Massachusetts: student achievement


As we explored previously Massachusetts’ students rank amongst the best in the world on international math and science tests. The recently released 2013 NAEP–the nation’s report card–results for 4th and 8th graders on reading and math solidify  Massachusetts’ standing as the leader in k-12 student outcomes.

Massachusetts ranks first in the proportion of students scoring proficient and above in 4th and 8th grade reading and 8th grade math. In 4th grade math the state ranks 3rd. (Michigan as we explored in my last post ranks between 33rd and 40th on the four tests.)

The notion that Massachusetts does well because of demographics–specifically a small number of African Americans–is not supported by the data. The gap between Massachusetts and Michigan for all 4th graders in reading is 15 points, for white students only it is 17 points. For 8th grade reading the gap is 11 points for all students and 14 for whites. On math the gap between the two states for all students is 16 points in the 4th grade and 21 points in the 8th grade. On those tests the gap for white students is 16 and 20 points respectively.

The NAEP profiles of the two states also includes data related to state k-12 policy. Massachusetts spends $14,670 per student. Michigan spends $10,378. Massachusetts has 72 charter schools, Michigan has 300. (Massachusetts has about 60% of the k-12 students that Michigan does. That would, on an equal number of students basis, reduce the number of Michigan charter schools to around 180 compared to 72.)

More evidence, as I wrote previously: “Certainly not a ringing endorsement of the funding cuts, let just about anyone open a school (including virtual) without any quality standards, ambivalence on high academic standards policy approach we have taken, particularly the last three years. …  Seems like it is time for us to adopt policies that are getting the student achievement outcomes we all want. Massachusetts has developed the framework for best practice state k-12 policies. Its time we reverse course and follow their lead.”


Lou Glazer

About Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

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