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Visit the Boston
Opportunity Agenda website

  Education Research from
The Boston Indicators Project

Graduation Rates chart

  The Boston Rates
Boston's four-year high school graduation rate increased to 64.4% for the Class of 2011, up from 59% for the Class of 2006. However, disparities persist: 58% of males graduated in four years compared to 71% of females; 57% of Latino and 62% of African American students graduated within four years compared to 77% of white and 80% of Asian students.
Informing the Debate cover  Click the covers
to download
PDF versions of
the reports.
 NYC Charter Evaluation Project link 

Today we know how to create effective schools, thanks to groundbreaking reports by the nation’s top education researchers.

Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston’s Charter, Pilot and Traditional Schools set a new standard in the search for effective schools. Now its rigorously controlled research methodology, designed by a team led by Thomas Kane, Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education, has been duplicated independently in New York City, confirming the power of charter schools to close the achievement gap for minority students in urban schools.


 View video clips of the Understanding Boston Forums

Charter School Demand and Effectiveness: A Boston Update

What Are the Ingredients of Effective Public Schools?

View video clips of the Race to the Top Coalition launch and press release.

Research and Reports

Taking Stock: Five Years of
Structural Change in Boston’s Public Schools

Taking Stock cover 



A new Boston Indicators Project   special report on the growth of charter schools and other autonomous public schools in Boston and the impact that school autonomy has had on learning, student performance and the structures of the Boston Public Schools. View a video of the forum at which the report was presented.


Two recent reports assess the impact of
Race to the Top in Massacusetts


Race to the Top
Year 2 Report
Department of Education

January 2013

Massachusetts Report
Year 2: School Year
2011 – 2012

U.S. Department of Education

February 1, 2013


Read Stanford University's report on the remarkable achievements of Massachusetts charter schools.

Boston students are making progress on key education goals, but larger action is needed, especially at the beginning of the “education pipeline,” according to the Third Annual Boston Opportunity Agenda Report Card, which was released today at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. BOA Education Report Card





Charter School effectiveness in Boston 
October 24, 2013

Charter School Demand and Effectiveness: A Boston Update
A new report by researchers from the School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative at M.I.T. has found that Boston charter school students continue to significantly outperform Boston Public Schools students across the middle and high school grades on the MCAS.

College completion cover 
January 17, 2013
This report focuses on the college completion rates of Boston Public Schools graduates and the potential impact of a college completion initiative called Success Boston, which the Boston Foundation is proud to support with $1 million in funding annually. The report finds that over the last decade, BPS graduates are enrolling in, persisting in and completing college at higher rates—and that we are on track to meet the ambitious goals of Success Boston.
BOA 2nd report card 100 cover
November 07, 2012
Boston Opportunity Agenda Second Annual Report Card
The second annual report card from theBoston Opportunity Agenda finds continued progress across Boston’s education pipeline in 2011/2012, including substantial gains in 10th grade MCAS scores, but still finds low scores in 3rd-grade reading.
December 07, 2011
Toward Closing the Achievement Gap: A One-Year Progress Report on Education Reform in Massachusetts
Education: Less than 2 years after Massachusetts passed sweeping reform legislation that led to a $250 million ‘Race to the Top’ award from the federal government, an examination of the state’s reform and innovation finds many schools benefitting from the new rules and tools created in the reform legislation in the city of Boston and other districts, but cautions that systemic efforts must be made to broaden and deepen the pace of reform. The report looks at the progress of school reform in the state since the passage of the Achievement Gap Act in January 2010, through close evaluation of data and interviews with stakeholders, and lays out a number of recommendations to support continued change.
 MBAE RTTT Report cover
November 2011
Year 1: Race to the Top in Massachusetts
One year ago, Massachusetts celebrated a $250 million award as the highest-ranked state in the nation’s Race to the Top education grant competition. Race to the Top provides a unique opportunity to institute systemic changes rather than the incremental advances typical of many state-level initiatives. This is our chance to think beyond what can be done to what must be done to ensure a high quality education for every child. This report examines the first year of implementation.
November 18, 2011
The Case for Community Colleges: Aligning Higher Education and Workforce Needs in Massachusetts
Education: This report offers a comprehensive set of recommendations for strategically revamping the Massachusetts community college system to better align it with the needs of a 21st-century workforce. The recommendations emerged from research, by the Workforce Strategy Center and MassINC, that illustrated the challenges facing the Massachusetts community college system and the features of effective community college systems in other states.

June 08, 2011

How Students Are Making It: Perspectives on Getting Through College from Recent Graduates of the Boston Public Schools
Education: Despite our region's higher than average demand for workers with postsecondary degrees, college completion rates for Boston Public Schools graduates are low. Only 28% of non-exam school graduates from the class of 2003 who enrolled in college had obtained a degree six years later. Join us for the discussion of a new report that reflects the experiences of Boston Public Schools graduates in college – in their own words – and explores the similarities and differences among those who are struggling and those who are making it.

 Out of the Debate Executive Summary cover
May 12, 2010

Out of the Debate and Into the Schools
Education: In January 2009, the Boston Foundation, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, published Informing the Debate, which suggested middle and high school students attending charter schools significantly outperform their counterparts attending traditional schools. This new study uses the findings from Informing the Debate as a launching point to delve deeper into the issues that may explain differences in student outcomes – thus moving us out of the debate and into the schools.
April 16, 2009
Who’s Making It: The Academic Achievement of Recent Boston Public School Graduates in the Early College Years
Education: This report takes an in-depth look at the academic experiences of recent Boston Public School graduates during their first two years of college. It finds that students with more rigorous high school preparation had much higher rates of persistence, progress and performance. It also reveals that, not surprisingly, those who attended college continuously, without taking a break do best—and that the efforts colleges make to help students do count. Recommendations for colleges, high school and local leaders are included.
February 12, 2009
The Arts Advantage: Expanding Arts Education in the Boston Public Schools
Education: This report contains new research about the state of arts education in Boston. It provides a detailed picture of current offerings in the schools as well as a set of recommendations advanced by School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson.
January 06, 2009
Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston’s Charter, Pilot and Traditional Schools
Education: On January 6, 2009, the Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a groundbreaking report by a team of Harvard and MIT researchers at an Understanding Boston forum that, for the first time, effectively compares student performance at charter and pilot schools against a similar group of students attending traditional public schools in Boston. The report uses an innovative research design based on school lotteries that made possible a direct comparison of charter and pilot school students with their peers, for the first time.
December 11, 2008
Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card
Education: This report for the first time examines in data-rich detail the entire arc of the educational experience in the city from early childhood through college or post-secondary training and on to the regional workforce. In addition to an unprecedented array of information provided for every school in the district system, the report presents a wealth of contextual information about factors that can inform the ability of Boston school children to make full and best use of what has been described as the best large urban school system in the country.
November 14, 2008
Getting to the Finish Line: College Enrollment and Graduation
Education:This report provides a detailed outline of the story of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Class of 2000 as seen through the lens of college enrollment, graduation and continuing enrollment. This is a study of student experiences and tells us how many students from the BPS Class of 2000 enrolled in two and four year colleges over the seven years following high school graduation.
June 5, 2008
Preparing Our Kids for Education, Work and Life: Youth Aging Out of DSS Care
Health and Human Services: Children and teens in the Massachusetts foster care system are among the most vulnerable residents in our communities, but if they are given the supports they need while in foster care — and while ‘aging out’ of care — they can lead positive, fulfilling lives and become tremendous community assets.
November 9, 2007
A Four-Year Study of Boston’s Pilot High Schools
Education: New research from the Center for Collaborative Education finds that students in Boston’s Pilot high schools outperform students from other non-exam Boston Public Schools on every standard measure of engagement and performance. This level of achievement holds for every racial, economic, and academic subgroup examined.
February 27, 2007 
Massachusetts Community Colleges
Education: This report highlights the important role strong community colleges can contribute to an effective workforce development strategy and to a higher education system that reflects the needs and realities of the new global economy. It also details areas in which community colleges in Massachusetts—with a particular focus on Greater Boston—lag behind national standards in terms of student performance and state support, and identifies best practices that could be used to strengthen these institutions.
October 1, 2004
Opening Doors for Boston’s Children: Lessons Learned in Expanding School-Based After-School Programs Executive Summary
Education: This mid-term report examines what the Boston After-School for All Partnership has accomplished to date and what they have learned about the opportunities and challenges of expansion at school-based after-school programs. The early findings have critical implications for the after-school field that funders, community-based organizations, the city and Boston Public Schools will want to consider as they continue their efforts to extend after-school programming to more youth throughout Boston.
 Coming of Age cover
April 1, 2004 
Coming of Age in Boston: Out-of-School Time Opportunities for Teens
Community Safety: Boston's teen population has grown significantly over the last deacde, and with it has grown the need to address the challenge of high quality out-of-school time experiences for teens. While many Boston area youth grow up participating in a variety of after-school programs, many 'age out' of traditional programs, lose interest or are under increased pressure to improve academically or find employment. Providers are also faced with serious challenges as they work to keep youth engaged in programs, from training qualified staff to developing innovative new models in a climate of funding cuts. Through the leadership of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, which led to the formation o Boston's After-School for All Partnership, Boston has made substantial progress in increasing opportunities for elementary and middle-school students to particiapte in out-of-school time activities. The time has come to focus the same attention on the needs of Boston's teens. Coming of Age in Boston: Out-of-School Time Opportunities for Teens makes a compelling case for turning our attention to providing teens not only with something to do with their free time, but with the support they need to graduate from high school and launch themselves into constructive adult lives.



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