Boston MATCH School Goes Beyond 'No Excuses'
Since its inception in 2000, the Media and Technology Charter High (MATCH) School in Boston has drawn its predominantly black and Hispanic students largely from the city's poorest demographic, and most of its students enter ninth grade achieving well below grade level. Yet 100 percent of its 2005 graduates went on to college.
Among the Bay State's 334 open-admissions schools, MATCH's 2005 tenth-graders ranked first in math (96 percent) and 14th in English (92 percent) for the percentage of students scoring at proficient or above on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam.
Tutoring Program Worked
Adopting a "no excuses" approach will produce a big gain in achievement, but more is needed at the high school level, said MATCH School founder and CEO Michael Goldstein. It's not plausible, he argued, for a teacher to concurrently teach new material and remedy large accumulated deficits in basic skills.
At the MATCH School, remediation is accomplished through an extensive tutoring program. (See "MATCH School Shows Poverty Isn't Destiny," School Reform News, October 2003.)
Last year, the school scaled up its tutoring effort by launching the MATCH Corps Urban Fellowships. In that pioneering program, 45 top college graduates from universities nationwide work as full-time, one-on-one tutors at the MATCH School for one year in exchange for housing and a small stipend.
The goal of the corps is to eliminate the achievement gap between MATCH students and their suburban peers, first by improving math and English skills in grades 9 and 10, and then by improving critical-thinking skills in grades 11 and 12.
Lives Have Changed
"In the first two years, a lot of the focus is on being able to learn how to read, how to write a short essay, how to do algebra and geometry, and all of the basics behind that," Goldstein said. In the final two years, the focus is on learning to handle more complex subject matter, such as Advanced Placement calculus, and more challenging reading material.
Jonathan Correia, a University of Massachusetts Lowell student who graduated from MATCH School in June 2004, was one of the school's first students. Based on his experiences there, his younger sister, Margaret, also chose to attend MATCH School even though she had been accepted by one of Boston's selective-enrollment schools. She graduated in June 2005 and is now a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
"[Jonathan] was good in math but not in English, and he kept falling through the cracks," said his mother, Sarah Correia, of Brighton, Massachusetts. "He did much better once I got him to the MATCH. It made a lot of difference because they worked hard with him and he got more attention. With Margaret, I think it made a difference because her teachers pushed her."
George Clowes (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Heartland Institute senior fellow.
For more information ...
For more information, visit the MATCH School's Web site at http://www.matchschool.org.
Also see "MATCH School Shows Poverty Isn't Destiny," School Reform News, October 2003, http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=12948.