The Best Public Schools in Massachusetts

Best Schools in Massachusetts

We are honored to recognize 29 high quality public schools in Massachusetts. At each of these outstanding schools, the learning community is making outsized impacts on student performance. Congratulations to the parents, students, administrators, support staff, and especially the hardworking and dedicated teachers at these awesome schools. 

Schools are complex ecosystems that cannot be entirely described by one number. Our ratings consider one small facet of a school community: test scores. We do this in a more fair and equitable way than other school rating sites by controlling for variables such as the largest influencer of test scores: socioeconomic status. We want to be clear that schools with low scores in our system can absolutely have a positive learning environment and hardworking and dedicated teachers. Since our ratings only measure test scores as the output of education (albeit within the context of each school’s demographic profile), we have to recognize that low test scores can be the result of both external factors not in the control of the school, and internal factors such as focusing less on standardized testing compared to other schools.

Click here to see ratings for all public schools in Massachusetts. Most of the schools on this list are located in Massachusetts’ three largest cities: Boston, Springfield and Worcester.

We’ve learned a few things from our work with OutPerforming Schools. Based on interviews with administrators at 13 OutPerforming schools in Chicago, we have identified three characteristics that tend to be present at schools where kids are consistently exceeding expectations:

  1. These schools have strong leaders who create a culture of excellence and inclusion; 
  2. They are places where teachers have high morale and little turnover; 
  3. There are at least three collaborative relationships with community organizations providing holistic support. 

Kids thrive in these environments!

Unfair Ratings Hurt Schools and Neighborhoods

It’s a shame that these schools are portrayed poorly by the popular school ratings websites. These 29 schools often get overlooked by parents because of the school ratings assigned by GreatSchools, which are published on all the popular real estate search portals.

The fact that national realtor organizations such as Zillow, Redfin and endorse GreatSchools’ ratings on their websites has contributed to parents trusting their validity. These ratings influence the purchase decisions of homeowners for whom school quality is an important factor.

Anecdotally, real estate brokers report that parents, particularly those who are moving to a new city, want a 7/10 rating or better for their children’s school(s). If the ratings are under 7, many parents are likely to pass over the school and the neighborhoods and homes the school serves. All 29 of these schools score below a 7 on GreatSchools ratings system.

But trusting GreatSchools ratings alone is a mistake.

The reason is twofold: 

  1. Research has shown that test scores are 70-80% attributed to the parents socioeconomic status, not school quality. 
  2. GreatSchools does not take into account each school’s demographic profile when analyzing test scores.

As a result, if you rely on GreatSchools ratings, schools where parents have the highest incomes tend to get high scores, and schools where parents have diverse or moderate to low incomes tend to get low scores. Notice that school quality isn’t even part of the equation.

As a result of these biased ratings, neighborhoods and entire cities across the nation are perceived by parents as undesirable simply because the schools have unfair low ratings. For two examples, read this article by our Founder, Tom Brown.

A Prejudiced Narrative

A prejudiced narrative is being supported that schools with more White kids are the best schools, and schools with more Black and Brown faces are low quality schools.

While we all hope for a society where everyone is treated equally, when it comes to both schools and real estate, race and racism– both individual and systemic — are prevalent.

For a specific example of what we are up against, check out the recent blog post published by Peter Piazza, an educational equity scholar and the Director of School Quality Measures for the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment. Find the tweet and story here, and please retweet!

SchoolSparrow’s Ratings

That’s why we’ve created a more fair and equitable rating system that takes into account each school’s demographic profile.

Our message to parents is this: The school ratings at SchoolSparrow will tell you more truth about how the school community, not socioeconomic status, is impacting student performance on test scores. After all, isn’t that what most parents want?

The good news for parents living in Massachusetts — and the reason for today’s post — is that Massachusetts has more high quality public schools than ratings by GreatSchools would lead you to believe. This post highlights 29 of the best Massachusetts public schools that have not received the credit they deserve. Our hats are off to these high quality public schools in Massachusetts. We see you!

Massachusetts Top 29 OutPerforming Public Schools

We found these schools by searching for every public school in Massachusetts where greater than 80% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged, and the SchoolSparrow rating is 7/10 or better. 

The average SchoolSparrow rating for these schools is 7.9. 

The average GreatSchools rating for these schools is 3.9.

These schools are ranked below by the greatest difference between our ratings and the ratings assigned by GreatSchools.

RankNameCitySchoolSparrow ScoreGreatSchools ScoreDiff
2German Gerena Community SchoolSpringfield 936
3White StreetSpringfield1046
4O W HolmesBoston835
5South Lawrence East Elem SchoolLawrence725
6Irwin M. Jacobs Elementary SchoolNew Bedford725
7Kensington International SchoolSpringfield945
8Renaissance Community Innovation SchoolNew Bedford725
9Sumner AvenueSpringfield1055
10William N. DeBerrySpringfield725
11Burncoat StreetWorcester844
12Carlton M. Viveiros Elementary SchFall River734
13Chandler Elementary CommunityWorcester734
14Frederick HarrisSpringfield844
15Gen John J StefanikChicopee954
16Glickman ElementarySpringfield734
17Milton Bradley SchoolSpringfield844
18Samuel BowlesSpringfield734
19Union Hill SchoolWorcester1064
21Michael J PerkinsBoston743
22Daniel B BruntonSpringfield743
23Homer StreetSpringfield743
24John J DoranFall River853
25Mary M LynchSpringfield743
26Morningside Community SchoolPittsfield743
27Rebecca M JohnsonSpringfield853
28Belmont Street CommunityWorcester862
Best Public Schools in Massachusetts

Please Share our Message

Low school ratings in neighborhoods with histories of inequality do not merely reflect that inequality; they help drive it. @zillow @redfin @realtordotcom, please be fair in your portrayal of historically underserved neighborhoods and cities in the US.

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Our mission is to bring equitable school rankings to all families in the US, so that a home purchase decision can be made with a more balanced view of school quality. Today school rankings are biased towards privileged neighborhoods, and they unfairly discount schools with the socio-economic diversity. We aim to bring equity to school rankings.

You can take action right now to help put an end to discriminatory school rankings. Share this post!

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