Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston's Charter, Pilot and Traditional Schools
Fifteen years ago, lawmakers in Massachusetts sponsored a bold experiment designed to answer this question: If public schools were granted more autonomy to staff their own classrooms, choose their own curricula and manage their own budgets, could they deliver improved student achievement? The first Charter School opened in Boston shortly after the landmark Massachusetts Education Reform Act in 1993. In 1995, the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teacher’s Union responded by creating their own version of the autonomous school model, known as the “Pilot School.” Since then, enrollment has grown rapidly in both types of autonomous schools. Of the public school students in Boston, roughly 17 percent of 10th grade students and 21 percent of those in 7th grade enrolled in Charters and Pilots in the fall of 2007. Fifteen years later, our goal is to assess the impact of these new school models on student achievement.