Monday, January 24, 2011

Down the Memory Hole

Julia Steiny discusses Gates Foundation small school reform in her weekly ProJo education column:

In 2008, quite unexpectedly, Gates pulled the plug. Test scores weren’t rising. According to the only measure it valued, the project was failing. Interestingly, Gates announced at the time “many (newly smaller) schools had higher attendance and graduation rates than their peers. While we were pleased with these improvements, we are trying to raise college-ready graduation rates, and in most cases, we fell short.”

There went baby and bath water.

You are not wrong, parents. Test scores rule.

Note to education industry: Your values are not in synch with those of the parents. Parents prize higher attendance and graduation rates because they prove that the kids want to go to school. Parents would love their kids to be academic stars, but are also painfully aware that the kid has to get there first and has to want to learn.

Here’s the kicker: The Gates-made-smaller schools did not revert to anonymity, but kept working.

And certain researchers continued to collect data on these schools.

So just recently, reports about the longest-established Gates schools in New York City and Oregon are showing that the schools are now making significant academic gains. It took a while, but in the end, the project worked.

Of course, there were a bunch of these schools in Providence, too, which were successful and are now almost completely closed or re-merged, but the ProJo has never really covered that as a story.

I can't even get mad about this one. I'm just baffled.

4 comments:

jd2718 said...

"So just recently, reports about the longest-established Gates schools in New York City and Oregon are showing that the schools are now making significant academic gains. It took a while, but in the end, the project worked."

Sorry, in the case of New York, if the report exists, and if the reporter has summarized it accurately, it's nonsense.

Tom Hoffman said...

Yes, that too!

jd2718 said...

So I e-mailed the author, looking for a link to the report, or at least the name.

So far? No response.

Tom Hoffman said...

Yes, not surprising.