GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

December 17, 2012

Column: State education strategy aims at success for all

If you look at the achievement markers for Massachusetts public school students, the results are astounding.

Massachusetts students and teachers are not only performing at a high level, but continuously improving. Our accomplishments are a direct result of Gov. Deval Patrick’s leadership and the administration’s deep investment in K-12 education.

Newly released international test scores place Massachusetts among the world leaders in eighth-grade mathematics and science achievement. On the heralded TIMSS assessment, Massachusetts eighth-graders trail only their peers in Singapore in science achievement. In math achievement, Massachusetts eighth-graders trail only their peers in four leading Asian countries.

The administration’s K-12 education agenda is aimed at closing proficiency gaps, particularly in the gateway cities, and ensuring that all students are ready for the opportunities that await them after high school. To meet these ambitious goals, we are implementing four primary strategies in classrooms, schools, and school districts across the state.

First, we are strengthening curriculum, instruction, and assessment. This year, schools are implementing the new Massachusetts curriculum frameworks in English language arts and mathematics, which incorporate the common core standards but are customized for Massachusetts. The frameworks have added rigor, clarity, and focus to the state’s already high standards. We are adopting new standards for English language proficiency and providing professional development to teachers of English language learners to ensure those students have a pathway to high achievement. Massachusetts is also collaborating with two dozen other states to build a new generation of assessments for all students.

Second, we are improving the effectiveness of our educator workforce. The single most important factor in a child’s academic success is having high quality teachers, and we have the best teachers in the country in Massachusetts. The state’s new educator evaluation system places student learning at the center, and is fundamentally about supporting the professional growth and development of all teachers and administrators.

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