METCO Merits More: The History and Status of METCO
Since 1966, the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) program has been busing students from Boston and Springfield, MA to quality schools in suburbs that volunteer to participate. Today, the program now links 3,300 students—most low-income and minority—with thirty-seven receiving districts. This white paper from Boston’s Pioneer Institute and the Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard assesses the effectiveness of METCO and offers recommendations to expand it. Overall, the authors find that METCO students consistently beat their peers in Boston and Springfield on state tests. Further, 93 percent of METCO students graduate on time (30 percentage points higher than the Boston or Springfield average) and 90 percent go on to post-secondary education. In light of these successes, Pioneer recommends increased state funding for the program (as well as district reimbursements and competitive grants for participation) and the expansion of METCO to other urban districts in the Bay State. Regrettably, the authors’ analyses of the program’s effectiveness can’t control for student motivation, parent income or education, or selection bias. It will be up to legislators on Beacon Hill to decide whether these promising—but less than “gold standard”—findings warrant an additional investment.
Susan Eaton and Gina Chirichigno, “METCO Merits More: The History and Status of METCO” (Boston, M.A.: The Pioneer Institute, 2011).
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