About the Gateway Cities Vision
In 2013, Gateway City leaders came together to develop an “education vision.” Their farsighted plan leverages unique urban assets to create exceptional learning environments. Achieving this vision is fundamental to making Gateway Cities more attractive communities for families to live and more productive places for employers to locate. In today’s economy, nothing is more central to the economic revitalization of these cities and their regions than realizing this education vision.
That is why Gateway City leaders must be attuned to the ongoing discussion about changing Massachusetts’s approach to education accountability. To comply with federal law under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Massachusetts will overhaul its education accountability policies in early 2017.
The decisions state education officials make over the next few months are critically important in two respects: First, by ranking schools according to performance as required by the federal law, state accountability policies tell the public where they can find a good education. If the new formula the state designs to sort schools is not sensitive to the complexity of inclusive urban districts, Gateway Cities will have great difficulty attracting both families with young children and talented educators to their communities.
Second, by holding schools responsible for demonstrating results, the design of state accountability policy sends strong signals about what to prioritize. Gateway Cities will have great difficulty marshaling resources to achieve the components of their shared vision if accountability policies are not aligned.
We spent the better part of 2016 talking with Gateway City educators about how they can tap into the unique opening ESSA presents to advance their shared vision. We hope it proves useful to a broad cross-section of Gateway City leaders, and inspires them to speak out as these issues move to the forefront for state education policymakers.