Public education in Massachusetts

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K-12 Education in Massachusetts
State Superintendent: Matt Malone
Number of students: 953,369[1]
Number of teachers: 69,342
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:13.7
Number of school districts: 401
Number of schools: 1,835
Graduation rate: 85%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $13,941[3]
See also
Public education in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Department of Education
Massachusetts school districts
List of school districts in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Massachusetts has approximately 355 public school districts.

The Massachusetts state constitution requires that the legislature "cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country."[4]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Massachusetts state budget
Massachusetts's education costs are 21% of the state budget

The state of Massachusetts had an estimated total budget of $26.93 billion for FY 2010. Of that, education accounted for approximately $5.76 billion or 21.4% of the total budget.[5] Massachusetts is faced a shortfall of approximately $3 billion for FY 2010, compared to a $1.1 billion deficit for FY 2009.[6] In order to close the budget deficit in 2009, the governor approved a budget of $27.5 billion, $700 million cut from the previous year.[7] Gov. Deval Patrick announced in October 2009 lower than expected revenues for the first quarter of FY 2010 would produce a $600 million deficit. According to officials, 2,000 state jobs may be cut in addition to the 1,400 already eliminated to balance the current year’s budget.[8]

The cost per pupil is $13,454, the 9th highest the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[9]

Personnel salaries

In Fiscal Year 2009 the state of Massachusetts spent a total of $4.61 billion on teacher salaries. According to state reports the state had an estimated 68,290 teachers at an average yearly salary of $67,577. Compared to 2008 at an estimated average salary of $64,166, 2009 saw an increase of $3,411. However, the state decreased the number of teachers from 69,331 to 68,290; a loss of about 1,041 teachers. The chart below highlights the average teacher salaries for the state, the total number of teachers and total salary costs to the state for fiscal years 2004 through 2009.[10]

Fiscal year Total Salaries Total Teachers Average Salaries
FY 2004 $3,960,071,176 73,699.7 $53,733
FY 2005 $4,034,582,103 73,756.6 $54,701
FY 2006 $4,171,116,385 74,001.1 $56,366
FY 2007 $4,298,145,779 73,779.0 $58,257
FY 2008 $4,448,732,392 69,331.4 $64,166
FY 2009 $4,614,826,373 68,289.5 $67,577

Role of unions

The main unions related to the Massachusetts school system are the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. For the 2003 tax period MTA had: $30.97 million in total revenue, $30.77 million in total expenses and $20.08 million in total assets.[11] The Massachusetts Federation of Teachers had: $3.32 million in total revenue, $3.13 million in total expenses and $1.49 million in total assets.[12]

List of local Massachusetts school unions:[13]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is comprised of a chairperson, vice-chairperson and a secretary. The chairperson is appointed by the governor, while the vice-chairperson is elected by the board from a poll of persons nominated by the board. A vice-chairperson holds office for one year until another person is elected by the board. The secretary, also acts as the Commissioner of Education, is appointed by the board of education.[14]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Massachusetts government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.


Massachusetts currently does not have a statewide, official spending database online. However, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, which "provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies," tracks actual spending in real and nominal terms using a "Budget Browser," available here.[15]

Legislators in favor of transparency, headed by Senator Cynthia Creem, introduced a budget amendment in 2009 that would require the Secretary of Administration and Finance to create a spending transparency website.[16]

The Boston Herald has this list of state payroll information: Massachusetts 2009 State Employee Payroll

Academic performance

The chart below details the aggregate score for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) 2009 targets, including: participation, performance, improvement, attendance and the total AYP status. Additionally, the data is provided for both "English and Language Arts" as well as "Mathematics." AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. According to Massachusetts reports, the state did not meet 2009 AYP requirements for both English and Mathematics. However, the state met participation and attendance targets in both subjects.[17]

Subject Participation (95% needed) Performance (90.2% needed) Improvement (met or exceed own target) Attendance target Total AYP 2009 status
English/Language Arts Met (99%) Didn't meet (86.5%) Didn't meet (1.3% change) Met (94.6%) No
Mathematics Yes (99%) Didn't meet (78.5%) Didn't meet (0.8% change) Met (94.6%) No

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[18] 2011 Education Spending[19] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[20] 2012 Education Spending[21] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[22] 2011 Avg. ACT score[23] 2012 Avg. ACT score[24] 2010 Graduation Rate[25] 2011 Graduation Rate[26]
Massachusetts $76.3 billion $18.7 billion 24.5% $76.9 billion $19.6 billion 25.4% 24.0 24.2 24.1 80.8% 81.5%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: Massachusetts has a charter school law. According to reports approximately 24,600 students attended of the state's 65 public charter schools in the 2007-2008 school year.[27]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of Massachusetts has two main open enrollment policies: inter-district and intradistrict (voluntary and mandatory). In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school outside and within their neighborhood school district. However, the intradistrict mandatory policy addresses racial imbalances therefore allowing any non-white students attending schools in which a racial imbalance exists to transfer to another school. Additionally, any white student attending a public school in which racial isolation exists is allowed to transfer to another school.[28]
  • Online learning: Massachusetts has a state-led online program known as the Massachusetts Online Network for Education (MassONE). According to reports in the 2007-2008 school year the program had approximately 250,000 registered teachers and students. The MassONE program offers a blended approach which includes face-to-face learning as well as online learning. In addition to the state-led online program approximately 30% of the state's districts participate in the Virtual High School Global Consortium.[27]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Massachusetts Constitution,"Chapter V, Section II," retrieved May 16, 2010
  5. Commonwealth of Massachusetts,"All Government Areas - Summary," retrieved May 16, 2010
  6. Boston Business Journal,"State watchdog predicts $3B budget deficit in fiscal 2011," December 10, 2009
  7. Massachusetts Office of Administration and Finance, "Historical Budget Summary," accessed October 26, 2009
  8. The Boston Globe, "Cahill asserts Patrick failed budget test; Treasurer says his advice on shortfall unheeded," October 22, 2009
  9. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  10. Massachusetts Department of Education,"FY04 to FY09 Average Teacher Salaries, Massachusetts Public Schools," retrieved May 16, 2010
  11. Center for Union Facts,"Massachusetts Teachers Association," retrieved May 15, 2010
  12. Center for Union Facts,"Massachusetts Federation of Teachers," retrieved May 15, 2010
  13. Center for Union Facts,"Massachusetts teachers unions," retrieved May 15, 2010
  14. Massachusetts Department of Education,"By-Laws of the Board of Education," retrieved May 16, 2010
  15. Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
  16. Daily News Tribune, "Bringing Transparency to the Budget," June 9, 2009
  17. Massachusetts Department of Education,"State Totals - 2009 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Data," retrieved May 16, 2010
  18. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  19. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  20. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  21. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  22. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  23. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  24. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  25. National Center for Education Statistics
  26. National Center for Education Statistics
  27. 27.0 27.1 The Heritage Foundation,"Massachusetts School Choice," retrieved May 16, 2010
  28. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," retrieved May 16, 2010