An Analysis of How Massachusetts’ ‘Student Growth’ Model Limits Access to Charter Public Schools

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The Student Growth Percentile (SGP) the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) now uses as 25 percent of the formula for determining school district rankings has a high degree of error. While the SGP may have a role to play as part of discussions around holding districts accountable for performance, it should not be used for high-stakes policy decisions, including which districts are eligible for an increase in the charter public school cap.

Amicus Brief: Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue

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Pioneer Institute today announced that it has submitted an amicus curiae urging the United States Supreme Court to hear Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which challenges a state constitutional amendment marked by religious bias.

Wise and Humane: Private School Nursing in Massachusetts

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Private and parochial school students in Massachusetts have been denied well over $10 million in school nursing services to which they are entitled under state law.

Charter School Funding in Massachusetts: A Primer

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A new Pioneer Institute study finds that foundation districts are largely unaffected by students who choose to transfer to charter schools.

Axioms of Excellence: Kumon and the Russian School of Mathematics

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At a time of declining state and national math proficiency, after-school math programs offer a viable option for quickly increasing the number of mathematically competent students. In this study, Pioneer Institute profiles two such programs: Kumon and the Russian School of Mathematics.

Common Core, School Choice and Rethinking Standards-Based Reform

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While U.S. academic performance has declined since the broad implementation of Common Core, school choice programs are increasingly hamstrung by regulations that require private schools to adopt a single curriculum standards-based test as a condition for receiving public money, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Inter-district Choice in Massachusetts

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With little fanfare or controversy, Massachusetts’ inter-district school choice program has allowed students to access better schools and spurred competition between districts, but the 27-year-old choice law should be updated to ensure the program’s continuing success.

No IDEA: How Massachusetts Blocks Federal Special Education Funding for Private and Religious School Students

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Over the past dozen years, thousands of private and religious school students in Massachusetts have been denied hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of special education services to which they are entitled under federal law.

Cristo Rey Schools: A Model of 21st-Century Catholic Education

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This paper examines Cristo Rey schools, why they work, how they work and what parts of their education/business design can be successfully transferred to other Catholic high schools. It will look at the Cristo Rey Network, a cooperative organization formed to standardize the Cristo Rey approach, offer resources to the individual schools and help promote the spread of Cristo Rey schools to cities that can support them.

Expanding Educational Opportunities: Three Models for Extended Summer Enrichment Programs in Massachusetts

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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.

Homeschooling: The Ultimate School Choice

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This report recommends that states do more to acknowledge the…

Best Practices in Massachusetts Charter Schools: What We Know Now

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This report summarizes the research-based truth about Massachusetts charter public schools, focusing on the ideas that were most prominent in the charter school ballot initiative debate. The data that follow are taken from a series of papers published by Pioneer Institute over the course of 2016. This report illustrates that Massachusetts charter public schools do not drain resources from district schools, they outperform the school districts from which their students come, and have attrition rates that are lower than or equal to those districts.

Attrition, Dropout and Student Mobility in District and Charter Schools: A Demographic Report

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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.

Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Best Practices in Expansion and Replication

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This paper considers what the limited expansion of some charter organizations in the Commonwealth has looked like so far, and explores the different legal and policy conditions that enable large charter and educational management organizations to flourish. It does so with an eye to understanding whether Massachusetts might benefit from policy changes that encourage the expansion of operators already in the state and provide incentives for successful outside operators to bring their programs to the Commonwealth. Recommendations include providing pathways for new, innovative providers to enter the state.

Massachusetts Charter Public Schools English Language Learners: Demographic and Achievement Trends

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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.

Expanding Educational Opportunities: Best Practices in U.S. Summer Enrichment Programs

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This report is the second of a three-part Pioneer Institute series of studies on summer enrichment programs with a particular focus on opportunities for disadvantaged students. It highlights best practices in the field by profiling a range of summer programs. The authors urge summer enrichment programs to partner with entities that help place disadvantaged children in educational programs to help the schools and non-profits recruit students. They also urge programs run by schools to use academic-year faculty.

Massachusetts Charter Public Schools: Best Practices in Character Education

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This report explores two high performing Massachusetts charter public schools—Abby Kelley Foster Charter School in Worcester, MA and the Brooke Charter School Network of Boston, MA—and how they approach character education. This study is part of a series of papers from Pioneer highlighting best practices in the charter sector.

Survey of Summer Enrichment Programs at Independent and Parochial Schools in Massachusetts

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A survey of more than 70 Massachusetts private and parochial schools found that most offer academically-oriented summer programs, which have been found to prevent summer learning loss and can help close the achievement gap among student groups. The survey is the first of a three-part study that will yield a comprehensive guide to summer enrichment programs in the commonwealth.

Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Best Practices: Serving English Language Learners

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This report draws on interviews with school leaders and classroom observations in three Massachusetts charter school organizations to describe some of the successful strategies used to enable large ELL populations to achieve at high levels. The report applauds holding charter schools accountable for recruiting and retaining ELLs and other special populations, but warns against “punishing” schools that succeed in helping students shift out of a category based on academic achievement.

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.

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.

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.

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.