Monday, May 24, 2010

Characterizing High Achieving Pilots and Charters

Boston Foundation: Out of the Debate and Into the Schools:

The high achieving case study pilot schools were characterized by shared leadership, flexibility and student focused mission. Pilot school principals were the most experienced among all types of schools, and had more years of experience working in the Boston Public Schools. Leadership of the case study pilot schools was shared among administrators and teachers in almost all aspects of the school. The schools maintained a focus on students and created a system of schooling that was flexible and that could adapt to the changing needs of students in the school and entering into the school. They were each striking in the degree of teacher voice and distributed leadership. Principals and teachers alike discussed the level of influence teachers had in the school. As a result, the school benefitted from actively engaged and motivated teachers who collaborated to build on one another's skills toward a common goal.

The high achieving case study charter schools were characterized by centralized leadership functions including monitoring for standards, teachers focused on classroom instruction, and a common philosophy among staff focused on high levels of achievement for all students. The charter schools had younger, less experienced staff than the traditional or pilot schools, and thus centralized many school functions (e.g., discipline, community engagement), with the exception of curriculum and instruction, both of which were delegated to teachers. Teachers worked longer school days and longer school years than teachers in traditional and pilot schools. Students were in school for longer days than traditional and pilot school students, and thus spent more time on academic work than their counterparts in other types of schools. These schools also had many routines and rituals for staff and students, who were clearly monitored.

I've not seen that distinction expressed so clearly before. It isn't inherently a pilot/charter thing though -- it would be nice if there were specific words to explain these two styles independent of their governance structure. That is, there are some charters that are run like high performing pilot schools, and vice versa.

I also think the subtle distinction between being focused on the "changing needs of students" and being "focused on high levels of achievement for all students" is telling.

1 comment:

jd2718 said...

First "Providence" and now "pilot" -- without opening the post I can no longer tell if you are writing about the game or the world.

Jonathan