Monday, June 3, 2013

School Governance and Proficiency Scores

The Huffington Post has an interesting feature here showing the states that spend the most per pupil, and the states that spend the least.  They point out the high correlation between spending and student achievement.

There is something else about these statistics that jumps out at me.  Massachusetts is identified as the state with the highest proficiency scores.  Besides being one of the top spending states, there is something else that sets it apart.  It is one of the few states (maybe the only state) where school governance is almost completely local. 

All of the cities and towns in Massachusetts run their own school systems.  The largest school district in the state, Boston, has only 57,000 students.  This is in contrast to New York, for example, that has  1.1 million students.  In the smaller Massachusetts towns, yearly budgets are voted on at town meeting, by all citizens.  This is in contrast to most of the rest of the country where school decisions are made at the county or large city level. 

I think these small, manageable school systems that can be much more responsive to parental concerns are one reason the Massachusetts students do so well.   And it is one more reason to be afraid of the kind of federal control that the common core assessment and curriculum is bringing.

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