Advanced Civics for U.S. History Teachers: Professional Development Models Focusing On The Founding Documents

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A resurgence of interest in civic virtue and a new emphasis on teaching civics in our schools is needed in our country. Teachers need opportunities beyond college to learn the intricacies of government and how to teach it. Pioneer Institute reached out to four professional development programs with nationally known reputations to learn more about their offerings.

How PARCC’s False Rigor Stunts the Academic Growth of all Students

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This report concludes that revising and updating MCAS would result in lower costs and more rigorous assessments that would provide better information about student performance than adopting PARCC. 

Expanding Access to Vocational-Technical Education in Massachusetts

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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.

A Critical Review of the Massachusetts Next Generation Science and Technology/Engineering Standards

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Massachusetts’ draft pre-K through introductory high school Science and Technology / Engineering standards contain such startling gaps in science that they should be withdrawn from consideration.

Proving the Viability of a School Choice Voucher

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In “Proving the Viability of a School Choice Voucher,” author Scott Haller surveyed 107 religiously affiliated private schools across Massachusetts including Catholic, Jewish, Adventist, Baptist, Islamic and Episcopal schools. The report found that an annual voucher of between $6,000 and $8,000 would be sufficient to provide low-income students access to an education in the majority of religiously affiliated Massachusetts K-12 schools. 

Modeling Urban Scholarship Vouchers in Massachusetts

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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.

Federal Overreach and Common Core

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This report provides the historical background and interpretive analysis needed to understand controversies surrounding Common Core and its associated tests.

Support & Defend: The K-12 Education of Military-Connected Children

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In-depth analysis of how the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) provides high-quality education to more than 84,000 eligible Military-Connected Children in more than 190 schools around the world and scores above the national averages on nearly all standardized assessments. This report also examines efforts to expand that success to Military-Connected Children attending non-DoDEA schools.

Pioneer Institute Statement on MBAE PARCC/MCAS Study

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The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) continues its advocacy for Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a federally funded testing consortium, with the release of a study concluding that Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) performance is not an indicator of preparedness for higher education success.

Why Massachusetts Should Abandon the PARCC tests and the 2011 Coleman et al English Language Arts Standards on which the MCAS Tests are Based

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Stotsky first describes her qualifications, as well as the lack of relevant qualifications in Common Core’s standards writers and in most of the members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, on which she served in 2009-2010.

Great Teachers Are Not Born, They Are Made: Case Study Evidence from Massachusetts Charters

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This report highlights five high-performing charter schools that have assembled and trained highly effective teaching workforces. These include networks include Lowell Collegiate Charter Public School, City on a Hill Charter Public Schools, Advanced Math and Science Academy, the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, and Match Charter Public Schools. 

Expanding METCO and Closing Achievement Gaps

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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.

Innovation Interrupted: How the Achievement Gap Act of 2010 Has Redefined Charter Schooling in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts charter schools are among the highest performing in the country, as measured by standardized test results. Despite this, the Commonwealth has created a difficult policy environment for growing new and existing charter schools, one that is defined by a statewide cap on the number of charter schools that can exist and a Smart Cap, enacted in 2010, which raised the cap on charter schools in certain underperforming districts.

Filling the Skills Gap: Massachusetts Vocational-Technical Schools and Business Partnerships

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Society is recognizing that in today’s economy, many graduates of four-year liberal arts colleges are looking for work, while students from career vocational technical schools are finding high-skill, high wage jobs. Why? Because they have marketable, industry-sanctioned competencies and employability skills.

Imperiling the Republic: The Fate of U.S. History Instruction under Common Core

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The Founders of the American experiment in democracy assumed that understanding American history was essential in a Union where publicspirited citizenship and the capacity to live under laws “wholesome and necessary for the public good” would characterize the new nation. To proceed without the knowledge of history, in their view, was a sure path to “a tragedy or a farce.”

Study Finds Common Core Math Standards Will Reduce Enrollment in High-Level High School Math Courses, Dumb Down College Stem Curriculum

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However, the greatest harm to higher education may accrue from the alignment of the SAT to Common Core’s high school standards, converting the SAT from an adaptable test predictive of college work to an inflexible retrospective test aligned to and locking in a low level of mathematics. This means that future SAT scores will be less informative to college admission counselors than they now are, and that the SAT will lose its role in locating students with high STEM potential in high schools with weak mathematics and science instruction.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Eight Patrick Administration Budgets Later

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Has Massachusetts made progress towards providing a better quality of life for its residents while maintaining financial stability over the past decade or so? In July 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the eighth and final budget of his administration with only a few vetoes and recommendations to the General Court. Five years after the financial crisis, this is an opportune moment to review and reflect upon the fiscal state of Massachusetts and what has changed since the beginning of this governorship more than seven years ago.

Meeting the Commonwealth’s Demand: Lifting the Cap on Charter Public Schools in Massachusetts

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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.

Giving Kids Credit: Using Scholarship Tax Credits to Increase Educational Opportunity in Massachusetts

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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.

Seeds of Achievement: Appletree’s Early Childhood D.C. Charter Schools

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Although early childhood education has been on the federal agenda since the 1960s and President Johnson’s War on Poverty, a renewed focus on the value of high-quality early childhood programming, in the form of President Obama’s Preschool for All initiative, has thrust the issue of universal preschool back into the spotlight.

Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing

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The era of “Big Data” has overtaken the field of education. New technology promises to transform education, facilitating previously unimagined learning opportunities and, from a purely administrative standpoint, allowing educators to complete in seconds what used to consume laborious hours.

How to Address Common Core’s Reading Standards: Licensure Tests for K-6 Teachers

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The purpose of this report is to provide information to state legislators, boards of education, and departments of education on why they should adopt a stand-alone and comprehensive reading licensure test addressing Common Core’s reading standards. We do not tell states what test to adopt. Rather, we describe the features they should consider before they decide on a test that these prospective teachers should be required to pass if the state does not already require a reading test adequately addressing all of Common Core’s reading standards

Common Core’s Validation: A Weak Foundation for a Crooked House

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The final version of the Common Core standards was released in June 2010. Also released at the same time was a report containing the signatures of 24 members of the Common Core Validation Committee, a committee appointed in the summer of 2009 to review the various drafts of the standards and to assure the public that the standards in mathematics and English language arts were research-based, rigorous, and internationally competitive.

The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry Instruction

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The fate of poetry in the school curriculum may seem like an odd subject for a Pioneer Institute report. But we are struck by the absence of comments on what constitutes literary study in the schools from organizations that might be expected to have a professional interest in the school curriculum (e.g., National Council of Teachers of English, International Reading Association, Association of Supervisors and Curriculum Developers) and from higher education sources that might be expected to have a discipline-based interest in the topic (e.g., American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Modern Language Association).

Testimony to the Missouri Elementary and Secondary Education Committee

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Testimony to the Missouri Elementary and Secondary Education Committee provided in February 2014.

Testimony to the Kansas House Standing Committee on Education

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Testimony to the Kansas House Standing Committee on Education in February 2014.

Matching Students to Excellent Tutors: How a Massachusetts Charter School Bridges Achievement Gaps

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The pages that follow describe the history and impact of Match Corps in an attempt to capture this important educational innovation. This paper raises and answers questions about why Match’s tutoring models are so uncommonly effective and what that means for their potential impact on education beyond Match and beyond Boston. Finally, this work ends with recommendations for what policymakers and others should learn from Match, which has changed the lives of many students and stands to impact perceptions of what really makes a difference in schools.

Matching Students to Excellent Teachers: How a Massachusetts Charter School Innovates with Teacher Preparation

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Known throughout the Commonwealth and the nation as a network of high-performing charter public schools, Match Education takes a highly specific approach to education reform. Match aims to help students who have been traditionally underserved in the public school system achieve at very high levels, and it does so by taking a structured, ‘No Excuses’ approach to education.

School Vouchers in Washington, DC: Lessons for Massachusetts

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"School Vouchers in Washington, DC: Lessons for Massachusetts" was presented by Patrick Wolf in 2013.

School Vouchers in Washington, D.C.: Lessons for Massachusetts

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This report tells the story of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, paying special attention to lessons that can be applied to educational improvement in the urban areas of Massachusetts. Section 1 describes the design and initial implementation of the program. Section 2 outlines the main features of the rigorous experimental evaluation of the program’s impacts on participating students and parents. The main results of that evaluation are presented in Section 3. Section 4 concludes by discussing the implications of the OSP results for possible school choice reforms in Massachusetts.