A child’s destiny should not be determined by her zip code. Massachusetts has been a leader in public education reform for nearly two decades, but persistent poverty- and race-based achievement gaps in low-income communities are reminders that we have not done enough to meet our commitment to offer educational opportunity to every young person in the Commonwealth. These inequalities persist under our watch despite clear policy options that work but are not available in every community where they are needed.
Statewide testing results demonstrate that white students score far better than children from minority or low-income families. A 2010 state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education study reported a 25 to 30 percentage-point proficiency gap between African American, Hispanic and low-income students and white students in reading and math. More than one-third of students in the Commonwealth’s urban school districts are still failing MCAS exams, and they can’t graduate from high school without passing that test.