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June 2, 2013

Charter Schools and the Road to College Readiness: The Effects on College Preparation, Attendance and Choice

The Boston Foundation & New Schools Venture Fund (PDF):

Boston charter schools are making a substantive difference in the lives of their students. For the Boston Foundation, recognition of this began in 2009, when we partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to publish an Understanding Boston report that compared the results of students in Boston's charter schools, pilot schools and traditional schools.

The report, Informing the Debate, by a team of researchers from MIT and Harvard, which used data from the state, followed individual students over time. While it showed few advantages for students attending pilot schools, which the Boston Foundation had heavily invested in at the time, it did show that charter schools--at both the middle and high school levels had a decidedly positive impact on student achievement. The results in math achievement for middle-school students were nothing short of remarkable.

Informing the Debate helped to fuel the movement to partially lift the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts, spurred by President Barack Obama's Race to the Top federal funding strategy for education, which emphasizes innovation and encourages the establishment of more charter schools. Inspired by the potential for federal funds for education, in the spring of 2009 Governor Deval Patrick announced support for in-district charter schools. On a local level, Mayor Thomas M. Menino filed legislation that would allow local school districts to open new, district-run charter schools.

In January of 2010, a major education reform act was passed in Massachusetts. Through our convening of the Race to the Top Coalition, the Boston Foundation was proud to play a key role in the passage of An Act Relevant to the Achievement Gap, which, among other advances, doubled the number of charter school seats in the state.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 2, 2013 4:47 AM
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