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The Education Governor: Closing the Achievement Gap and Making our Children College and Career Ready

The education of our children is the greatest responsibility we have as a Commonwealth. A high quality education gives every child, no matter their background, an opportunity for a successful and fulfilling life. Every dollar we invest in education is an investment in our ability to secure the right kind of jobs for our childrens future and for their social and economic well-being. We have many fine teachers in our Commonwealth. They are dedicated professionals who try every day to improve the education of our students. The State can and should do much more to support them in their efforts. As Governor, the education of our children will be my highest priority. I will meet monthly with my education department leaders to plot our strategy and implementation plan, and track our progress against our objectives. We will publish our progress every quarter and be accountable for our results. As Governor, my education agenda will have two primary objectives for our Commonwealth: To close the achievement gap between high and low socioeconomic level students that still exists in too many of our schools; and To ensure that every child is college and/or career ready, so that they all can compete in the global economy and have a real opportunity in life.

I will make it a priority for my administration to do whatever it takes to achieve both of these objectives for our Commonwealth in this decade. Our children and the future of our Commonwealth cannot wait. Closing the Achievement Gap While I am proud of Massachusetts record as a leader in education, we still have a long way to go to close a persistent achievement gap. We have one of the largest

relative gaps in the United States. A student who qualifies for the free lunch program in this state is six times as likely to underperform in fourth grade math as a student who does not; and an African-American or Latino student is eight times as likely to underperform as a white student. This is unacceptable. Every child in our state, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or heritage language, deserves the chance to succeed in the modern world. To close this gap, as Governor, I will: Expand access to state funded Pre-K programs for low income children; and pay for this expansion through a dedicated social investment fund Increase the length of the school day with educational support and enrichment programs in underperforming schools Enact a competitive funding program for K-12 education innovation in at risk or poorly performing school districts Identify high-performing charter schools and incorporate successful strategies into all school programs, harnessing the benefits from these centers of innovation

State Funded Pre-K in Low-Income School Districts One of the most effective and economical steps we can take to close the achievement gap is to expand access to high-quality Pre-Kindergarten for children in low-income households in Massachusetts. Research shows that three-quarters of children who have difficulty reading by grade three will have persistent learning issues from third to twelfth grade, which significantly decreases the likelihood that they finish high school, attend college, or productively participate in our economy. In Massachusetts, 61% of all third graders and only 38% of African-American third graders and 36% of Hispanic third graders are competent in English Language Arts. Focusing on supporting learning in Pre-Kindergarten programs will contribute to closing the achievement gap between high performing and underperforming students. Early educational experiences provide a critical foundation for students to develop literacy, social skills, and other schooling competencies, especially for children from low-income households who arrive in kindergarten having heard 30 million less words than their more affluent peers. This difference in vocabulary development significantly affects reading performance. Pre-Kindergarten programs are cost-effective and can yield 7% to 10% return, saving the state millions of dollars. Research focusing on high-quality preschool programs has shown a decrease in grade repetition by 30 percent after one year of enrollment, and 50 percent after two years, while also decreasing special education costs. Investment in pre-school programs could save school districts an average of $3,700 a child. Additionally, children of low income households, who attend high2

quality early education initiatives have a 30% higher probability that they will finish high school and are twice as likely to attend college. In order to realize these tremendous gains, we must be willing to invest in PreKindergarten initiatives. My administration will make pre-school funding available for all school districts whose schools are judged to be at risk of under-performing at Level 3 or at Level 4, for two successive years. My administration will put in place a specially developed social investment fund to pay for this pre-school expansion. This Pre-K education fund will be established at a level of $250 million funded over five years. The district and each school will be held accountable to performance measures that show a sustained path to improved literacy by the third grade. Savings based on these improvements will enable the district and school to repay the fund starting after year five, while seeing significantly lower costs due to reduced grade repetition, special education needs and other remediation efforts. In this way, the school district can make the investment required to increase desirable educational outcomes and lower overall costs as a result. Most importantly, many more children will have the chance for success. Extended Learning Time and Enrichment To make sure children from low-income families receive a high quality education, comprised of learning opportunities focused on enhancing and deepening their knowledge base, we will extend the school day for certain under-performing schools. This additional learning time will employ educational enrichment and academic support programs with proven outcomes. Additionally, extended learning time could be used to support other priorities such as STEM and soft skills training. These programs typically cost on the order of $1,800 per student per year. Flexible Innovation to Improve Outcome Communities across the Commonwealth serve culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. My administration will work with communities to address the unique needs of their students by creating a competitive grant program, which will be modeled after the national Race to the Top Initiative. This approach grants communities the autonomy to develop school initiatives unique to their municipality and moves our initiative program away from one-size-fits-all endeavors, which are often not cost effective or do not achieve the desirable learning objectives. Community proposed plans would be financially rewarded for innovation that centers on improving literacy in Pre-K through third grade, developing early competency in mathematics, and enhancing STEM initiatives. Targeted at underperforming school districts, local school districts would be innovators while the state ensures quality and accountability. Enabling the School Committees to guide the planning process for these school districts moves away

from a one-size-fits-all education reform approach and gives each community the ability to do what is best for their children. These two programs will be funded at $50 million. The results for extended learning and the flexible innovation program will be tracked yearly to assure that the improvements are occurring for our children.

Making Every Child College and/or Career Ready

Maintaining Common Core Standards for All School Districts Massachusetts has already undertaken education reform ahead of much of the nation. We have adopted the Common Core State Standards and aligned them with our own rigorous state standards. The next step is to ensure that all school districts achieve these standards. STEM Education We also must ensure that our education system is preparing Massachusetts students for the jobs of the future. By 2018, 8% of total employment in the state will be in STEM fields, a total of 278,000 jobs. We must make sure our students are wellprepared for these careers. Research shows STEM education needs to start early in a childs education. A mere 31% of college-bound public high school students in Massachusetts indicated an interest in pursuing a STEM major, in comparison to 43% of college-bound high school students nationally. My administration will aggressively work with schools to broaden the type of STEM curriculum offered. Children need to be exposed to growing STEM fields such as computer science, information technology, and engineering. We will award state STEM grants with a goal of diversifying these programs which expose children from across the Commonwealth to STEMs rich content matter. Inspiring young women and minorities to pursue STEM early should be a priority. We need to reach girls and underrepresented minority groups earlier and instill these young people with a passion for STEM well before they reach college. Starting early, we will provide mentorship opportunities for young women and minority students, and offer targeted STEM programs. Programs, like First Robotics, a mentored-based program in which students compete while learning science, engineering and technology skills, have shown significant beneficial effects. Expanded Vocational-Technical Education Hands on Learning Vocational and technical high schools provide students with hands on learning experiences and practical skills; enabling students to either go on to college or

immediately to a career. One half of STEM jobs do not require a four-year degree. These well-paying positions, with an average salary of $53,000 a year, pay 10 percent higher than employment with comparable education requirements, and are dispersed across Massachusetts cities. In Worcester, STEM workers in positions requiring an associate degree or less make an average of $60,113 compared to $35,365 for those in non-STEM fields, and of the 53,930 STEM jobs in the City in 2011, 56.2% require an associates degree or less. Vocational schools play an important role in preparing graduates for these well-paying jobs by giving them the skills they need while still in high school. Vocational-Educational schools and vocational curriculum in traditional high schools must be a key component of the Commonwealths efforts to ensure career and/or college readiness. We must make sure that high standards and accountability are always part of the vocational school experience. And, we must assure that these schools and programs work with local key industries to understand the evolving needs of the workplace and provide the skills needed for our youth to succeed. In addition, these institutions and the Commonwealth must work with local businesses to support their efforts to hire our graduates through mentoring and work based learning programs. One great example, in Roxbury, is the internship program established between Madison Park High School and a local auto-body repair business, Boston Body Works. Through this long term collaboration, many students have moved from the classroom to productive employment. In my administration, the Commonwealth will take an aggressive role in promoting a wider and broader array of working relationships between private sector employers and the vocational education schools and programs in our communities. And, finally, my administration will push for closer working relationships between vocational schools and community colleges, to realize synergies in programs and the potential for efficiencies in the joint use of facilities and learning tools.

Conclusion Historically, public schools overall in Massachusetts have led the nation in innovation and improvement. My administration will continue this legacy, but we have much more to do to ensure that all of our children can succeed and live full and fulfilling lives. My administration will focus on two key objectives to create opportunity for all: Close the achievement gap that continues to exist in too many of our schools; and

Make every student in the Commonwealth college and/or career ready, so that all have a real opportunity to succeed in life

To close our persistent achievement gap, we must be willing to recognize the needs of different students and continue to enrich and strengthen their educational experiences. By expanding high-quality Pre-Kindergarten with an innovative funding program, establishing extended learning time, and putting in place competitive funding programs for under-performing schools, we can close the gap. We must also recognize the changing nature of our economy and equip all students with the skills they need to be productive citizens. Ensuring that the Massachusetts State Core Standards are successfully enacted in all schools, increasing emphasis on earlier STEM skill development for all students, and expanding vocational technical opportunities in many school systems, will ensure that every student in Massachusetts has the abilities and skills he/she needs to be career and/or college ready and has the opportunity to lead a fulfilling and productive life.

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