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Central MA’s #1 School: Mass Academy for Math and Science School

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Photo: http://www.massacademy.org/

Worcester’s Mass Academy for Math and Science School not only takes the #1 spot for best high schools in Central Massachusetts, but according to our GoLocalWorcester research, it’s also considered the 10th best high school in the state. The school only enrolls 100 academically accelerated 11th and 12th graders. According to the school, the course load exceeds high school honors and AP classes. It provides students with more than 1200 hours of instruction. Seniors have a huge advantage when they graduate from Mass Academy for Math and Science School. They complete a full year of college by enrolling in classes at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a nationally ranked engineering school. There is no tuition charged to the student. The Academy is the only public school in Massachusetts whose students are enrolled in a private university full-time during their senior year.

School Statistics

Mass Academy is certainly a very small school, with an enrollment of just 96 students during the 2010-2011 year. They have 12.1 students per teacher. The state average is 15. They spend $12,906 per student, which is below the state average of $13,704. 100% of their students graduated in 2010. Their SAT scores were off the charts! Students average a 661 on verbal, 662 on writing and 703 on math.

It was founded in 1992 by the Massachusetts State Legislature as a public magnet school to serve academically advanced students.
The Academy requires that its students complete 56 hours of community service per year.

Junior year students attend classes from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. except on Wednesdays when the school day is shortened to end at 12 p.m.

Students must apply during their sophomore year. However, Juniors can elect to repeat 11th grade at the Academy. The admissions process is obviously very selective. Grades and teacher recommendations are heavily weighted.
The Academy encourages students who wish to attend to visit the school for a day. These visitors, called "shadows," follow a host student so as to experience a typical day.

Mass Academy's Approach

Mass Academy's director, Michael Barney said, " Our goal is to foster both collaboration and independence. During junior year, students focus on inquiry based learning. They work on two major projects (STEM I and II-Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) which promote scientific research and engineering methods. STEM I is an independent research project, requiring students to conduct independent research: review the literature, develop researchable questions and relate evidence so that they start to think like young scientists, engineers and mathematicians. STEM II requires students to work in small teams to engineer a new product or process, usually an assistive technology device. Students utilize the engineering design process to search patents, apprentice in shops and labs, build prototypes, and demonstrate their products to a panel of expert judges. Each year, patent applications and, from time to time, patent awards emerge from these classes. Application of their knowledge is key."

Preparing Students for College

Barney said their junior-year program is rich in project-based assignments, technology, teamwork, and inquiry

Photo: http://www.massacademy.org/

learning. He said their senior year program is the same as the freshmen year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which  prepares students well for whatever they choose to do beyond their Mass Academy experience.

Extra Curricular Activities

There's very little Mass Academy doesn't do to enrich their students. They offer many extracurricular activities including the FIRST robotics team (they were World Champions in 2007), Mock Trial, math team, speech and debate, acapella group, GSA and student government. The students even publish a scientific journal. For sports, they have an indoor soccer team. If students come up with a new idea for a club or organization and can generate enough interest, they will run it.

Fun Facts about the School 

Mass Academy students have been awarded 9 opportunities for patents from the MIT state science fair.
In the last 5 years, we have had 6 Mass Academy graduates enrolled in the UMASS medical school.

 Famous Alumni 

Melissa Tata is the President of the Society of Women Engineers, is a 12-year Dell veteran and currently serves as the director of engineering and supply chain program management.


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