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Office of Planning and Research to Close Proficiency Gaps

ESE Research Update, March 2011

Research from ESE

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DART Detail: Finance and Staffing.
The first of a series of tools that will provide in-depth data on particular areas using the basic DART template. This DART Detail tool allows the user to compare five districts over three years in terms of per pupil spending, staffing FTEs, and student/staff ratios.

Reports from ESE

Legislative Reports
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Using the Student Growth Measure for School and District Intervention: Legislative Report.
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Student Achievement in Massachusetts' Charter Schools.
In this evaluation, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University examined the impact of charter attendance on Massachusetts students' academic achievement. Results for urban charter schools - both middle and high school - showed large, positive, and statistically significant effects on English Language Arts and Mathematics scores. Nonurban charter middle schools showed negative results, where nonurban charter high schools showed modest, yet positive results. A school administrator survey suggested that urban charter schools have longer school days, spend more time on reading and mathematics instruction, and use merit/demerit discipline practices.

Research on Massachusetts Education Policy

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Contracting for Performance: Teacher Contract Language in Massachusetts.
In this white paper, the Pioneer Institute examined major components from 25 collective bargaining contracts from high and low-performing districts across the Commonwealth. The study found that factory model contracts are more likely to be found in the state's lowest-performing districts and suggested that a better designed contract would give teachers the autonomy necessary to impact student performance. In order to align teacher contracts with a new era of education reform, the Pioneer Institute recommends that districts examine contracts by an outside party, evaluate grievance clauses to ensure teacher absences are minimized, and collaborate with unions to create alternative career ladders, among others.

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Ready for the Future: The Role of Performance Assessments in Shaping Graduates' Academic, Professional, and Personal Lives.
The Center for Collaborative Education interviewed three Boston Public School graduates to determine how performance-based assessments helped their preparation for future academic, professional, and personal endeavors. Overall, the graduates thought the performance assessment systems contributed to their success in college and in the workforce. Additionally, the assessments helped the graduates discover their own learning styles and interests, master academic content and skills, and develop critical thinking and communication skills.

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School Funding Reality: A Bargain Not Kept.
In this report, the Boston Foundation examined Massachusetts' school finance system - in particular the foundation budget - and proposed changes needed to deliver high quality public education to all students. The contradiction between the state government's adherence to the foundation requirements and the school funding challenges is due to growing annual health care costs in school budgets, a foundation budget shortfall of $1.7 billion in 2010 due to inflation, and decreased per-pupil spending on books and teacher trainings. The paper concluded that the overall cost of health care in Massachusetts is the ultimate education issue.

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The Real Cost of the Contract: An Analysis of Salary and Benefits of Boston Public School Teachers.
This report, published by the Boston Foundation, explained the total compensation provided to typical Boston Public Schools (BPS) teachers. Key findings include: the BPS pay scale is very traditional, BPS teachers can attain top pay in nine years, and BPS teachers contractually have a shorter school day than their counterparts around the country, among others. The authors proposed that the BPS pay structure should be realigned so that a greater amount of resources are applied to improving student achievement and teachers are rewarded for their performance rather than their longevity in the system.

Last Updated: March 29, 2011
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