Progress after Education Reform

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So the “revisionistas” (a.k.a. status quotists, special interests, etc.) are trotting out the view that Massachusetts’ school system was always the best in the country, even before the Ed Reform Act of 1993 (and before standardized testing, accountability and innovation through charters).

As my 6th grade American Civics teacher used to say in his baritone drawl: That’s mullarky!

See my previous post on the NAEP scores. How about Massachusetts’ performance on the SATs? As former Senate President Tom Birmingham, one of the architects of Ed Reform, noted at a November 06 Pioneer event entitled “Has Education Reform Stalled?”

If you had told Weld or Roosevelt or me on that hot day in June 1993 that more than 90 percent of students would pass the MCAS test when it became a graduation requirement, we would have thought you wildly optimistic. Along with substantial success with what some might consider a modest MCAS standard, we’ve also seen increases in our SAT scores for 13 consecutive years, from 1993 forward, ultimately placing us number one in the country.

The former Senate President was also prescient on the backtracking on MCAS we’ve seen in the legislature and by the Governor, in his conjecture that there could be:

Increasing pressure to lower the standards, or make failure to meet the standards inconsequential. In this regard, I’m a bit discomforted that one of the leading candidates for governor is, in my opinion, ambiguous on the question of even retaining MCAS as a graduation requirement. And so, I’m pessimistic about state government’s commitment to take education reform to the next level, either on the funding or the standards front.