Public education in Massachusetts
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- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 Issues
- 12 School districts
- 13 Education ballot measures
- 14 Recent news
- 15 See also
- 16 External links
- 17 References
List of school districts in Massachusetts
Public education in Massachusetts
School board elections portal
|“||To strengthen the Commonwealth's public education system so that every student is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, compete in the global economy, and understand the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and in so doing, to close all proficiency gaps.||”|
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is led by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. The current Commissioner is Mitchell D. Chester. The Secretary of Education is the state's chief education official. The current Secretary of Education is Matt Malone.
- Chairman of the Student Advisory Council
- Secretary of Education
- Nine members appointed by the Governor
- One member, selected from a list of three nominees provided by the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
- One member to represent a business or industry with a "demonstrated commitment to education"
- One member to represent parents, selected from a list of three nominees provided by the Massachusetts Parent Teachers Association
- Six additional members
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the standards on July 21, 2010. Full implementation took place during the 2013-2014 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Massachusetts compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
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
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Massachusetts as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Massachusetts's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. students||1,050||0.11%||0.42%|
|Two or more||24,206||2.54%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A majority of students in Massachusetts attend suburban schools. Approximately 87 percent of the state's students attend city or suburban schools, compared to approximately 13 percent who attend rural or town schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York), Massachusetts had the highest share of students (both fourth and eighth graders) who scored at or above proficient in reading.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Massachusetts was lower than the national average at 2.7 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 2.5 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Massachusetts
School choice options in Massachusetts include: charter schools, inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 12.37 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Massachusetts state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 10.7 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 3.20 percentage points, or 23 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 13.9 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Massachusetts totaled approximately $15.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Massachusetts and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Massachusetts totaled approximately $14.5 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Massachusetts and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Massachusetts, the average salary increased by 14.9 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Massachusetts ranked 21st overall, or "average," which was in the third of five tiers.
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 2008 tax period MTA had $53,490,500 in total income. For the same period, the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers had $4,171,622 in total income.
List of local Massachusetts school unions:
- Massachusetts Teachers Association
- Massachusetts Federation of Teachers
- Boston Teachers Union
- Bridgewater-Raynham Education Association
- Education Association of Worcester
- AFT Lowell
- AFT Lynn
- AFT Lawrence
- Haverhill Education Association
- Springfield Education Association
- See also: Massachusetts government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
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 its "Budget Browser," which is available here.
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.
Studies and reports
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
Lawrence Public Schools state takeover
On November 29, 2011, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 10-1 to label Lawrence Public Schools a "chronically under performing" district, which allowed Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester to take over the district and to install a new superintendent/receiver. This decision came in response to the fact that, "District-wide performance in English-language arts (ELA) and math is among the bottom one percent of all the state's school districts; Lawrence has the third lowest math Composite Performance Index (CPI) and fourth lowest ELA CPI in the Commonwealth. Less than one-half of Lawrence's students graduate from high school within 4 years, which is the lowest graduation rate of any (non-charter) district in the state."
Lawrence Mayor and School Committee Chair William Lantigua personally requested the state's intervention, as did the Lawrence Teachers' Union. At the time, Lantigua was fighting recall efforts, and the previous superintendent was ousted and formally charged with fraud and embezzlement.
Board member James R. Blatchford opposed the takeover, insisting that, "We are not the bottom of the barrel." Chester appointed current Superintendent/Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley to his position on January 11, 2012. As a result of the takeover, the Lawrence School Committee lost its formal powers and became a purely advisory board for Riley, which has reduced electoral interest in the board. While in power, Riley has consolidated and reduced the size of the district administration, replaced principals and hired 160 new teachers.
- See also: School board elections portal
|Student enrollment||Per-pupil spending|
|1.) Boston||1.) Provincetown|
|2.) Springfield||2.) Cambridge|
|3.) Worcester||3.) Minuteman|
|4.) Brockton||4.) South Middlesex|
|5.) Lynn||5.) Martha's Vineyard|
|6.) Lowell||6.) Orleans|
|7.) Lawrence||7.) North Shore|
|8.) New Bedford||8.) Essex|
|9.) Newton||9.) Up-Island|
|10.) Fall River||10.) Franklin|
Here are several quick facts about Massachusetts's school board elections in 2015:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Worcester Public Schools with 24,740 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Quincy Public Schools with 9,266 K-12 students.
- Newton Public Schools has the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with eight seats up for election.
- Quincy Public Schools and New Bedford Public Schools are tied for the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with three seats up for election in both districts.
The districts listed below served 126,853 K-12 students during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district names for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2015 Massachusetts School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Brockton Public Schools||11/3/2015||7||7||16,595|
|Fall River Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||7||10,138|
|Lawrence Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||7||13,145|
|Lowell Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||7||13,879|
|Lynn Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||7||14,139|
|New Bedford Public Schools||11/3/2015||3||7||12,616|
|Newton Public Schools||11/3/2015||8||9||12,335|
|Quincy Public Schools||11/3/2015||3||7||9,266|
|Worcester Public Schools||11/3/2015||6||7||24,740|
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Massachusetts Aid Grants for Higher Education, Question 3 (1974)
- Massachusetts English in Public Schools Initiative, Question 2 (2002)
- Massachusetts Local Taxes and State Share of Education Expenses, Question 3 (1980)
- Massachusetts Prayer in Schools, Question 9 (1972)
- Massachusetts Public Aid for Non-Public Education Institutions, Question 2 (1986)
- Massachusetts Public Aid to Non-Public Education Institutions, Question 1 (1982)
- Massachusetts Public Schools Cannot Discriminate Based on Race or Creed, Question 6 (1978)
- Massachusetts State Student Loans, Question 4 (1972)
- Massachusetts Student Fees Referendum, Question 3 (1994)
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Massachusetts + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Massachusetts state budget and finances
- Massachusetts Department of Education
- List of school districts in Massachusetts
- School choice in Massachusetts
- Charter schools in Massachusetts
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Massachusetts Report Cards
- 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
- 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."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Welcome to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Website," accessed May 20, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- The Official Website of the Governor of Massachusetts, "Secretary of Education," accessed May 20, 2014
- Massachusetts General Laws, "Part I, Title II, Chapter 15, Section 1E," accessed May 20, 2014
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed June 12, 2014
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Common Core State Standards Initiative," accessed June 17, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "Massachusetts Teachers Association," accessed June 10, 2014
- Center for Union Facts, "Massachusetts Federation of Teachers," accessed June 10, 2014
- Center for Union Facts, "Massachusetts teachers unions," accessed May 15, 2010
- The Daily News Tribune, "Bringing Transparency to the Budget," June 9, 2009 (timed out)
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, "Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Declares Lawrence Public Schools as "Chronically Underperforming,"" November 29, 2011
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, "Education Commissioner Chester Appoints Jeffrey C. Riley as Receiver for the Lawrence Public Schools," January 11, 2013
- 90.9 wbur, "Lawrence Public Schools Face Possible State Takeover," November 29, 2011
- The New York Times, "Massachusetts: State Takes Over Lawrence Schools," November 30, 2011
- The Eagle-Tribune, "Editorial: Time to reinvent the Lawrence School Committee," May 12, 2013
- The Eagle-Tribune, "Riley cuts 25 office jobs," May 26, 2013
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "Enrollment Data," accessed August 5, 2013
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, "School Finance: Statistical Comparisons - Per Pupil Expenditure Reports," accessed August 5, 2013
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