2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 0%
Charter Schools Score: 82%
Massachusetts moves up in CER’s ranking this year, making a substantial jump from 27th to 10th place. A renewed focus on analyzing the independence and autonomy that are provided to charters in practice facilitated the Bay State’s rise in the rankings.
Despite onerous caps on the number of charter schools that can be established in the Commonwealth, Massachusetts ensures that its charters operate with significant autonomy. Furthermore, the state has proven a strong partner in allowing schools to innovate, despite regulations that could be interpreted otherwise.
Despite being the only entity that is able to authorize charter schools, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education allows charter schools all of autonomies they are promised by law. This has enabled Massachusetts charters to produce some of the best results in the country for students.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed in 1993
- Number of Charters: 88
- Estimated Charter Enrollment: 44,200 (up 10 percent from 2015-16)
- Massachusetts has a cap of 72 charter schools statewide as well as caps restricting the amount of tuition that districts can send to charter schools when students enroll; Tuition caps, in particular, have significantly hindered the growth of charters in the Bay State
- Virtual charter schools are banned
- Charter schools offering pre-k programs in districts where pre-k is funded receive per-pupil funding for pre-k
- A study by the university of Arkansas showed that charters in Boston had a 17 percent disparity in funding compared to traditional public schools.
- Massachusetts earns a 9 of 15 points for “authorizing” because the law allows only the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to act as an authorizer. Having a single authorizer limits the types of charter schools that exist.
- Massachusetts earns a 6 out of 15 for “growth” due to its two different kinds of charter school caps. The first is a statewide cap on the number of schools that can exist. The second is a tuition cap (district spending on charter school tuition cannot exceed 9 percent of overall tuition in the district, unless the performed in the bottom 10 percent statewide, in which case tuition spending cannot exceed 18 percent. (except in bottom decile districts, where it increased to 18 percent). These caps have significantly hampered the growth of charter schools in Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts earns 15 of 20 points for “operations” because charter schools operate free from most regulations that apply to districts. Additionally, the state allows charters significant operational autonomy in practice.
Massachusetts earns an 11 out of 15 for “funding equity.” The state mandates that districts send the same per-pupil amount they would spend on each student to the charter school of his or her choice. Massachusetts’ charter school law also requires the state to provide for a portion facilities funding. Currently, facilities payments to charter schools are roughly $893 per pupil.
Online Learning Score: 68%
Overall Massachusetts earned an F for digital learning driven primarily by its limits on student access to online learning options. There are restrictions on enrollment and on the types of providers of digital content, too. During 2013, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts converted its first Commonwealth virtual school, the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield, which opened in 2010. The virtual school serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade. While some student choice models exist, local districts still control access to digital learning at the school/student level.
Teacher Quality Score: 82%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers B-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C+
Identifying Effective Teachers C
Retaining Effective Teachers C
Exiting Ineffective Teachers B