Massachusetts for decades has posted better student outcomes than New York at a considerably lower per-pupil cost. In a new Empire Center report, a former member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education takes the first major step toward understanding this disparity by identifying key differences between the two states’ public education systems.

In Better Results with Lower Spending: Public Education in Massachusetts and New York, Dr. Roberta Schaefer finds the differences begin with how education policy is made, with the Massachusetts education bureaucracy directly accountable to the governor while New York’s Education Department is uniquely insulated from political accountability.

Much of Massachusetts’ success, Schaefer explains, can be traced back to sweeping 1993 reforms that tied school funding to changes to curriculum, teacher preparation and licensure and accountability. New York’s massive increases in school aid, on the other hand, were not paired with anything comparable to ensure that student outcomes improved.

“This is a groundbreaking look at why New York is spending 36 percent more per student than Massachusetts while getting outcomes behind Texas, Kansas and Kentucky,” said Tim Hoefer, Empire Center’s CEO and President. “Copying Massachusetts’ success can bring student outcomes up and taxpayer costs down.”

Schaefer’s recommendations include:

  • Allowing New York’s governor, instead of state lawmakers, to select the Board of Regents.
  • Limiting the Regents’ focus exclusively to pre-K-12 education.
  • Developing higher-quality, content-rich standards and curriculums.
  • Improving teacher preparation, professional development, and education school accreditation.
  • Resetting the state’s approach to intervening in underperforming schools and districts with greater focus on student outcomes.

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