Massachusetts has much to be proud of in education. Throughout the history of the United States, Massachusetts has been a national leader in public education. In 1635, Massachusetts sparked a movement to compulsory education with the establishment of the Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in America. A champion of educational rights for all children, Massachusetts was one of the first states to guarantee educational rights for children with disabilities.
In 1993, Massachusetts continued this tradition of leadership by passing the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993(MERA).For the first time in the history of public education in Massachusetts, MERA called for all children - regardless of where they lived, their family income, the language they spoke, or whether or not they had special learning needs - to have a fair and equal access to an excellent education. Massachusetts’ goal is for all students to get the skills, tools, and knowledge they need to graduate from high school and be prepared for higher education or employment.
Today, this bold goal is reinforced by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This federal education law set the whole nation on the road to raising the educational achievement of all students in all states. NCLB set a national goal for all students to be “proficient” in English language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics by 2014. (“Proficient” means “competent” and that students are at grade level.)
Much of the federal NCLB law is modeled on MERA. Massachusetts educational standards are national models of rigor and quiality. Massachusetts ranks at the top of the states in national assessments, and is near the top globally in science and math.
Both MERA and NCLB radically increased expectations of students and schools. Both laws follow a model of reform called “standards-based education reform".