Joshua D. Angrist Sarah R. Cohodes Susan M. Dynarski Jon B. Fullerton Thomas J. Kane Parag A. Pathak Christopher R. Walters
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, Massachusetts 02148-4906 Telephone: (781) 338-3000 TTY: N.E.T. Relay 1-800-439-2370 Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D. Commissioner
Dear Colleagues: Two years ago, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, The Boston Foundation, and the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University partnered to produce a groundbreaking report, Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston’s Charter, Pilot, and Traditional Schools. Informing the Debate provided evidence of the impact of Boston-based charter schools on student performance. We are pleased to advance this research with this current report, which looks at the impact of charter schools statewide. The findings are provocative. They suggest that students in Massachusetts’ charter middle and high schools often perform better academically than their peers in traditional public schools. The results are particularly large for students at charter middle schools and at schools located in urban areas, two areas where traditional public schools have found it most challenging to improve student performance. Longer school days, more instructional time on core content, a “no excuses” philosophy, and other structural elements of school organization appear to contribute to the positive results from these schools. Perhaps most importantly, many of these elements could be implemented in traditional public schools, providing us with potential models for improvement across the Commonwealth. We look forward to continuing to learn from our charter schools about their strategies for success and to working with stakeholders statewide on using school redesign as a potential lever for improving student performance. Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.... [continues]
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