June 19, 2015

AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN DO WITHOUT RULES:

Massachusetts Takes On a Failing School District (THE EDITORIAL BOARD, JUNE 17, 2015, NY Times)

[T]he receiver, a well-known Boston educator named Jeffrey Riley, understood that the turnaround mission required a scalpel, not a bludgeon, and that even sound plans are likely to fail if parents and community leaders, principals and teachers were not convinced to buy into them.

One of the first things Mr. Riley found was that local parents were eager to help with the schools but had been alienated by school officials who essentially told them to stay away from their buildings. Worse, many school officials had come to believe that dismal results were the best that they could do.

He replaced more than a third of the district's principals right away. He also pushed out the least effective teachers -- about 8 percent of the teacher corps -- and cut the central office bureaucracy by about a third, transferring the savings to the schools. He created leadership roles and awards of recognition for excellent teachers and devised a system for continuously moving poor performers out of the district.

Meanwhile, he lengthened the school day in grades K through 8; created programs to provide still more instruction time for struggling students; and developed a dropout prevention effort that actively seeks out at-risk students before they cut their ties to school. Most interesting, the system brought in charter school operators to take charge of some the lowest-performing schools on the condition that they accept students from the neighborhood instead of filling seats through a lottery. 

Posted by at June 19, 2015 4:50 PM
  

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