From Massachusetts Economic Development Guide 2023-24

Students Set Up for Success

From MIT to elementary, avenues for academic achievement are abundant.

Students at Berkshire Community College use a digital anatomy table.
Photo courtesy of Berkshire Community College


ith a litany of prestigious universities scattered throughout the state, these meccas of higher education have set the bar high for each level of learning in the Commonwealth. From kindergarten to postgraduate, Massachusetts gives its citizens access to excellent opportunities for education.

Consistently ranked as the No. 1 public school system in America, Massachusetts schools produce students who show exceptional academic promise, boasting the overall highest math, reading and median ACT scores in the country. Much of this success can be attributed to the Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA) enacted in 1993. The law introduced a systematic redesign of public education in Massachusetts and sought to establish new academic standards and frameworks for the curriculum that ensured high student achievement rates. With significantly increased funding, MERA distributed the budget necessary for adequate education across each district. 

After an assessment of MERA’s impact, in 2019, the Student Opportunity Act was created to funnel additional financial support into school districts in low-income areas. With this supplemental funding, the Commonwealth ensured equal access to a high-level education across economically disadvantaged communities. When representatives signed the legislation in November of that year, Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Education Committee, noted, “This landmark legislation, years in the making, recommits our Commonwealth to one of its most fundamental values ­— that every child deserves access to a high-quality public education. Massachusetts will now have the most progressive school funding formula in the nation, designed to address the troubling opportunity and achievement gaps that persist in our public education system.”  

More Support for Workforce Preparation

In 2015, the Workforce Skills Cabinet put forth the Skills Capital Grants program, intended to help high schools, colleges and other educational institutions update their training equipment. With this new high-tech equipment, the state hoped to give students an advantage upon entering the workplace. The grants covered costs for tools for construction, engineering, healthcare, and hospitality fields of study. In the years since the Skills Capital Grants were first introduced, 538 Skills Capital Grants totaling $204 million have been awarded to different educational institutions across the state. 

Most recently, in July 2022, $15 million in workforce training grants were awarded to Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges. This initiative is geared towards expanding training programs in high-demand industries such as education, manufacturing, information technology and cybersecurity, with one-third of funding focused on building capacity in training programs for the healthcare industry. Through this act, 1,500 individuals will receive specialized training at no cost. Investing in these students secures a prosperous future for Massachusetts, as 90% of Massachusetts Community College alums stay within the Commonwealth.

“These grants complement our administration’s ongoing work to address the skills gap by building additional training capacity at all the Commonwealth’s community colleges, so people have opportunities to gain hands-on skills and knowledge in growing industries,” said former Gov. Charlie Baker. “It is crucial that we provide more residents with quality training options and eliminate the gaps between what skills the Massachusetts workforce has and what skills employers need.”

The Bay State’s continual efforts to broaden educational opportunities are reflected in the achievements of its thriving industries. As a leader at the forefront in clean, green, and blue technologies, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, financial services, information technology, aerospace, defense and robotics, the Commonwealth has continued to funnel resources into the education of its most essential workers. Now, in creating access to an adequate education across all age groups, Massachusetts shows that it is never too early to start on the path to success. 

Site Selection online is a worldwide service of Conway Data, Inc. ©1983-2024, all rights reserved. Data is from many sources and not warranted to be accurate or current. To unsubscribe from our print magazine, contact Julie Clarke. For general inquiries, visit our contact page. For technical inquiries contact the Webmaster.