Friday, April 08, 2011

Why Obama's Education Policies Put Providence's High Schools in an Irreversible Death Spiral

Dr. Baker provides a couple helpful graphs:

Here’s Rhode Island:

Here's Connecticut:

Now, say each state has to turnaround 5% of its lowest performing schools every year, and both % of ELL and % receiving free and reduced lunch strongly influence school performance. In Connecticut, there are between 5 and 10 districts, mostly small cities, from which these low-performing schools are likely to come. In the city-state of Rhode Island, you've got the aberration of the city-neighborhood of Central Falls, whose schools will probably be tiny enough to drown in a bathtub within the decade, and then Providence. Virtually all the lowest-performing schools will always come from Providence, and, at the high school level at least, they will fail to meet all their growth targets, which, particularly in math, are absurdly unrealistic.

In most other states, the pain will at least be spread among several cities. And even when there is one big city, it will often be bigger than Providence. We are quickly going to run out of high schools to turn around. We're already half-way through them.

And it is worth mentioning that the existence of Classical High School makes the situation even worse. Among districts in Rhode Island, only Providence siphons its highest-scoring students off into a single school, depressing the scores of every other school. This has been an equity issue for years, but now it virtually guarantees that the rest of the district's high schools, if Obama gets his way, will spend the next five years or so in a painful sham "turnaround" before being turned over to private management.

And even then, many of those schools will predictably fail, be restarted, etc. ad nauseum.

In other states, there may at least be some hope that poor cities can compete among each other to avoid the worst of this process, but Providence's (and Central Fall's) fate is effectively sealed by geography and demography.

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