too many young people lack the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the modern economy. Our education system must ensure every student develops a solid foundation in literacy and math as well as a broader range of the knowledge, skills and dispositions required for success in college and career.
Research consistently shows that teacher quality is the most important school-related factor that influences student achievement. In fact, a high quality teacher throughout elementary school can substantially offset or even eliminate the disadvantage of a low socio-economic background. In a recent survey of Massachusetts employers, two-thirds of respondents said the business community should put “a great deal” of focus on making sure schools have good teachers. MBAE promotes and the business leaders we represent, believe that high quality teaching should be a critical area of focus in education.
Using data to drive improvements
MBAE has consistently emphasized accountability as a critical element of the Education Reform Act of 1993 that has brought about significant gains in student achievement. In 2010, additional measures were added that give chronically underperforming districts flexibility and authority to make the changes needed to turnaround schools, the state authority to intervene when school systems can’t improve learning and that require teachers to be evaluated based in part on evidence of whether or not the students in their classrooms are learning. This strong accountability foundation must be protected and improvements can be made to put a focus on where schools are coming up short.
Equitable and effective school funding
School funding is a critical lever for improving schools and student outcomes. Fundamental changes to the education funding system are required to meet the needs of every student and to ensure low income and needier students receive added support.
Empowering school leaders and educators
Research shows that leaders in high performing schools implement a common set of practices that require flexibility in hiring, staffing, assignment and scheduling, yet Massachusetts grants these authorities to only the lowest performing districts and schools. 265 underperforming schools (with state designation of Level 3) are denied these essential flexibilities. Giving autonomy, including budget and staffing authority, to schools and school leaders including the flexibility to choose among school models that best meet student needs, is critical and will eliminate the need for a charter school cap and encouraging innovation.