Survey: Massachusetts Public Schools Not Preparing Students for College & Careers

BOSTON (December 12, 2016) – Mass Insight Education (MIE), a Boston-based national nonprofit dedicated to improving student achievement and increasing college success through rigorous academic programs, has released its 27th annual survey on education issues, conducted by Opinion Dynamics.

The survey results (which can be downloaded here) indicate that Massachusetts residents are growing increasingly disappointed in the performance of public schools, high schools in particular, in preparing students for college and their future careers, and seem willing to support strategies to help schools improve.

“It’s clear from this survey that as parents, citizens, educators, and reformers, we all must do a better job on behalf of Massachusetts students, especially low-income students and students of color,” said Dr. Susan F. Lusi, CEO and president of MIE. “We must come together and act quickly to determine a course of action that ensures students receive the rigorous education that they need and that our future workforce will demand.”

Increasingly, Massachusetts residents view the public school system as running in place. Just 10 percent grade their local school an “A,” the lowest percentage since before the landmark education reform law of 1993 and more than 50 percent below the October 2014 level. At the same time, residents grading the state schools a “C” has dramatically increased since October 2012 to 41 percent, up from a little more than 30 percent a few years ago.

Respondents understand that the state’s economy is changing, with more than eight out of 10 disagreeing that a high school diploma is enough to earn a good living in Massachusetts. They also see the need for more STEM workers: more than 70 percent do not believe Massachusetts has enough skilled workers to meet the needs of STEM employers.

“We are allowing far too many students to graduate from high school unprepared for a successful future in our economy,” said Paul Toner, executive director of Teach Plus Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “We need to provide more supports for students like internships and job programs that give them the skills they need to succeed in college and their careers.”

Forty percent believe that the state’s high schools are not currently effective in preparing students for a bachelor’s degree, while 25 percent don’t think high schools are adequately preparing students for the minimal requirements for success in community colleges. Fifty-three percent indicated that high schools are more responsible than colleges for students not completing their college degrees.

“Massachusetts voters are not happy with the status quo, and the level of discontent is striking,” said Marty Walz of Marty Walz & Associates and former co-chair of the state legislature’s Education Committee. “We need to think creatively and focus on making public schools more effective, especially in our cities where far too many students attend underperforming schools.”

Support for public policies that would address mediocre schools was strong. Respondents – supported by a wide margin, with 80 percent agreeing – think the state should include college success indicators in high school rankings. There was also strong support for the governor and legislature to adopt college success policies, including more need-based financial aid. Well over eight in 10 also indicated support for legislation that would give district and school leaders more authority to determine teacher assignments and working conditions.

About Mass Insight Education

Founded in Boston in 1997, Mass Insight Education (MIE) is a national nonprofit at the forefront of education reform. It is dedicated to improving student achievement and increasing college success through bold district restructuring and rigorous academic programs. To close the achievement gap and prepare the leaders of tomorrow, MIE inspires students to go to college, and gives them the academic tools and training they need to thrive and earn a degree. For more information, visit