A new Pioneer Institute study finds that foundation districts are largely unaffected by students who choose to transfer to charter schools.
About Ken Ardon
Ken Ardon received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1999, where he co-authored a book on school spending and student achievement. He taught economics at Pomona College before moving to Massachusetts, and from 2000 to 2004, Dr. Ardon worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Executive
Office of Administration and Finance. Since 2004, he has been an assistant professor of economics at Salem State University. Dr. Ardon is a member of Pioneer Institute’s Center for School Reform Advisory Board.
Entries by Ken Ardon
The last of a three-part series by Pioneer Institute on summer learning shows that Massachusetts schools establishing summer enrichment programs to close the achievement gap between lower-income and higher-income students can have a greater impact by eventually expanding the program across multiple summers or for a full year. This final paper introduces three types of extended summer enrichment models: 12-month programs, multi-year summer-only programs, and multi-year, year-round programs.
This paper uses publicly available DESE data to explore student attrition and other forms of student movement, such as dropouts, within district and charter schools. It is not a direct response to the now dated MTA report, but it does explore the validity of the claim that Massachusetts charter public schools have higher attrition than their district counterparts because these schools “select out” or “push out” weaker students in an effort to produce higher test scores.
This report shows that Boston charter public school students are more likely than their counterparts in non-exam Boston Public Schools (BPS) to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses and tests, and Boston charters have also done a better job of helping traditionally underserved students pass AP tests.
The following paper describes how charter schools in Massachusetts and especially in Boston enroll and serve English language learners. Another report in this series provides similar information about students with disabilities. This paper provides enrollment, attrition, and achievement data for English language learners in charter schools across the Commonwealth, with a concentration on Boston and Gateway Cities such as Lawrence.
The report finds that charters (especially in Boston) are enrolling an increasing number of special needs students – and those students are performing well compared to their district counterparts. The report also explores attrition rates and facilities funding.
This study contends that Massachusetts’ charter school funding formula should maintain the shared responsibility of state and local governments to fund education, but improvements could address a number of weaknesses and allow money to more easily follow students.
This paper explores why vocational education has become such a popular option in Massachusetts, and why 52 Bay State cities and towns do not have access to either district or regional career vocational technical programs. It also examines funding for vocational- technical education. While vocational-technical education is more expensive than traditional high school, it would cost the state less than ½% of the FY16 education budget to provide 5,000 more CVTE placements in Massachusetts.
Vouchers have the potential to do many things – improve family satisfaction, reduce racial isolation, and strengthen educational outcomes for both the recipients and the children remaining in public schools – all at little or no net cost to taxpayers. The program described in this paper could provide 10,000 students from low-income families with the choices that other families already possess.
The paper begins by examining segregation in the United States and in Massachusetts. While schools became more racially balanced in the 1970s, that trend has been reversed in more recent decades. In Massachusetts more than one quarter of African American students and similar numbers of Hispanic students attend heavily segregated schools.
Charter public schools are one of the few public school choice options available in Massachusetts largely due to restrictions the state constitution imposes on public education spending. Charters outperform traditional public schools; statewide, charter school students gain an additional month and a half of learning in English and two and a half months in math compared to students in traditional public schools.
While higher-income families have a plethora of K-12 educational options, lower-income families’ options are often limited to the local district school to which they are assigned. This paper proposes a constitutional and fiscally responsible method of expanding educational options for low-income families.
While the recent pension reforms focused primarily on reducing the cost to the government, one component of the changes had the opposite effect: the legislation allowed local retirement boards the option of offering retirees a larger annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA. While Massachusetts has made its COLAs more generous, many retirement systems around the country have been reducing COLAs to save money.
Since 2003, enrollment in public schools in Massachusetts has fallen by 35,000 students, or 4%. The decline has occurred even while enrollment in the rest of the country has increased. The early years of this enrollment decline were documented in a Pioneer Institute report in 2008.
The first part of this report looks closely at the background, structure, and function of the DESE in an attempt to understand how the agency has operated, how it currently operates, and what challenges, if any, the structure and operation of DESE pose for its ability to effectively exercise its increased authority. The second part recounts the recent history of the Department, especially its role in implementing the first wave of education reform, which came in the form of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act. In doing so, this work uncovers some of DESE’s strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to highlight potential obstacles to successfully implementing the second wave of reform.
This paper explores the extent and distribution of poverty in Massachusetts’s schools and then examines the performance of low-income-students in urban and rural areas.
Charter public schools operate under five-year charters from the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and are not part of traditional local school districts. Charters often organize around a core mission, curriculum, or teaching method. They are free from district management and local collective bargaining agreements, and they control their own budget and hire teachers and staff separately from the local school district.
Enrollment in public schools in Massachusetts has fallen by 24,000 students, or 2.5 percent, over the past five years. The total number of students in Massachusetts public schools is now just 936,000. The decline started several years ago, and is likely to accelerate over the next decade. The drop in enrollment is steepest in Western Massachusetts and Cape Cod, and urban districts are losing students faster than suburban districts.
While the pension system is not overly generous for typical employees, it is riddled with exceptions, ambiguities, and loopholes that allow some of them to abuse the system and collect unwarranted benefits, resulting in tremendous cost to the state and ultimately to taxpayers. The root of these problems is that the calculation of benefits is not based on the simple concept of contributions but the complicated interplay of four factors—years of eligible service, maximum three years of compensation, “group” or job classification, and retirement age.
The focus of this paper is the choice that local retirement boards have of managing their own investors or investing all or a portion of their assets in PRIT. Most local boards choose to retain control of their investments. In 2004, 55 out of the 104 local systems invested entirely on their own, 29 had some assets invested in PRIT or the PRIT segmentation program, and only 20 invested entirely with PRIT.