How Funding Helped Massachusetts Turn Around Its K-12 Education

How did Massachusetts schools go from the middle of the pack to first place? The answer is school funding.

A recent report from WGBH Boston explored the impact of the state’s 1993 legislation to overhaul how the state pays for its schools. The state poured money into districts that educated low-income kids, districts that historically struggled to raise funds through local property taxes. The funding enabled these disadvantaged districts to hire and keep good teachers, give them better training and improve curriculum in the classroom.

One school district received a $5 million increase in funding annual for a decade. The district used the money to support new teachers, new classes and new standards, eventually implementing new graduation standards, honors programs, and A.P. classes. Math textbooks that had been in place since the 1950s were updated, too. The funding also allowed the district to hire reading coaches and a technology team. Some schools lengthened the school day.

As a result of the changes, student test scores and graduation rates improved. In this specific district, 90% of its high-school graduates further their education after high school, up from 70% before the new funding laws passed.

In the past few years, the state’s funding of schools has slowed, and some districts are working to keep the funding strong because they have seen the benefit to their students. Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS) works with some of Ohio’s largest urban districts through The Ohio 8 Coalition to advocate for equitable funding for the state’s neediest school districts so that all of Ohio’s children have the best possible public education.

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