2016 Condition of Education in the Commonwealth

January 2016

2016 Data Report

The 2016 Data Report identifies and measures state-level indicators linked to outcomes to inform decision-making among Massachusetts education leaders. These indicators focus on critical stages in learning and development from school readiness and early learning to the emergence of a strong and productive workforce. Important indicators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are highlighted at each stage and specific attention is leveled at the need for prepared and effective educators to support student progress throughout our entire education system. Indicators are selected because of their evidentiary base and alignment with Massachusetts’ reform agenda and updated at least every two years. This report provides a critical overview of our public education system, while presenting data and information to encourage more nuanced discussions of potential strategies for improving student learning outcomes.

2016 Action Guide—Toward a More Comprehensive Vision of Student Learning

The Condition of Education in the Commonwealth Action Guide presents an overview of the current policy landscape and context in areas of need, along with suggested program steps for bringing successful practices to scale. The Action Guide and the larger Condition of Education in the Commonwealth project provides a common foundation for more informed action statewide, building bridges between what we know how to do and what we aspire to achieve for all students. 

A number of promising reform activities, including several highlighted in the 2015 Condition of Education Action Guide, emphasize partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to supplement a broader range of student learning needs. As we look at current patterns in student performance and consider where, as a state, we have the greatest opportunity to improve outcomes, social-emotional learning emerges as a clear priority.

In this year’s Condition of Education Action Guide, we explore the critical role social-emotional learning plays at several stages of the schooling pipeline, noting where the state has made progress and how Massachusetts leaders can support a more comprehensive and research-based vision for social-emotional learning for all educators, students, and their families.

  1. Set a social-emotional foundation in early childhood: Several additional actions would help the spread of effective social-emotional earning practices including assessing for readiness, spreading strong instructional practice and greater family collaboration, and creating more seamless, sustainable funding systems.
  2. Build comprehensive K-12 systems of social-emotional support:Ensuring more proactive and comprehensive social-emotional support for students statewide will require a coordinated vision as well as dedicated resources and attention such as providing protocols and guidance to districts, and supporting the use of a broader set of student data.
  3. Foster skills for college and career success: A comprehensive system of partnerships can support fluid movement through K-12 and into college and career pathways through the integration of social-emotional skills across grade levels, assessing mastery of social-emotional skills, and greater collaboration across sectors.
  4. Equip educators to foster social-emotional wellbeing: The state should develop an educator toolkit, enforce guidelines for teacher preparation and integrate social-emotional learning into professional development.

Interactive Map

Below is a link to explore an interactive feature that highlights programs in Massachusetts’ districts, schools, and communities featured in the 2015 and 2016 Condition of Education Action Guides. Approaches highlighted in the map represent the two underlying notions: 1. Education encompasses more than academic learning; 2. Schools should not—and cannot—work in isolation. Criteria for these featured programs, includes but is not limited to, the following: 

  • activities must align with our Condition of Education core indicators, directly contributing to improved outcomes in areas identified as in need of work;
  • they must be supported by research; they must have an established track record in Massachusetts’ schools;
  • there must be a realistic possibility of expansion in the near future; and,
  • these featured programs offer innovative learning strategies/programs promoting success for all of our learners. 
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