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A Longer School Day? In Massachusetts, Some Schools See Big Payoff

FALL RIVER, Mass. — In public education the true prize is finding a way to reach all kids, wherever they start, and get them to the finish line with skills strong enough to succeed as adults. But even in Massachusetts, repeatedly held up as a national model for student achievement, this seemingly simple goal remains elusive.

For two decades since passing an ambitious reform plan in 1993, the state has surged in overall scores and college enrollment, doing well enough in science and math to rate near the top of the world.

Yet black and Latino students lag Asians and whites by more than 30 percentage points, a gap larger than Washington’s and one that makes education leaders wince when applauded for their wins.