This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Chris Sinacola and David Ferreira, co-editors of Pioneer’s new book, Hands-On Achievement: Massachusetts’s National Model Vocational-Technical Schools. They share information from their new book on the story of the Bay State’s nation-leading voc-tech schools, and how accountability tools from the state’s 1993 education reform law propelled their success. They talk about the pivot from the singular focus on occupational education, to a more balanced approach that required a solid grounding in high-quality reading and math skills. They review Massachusetts’s voc-tech schools’ status as high schools of choice, and how this impacts these schools’ remarkable graduation rates, and high demand. They discuss voc-tech schools’ success at educating special needs students, who enroll in these schools at disproportionately high rates. They explore how best to close racial achievement gaps, and how voc-techs have partnered with businesses and unions alike to help place their students in careers. The interview concludes with a reading from their new book.

Stories of the Week: In New Mexico, the Governor has submitted an education reform plan, after a 2018 court order requiring statewide education reforms to address inequities impacting students with disabilities, English language learners English, Native Americans, low-income students. Has the focus on raising academic achievement pushed out physical education from K-12 schools?