Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 2 Fiscal Year 2015

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Investing in Education to Close the Achievement Gap

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Governor Patrick    FY 2015 Budget Recommendation:
    Key Initiatives

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor

Governor Patrick understands that investing in education is essential to creating opportunities and ensuring Massachusetts has a top-tier, competitive workforce. Since taking office in 2007, the Patrick Administration has worked diligently with the Legislature, educators, students, families and community partners to build a 21st century public education system in the Commonwealth and provide the targeted support that each student needs to be successful.

Patrick Administration Accomplishments

The Patrick Administration has made tremendous progress in supporting student achievement as evidenced by the performance of Massachusetts students who continue to lead their peers on national and international measures of student achievement. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) the Commonwealth’s students have led the nation on the Reading and Mathematics exams in the fourth and eighth grades since 2005. In Quality Counts 2014, a comprehensive ranking of state education performance and policy by Education Week, Massachusetts maintained its ranking as first in the nation in K-12 achievement and in offering students a chance for success across their entire education lifetime. In addition, Massachusetts students exceeded the national average and scored among the top-performing education systems worldwide in reading, mathematics and science literacy according to triennial results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment.  Finally, Massachusetts public high school students are among the top performing students in the nation on the 2013 SAT. Massachusetts attracts top employers in innovative economic sectors based, in part, on our highly educated workforce.

Governor Patrick has continually prioritized closing the achievement gap across the education spectrum, from early education through K-12 and higher education. Investing in education and ensuring that all children have access to high-quality educational opportunities, regardless of where they live, is essential to creating opportunity across the Commonwealth and growing the Massachusetts economy.  Some of the Administration’s accomplishments include:

  • The Achievement Gap ActGovernor Patrick signed into law this groundbreaking and historic education reform bill to transform public schools in Massachusetts.
  • Innovation Schools – As part of the Achievement Gap Act, Governor Patrick created Innovation Schools which provide educators with new tools and autonomies to better prepare their students for success.  There are now 44 Innovation Schools in operation across the Commonwealth.
  • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and CareersThis partnership among states has provided Massachusetts with $186 M in federal funding to create new student assessment systems.
  • Data Sharing – The Patrick Administration has organized IT systems for Pre-K through grade 20 to identify and predict students at risk for low achievement and for dropout. 
  • RoxMAPP – Governor Patrick launched the Roxbury Massachusetts Academic Polytech Pathway (RoxMAPP) last year, as a first-of-its-kind partnership between the state and the City of Boston that will allow students attending Madison Park Technical Vocational High School to enroll in a dual enrollment pathway at Roxbury Community College.
  • Gateway Cities Education Agenda grants – The Patrick Administration awarded 22 grants to increase college readiness and provide targeted support to English language learners in our Gateway Cities.
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – The Administration dedicated $1.9 B in federal stimulus funding to support and improve Massachusetts schools.
  • Race to the Top – Massachusetts received the highest score in the federal Race to the Top competition and received $250 M to implement innovative K-12 strategies. Massachusetts was awarded an additional $50 M through the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge competition, becoming one of only six states in the nation to receive both early education and K-12 Race to the Top awards.

Governor Patrick’s investment of $6.67 B in education in FY 2015, a $205 M increase over FY 2014, will continue the Administration’s work to close achievement gaps and ensure that students of all ages are prepared to succeed in the classroom and beyond. 

Expansion of Early Education for Infants, Toddlers and Preschool Children

Providing access to high-quality early education programs is a central part of addressing the achievement gap. The Governor’s FY 2015 budget reflects a commitment to early education and care by making significant investments in supporting and increasing access to high-quality child care programs for some of our most underprivileged children. The significant new investments will provide:

Title: Early Education Funding Initatives - Description: The four funding initiatives proposed in this budget include Supporting the Current Caseload, Expanding Access, Ensuring High-Quality and Safe and Supportive Classrooms.

  • $40.2 M to support children already served by the Department of Early Education and Care, including maintaining FY 2014 investments that saw 2,400 new students removed from the waitlist;
  • $15 M in additional funding to increase access to high-quality early education programs for 1,700 qualified children from birth to age five;
  • $2.5 M to ensure that increased access is paired with providing high-quality early education environments for children and youth; and
  • $800 K to ensure children are enrolled in safe and supportive early education programs through additional oversight of child care centers.

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Programs

Increasing educational opportunities for children ages four and five will support Governor Patrick’s long-standing goal of universal third grade literacy.  It is widely accepted that literacy by the third grade is one of the most significant milestones in a child’s academic career and an important predictor of future academic success. Targeted investments to expand and support the number of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms available statewide will both reward districts that have established pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms and incentivize districts to create or expand existing ones. In FY 2015, Governor Patrick proposes to invest:

  • $3.1 M to increase and refocus kindergarten expansion grants to provide communities without full-day kindergarten classrooms the ability to offer such classrooms;
  • $2 M to provide competitive start-up grants for school districts interested in establishing pre-kindergarten classrooms; and
  • $2 M to increase Chapter 70 to fully finance pre-kindergarten costs for school districts who offer pre-kindergarten classrooms.

Expanding Learning Time

One effective strategy for closing the achievement gap is to provide students with access to additional enrichment opportunities beyond the traditional school day. This is especially true in high-need, low-income schools that face particular challenges in closing the achievement gap. A targeted investment of $4.5 M in FY 2015 will support the Patrick Administration’s goal of providing additional educational enrichment to enhance students’ ability to succeed both in and out of the classroom. This investment will expand learning time for high-need populations by providing targeted grants for middle schools in low-income school districts, create a dedicated funding stream to provide competitive grants to Level 3 schools that are seeking an expanded school day or school year and offer competitive grants to school districts whose approved Innovation School plans include expanded learning time.

Title: Patrick Administration Chapter 70 Funding Level - Description: This chart depicts Chapter 70 funding since Fiscal Year 2006. Since 2006, spending in Chapter 70 has increased $1.1 B, or 34% under Governor Patrick. Source: Executive Office for Administration and Finance

K-12 Investments

Governor Patrick has consistently prioritized Chapter 70 funding as the primary method by which the state supports local K-12 public education. Despite facing one of the most severe recessions in U.S. history, the Patrick Administration has continued to fund Chapter 70 at historic levels. The FY 2015 budget will continue to increase this historic funding level by an additional $100 M to bring this support for communities to an unprecedented $4.4 B. This funding level represents more than a $1 B, or 34 % increase in Chapter 70 funding since the beginning of the Patrick Administration.

This proposal will fully fund all schools at foundation levels, will include all students that currently receive pre-kindergarten services and will provide a minimum $25 per pupil increase. This funding is intended to increase equity and access among all school districts and allow local educational authorities the flexibility to fund initiatives most needed in their communities, whether that is special education, Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) support, literacy programming or other programs.

Title: Photo of Governor Patrick - Description: This Photo depicts Govenror Patrick reading to children on a visit to a Commonwealth school. Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Advancing Student Performance

In 2013, the Patrick Administration announced that 40% of schools that were declared as underperforming in 2010 had met their three-year turnaround goals. Despite many successful turnaround efforts across the Commonwealth, Governor Patrick is committed to offering all schools the resources and opportunities to improve student performance and to enhance educational equity. To that end, Governor Patrick proposes to invest $3.1 M in the Innovation Schools initiative for schools interested in pursuing innovative approaches to improving student performance.

The FY 2015 investment will allow more schools looking to improve student performance the opportunity to apply for Innovation School planning grants. Innovation Schools are similar to charter schools in that they operate with greater flexibility in order to implement innovative strategies to improve student achievement while keeping school funding within districts. There are currently 44 operational Innovation Schools across the Commonwealth and expanding that number will give students and families greater access to high-quality schools.

Investments in Gateway Cities

In FY 2015, the Administration will sustain and expand upon its efforts to support some of our neediest students and families, many of which are located in the Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities. The Gateway Cities Education Agenda, which Governor Patrick launched in November 2011, is based on five core principles:

Gateway Cities Education Agenda
1. Providing comprehensive support so that all students come to school healthy and ready to learn;
2. Renewing our commitment to high standards and rigorous accountability;
3. Offering differentiated services and support to all students;
4. Promoting new expectations for college and career readiness; and
5. Promoting innovative educational practices and building stronger partnerships across the state.


In FY 2015, Governor Patrick proposes to dedicate $1.25 M to support locally-designed and implemented initiatives in the Gateway Cities. $750 K of this investment will support students to work simultaneously on the completion of a high school diploma from a partnering school district while earning free college credits toward an Associate Degree or certificate at a partner community college. $500 K will launch Re-Engagement Centers in selected Gateway Cities to provide flexible academic programs and multiple pathways to graduation for students at risk of dropping out.

In addition to this new investment, the Patrick Administration will maintain its commitment to fund successful Gateway City initiatives. The Gateway City Career Academies and the English Language Learners initiatives are proven and effective strategies that provide targeted assistance to populations that disproportionately face an achievement gap. Investing in the English Language Learners initiative at the level proposed in the Governor’s budget will expand this program beyond the 14 Gateway Cities currently being served. Governor Patrick will also leverage federal grant awards such as the combined $350 M Race to the Top funding for early learning and K-12 the state has won to implement a wide array of strategies in the Gateway Cities.

Closing the Achievement Gap at the College Level

Postsecondary education is increasingly necessary to enter our modern workforce, but rising college costs leave many students struggling to afford higher education. The FY 2015 achievement gap initiatives will expand opportunities for affordable higher education for Massachusetts residents. An additional $68.4 M will be directed to the University of Massachusetts, the State Universities and Community Colleges to enable the campuses to invest in the development of our future leaders.

Additionally, for the first time ever, the Governor’s FY 2014 budget funded the Massachusetts Community Colleges using a new funding formula developed in consultation with the presidents of the Community Colleges, the leadership of the Massachusetts Community College Council, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Administration’s Executive Office of Education (EOE), Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED). The formula addressed the following factors:

  • Large inequities in per-student funding that have arisen as the result of substantial increases in enrollment and changing student populations;
  • The importance of linking state appropriations to institutional performance toward statewide goals and priorities identified in the Vision Project that was approved by the Board of Higher Education, including increasing graduation and success rates, closing achievement and attainment gaps and advancing the Commonwealth’s workforce development goals; and
  • The need to strengthen the role of the community colleges in preparing students for jobs in the state’s rapidly evolving innovation economy.

Continuing on this success, an additional $13.2 M will be distributed in the Governor’s FY 2015 budget to the Community Colleges through the new funding formula. In FY 2015, a similar formula will be developed for Massachusetts State Universities in order to continue progress linking higher education funding to the statewide priorities of educational and workforce development and align funding with individual campus demographic factors such as population and campus-level financial aid needs.

Governor’s Priorities in the Program Budget

For more information on the Governor’s priority of Closing the Achievement Gap in program format, please visit, the online version of the FY 2015 Governor’s Budget.  Click on the Administration Priorities tab in the FY 2015 Program Budget Recommendations Quick Link. The tab will open to show a list of the Governor’s priorities and the core set of programs that are critical in supporting the goals of each initiative.

Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information email: (617) 727-2040

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