Support Deeper Learning
In Massachusetts, we recognize that to prepare young people for success in life, our public schools must address two major challenges.
First, the vast majority of K-12 students today will need some form of post-secondary training or education in order to compete in the evolving economy. In "Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020," researchers from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University found that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs across the nation will require postsecondary education. In Massachusetts, that figure will be 72 percent. Students need to graduate from high school with a foundation that prepares them to pursue their personal goals.
Second, innovations in technology and social media are rapidly changing how we access, understand, and share information. Our democracy depends on citizens who have the critical thinking skills to be informed participants in public discourse, whether they find themselves in government or holding government accountable. As stated in the Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness and Civic Preparation , "All young people must be prepared for active and responsible citizenship."
Our public schools play a central role in meeting these challenges. Preparing students for an ever-changing world will require a new way of thinking from all of us.
Why a New Approach?
In 1993, Massachusetts made a bipartisan commitment to success for all public school students, solidifying the state's role in this area while continuing many aspects of local control. The Massachusetts Education Reform Act ushered in a new era of state investment, accountability for schools, tougher requirements for teaching, and rigorous learning standards.
That investment and commitment paid dividends. Today, Massachusetts K-12 public school students lead the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and have scored at the top internationally in reading and near the top in science.
However, that success is not reaching all Massachusetts students. While 52 percent of Massachusetts third graders score "Meeting Expectations" or above on the statewide reading test, that figure is only 32 percent for economically disadvantaged students, African American/black students, and Latino/Hispanic students.
While 87.9 percent of Massachusetts students graduate from high school in four years, that figure is only 80.1 percent for African American/black students, 77.4 percent for low income students, and 73.8 for Latino/Hispanic students.
Lastly, only 39 percent of students who enter a Massachusetts high school will persist through graduation, enroll in college, and graduate from college within six years. For African American/black students, the figure is only 21 percent. For low-income students, the figure is 18 percent. And for Hispanic/Latino students, the figure is 15 percent. We are missing out on what these students have to offer.
To face these challenges, Massachusetts is embarking on a new era of education reform by launching the deeper learning pilot initiative across the state.
Too often, innovation takes place on the fringes. Good ideas are funded and tested, but they don't gain the traction to create change at scale. Sometimes, the state education agency is an unsurmountable obstacle to change.
In Massachusetts, we are turning that on its head. Through the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning, we will develop a shared understanding of what deeper learning is, what it should look like, and how it will benefit all 1 million public school students each year.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has committed significant resources to launch, test, and evaluate deeper learning. To leverage the state's commitment and to fully implement this initiative, we are seeking the generous investment of foundations, corporations, and committed individuals.
Please contact us to learn more about opportunities to become a partner as we launch this effort.