Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Can This Type Of Success Be Repeated?

Joanne Jacobs:
Under a new principal, a Teach for America grad, Bunche Elementary raised its scores to the top 30 percent in the state. The school, located in an LA suburb, didn’t receive any extra state money to fund the turn around. Instead, the principal redirected existing funding for priorities such as paying teachers to tutor after school. The LA Times explains Bunche’s strategy.

1. Begin with classroom discipline. In her first year, Principal Mikara Solomon Davis issued more than 100 suspensions at the school of 467 students. Many of the suspensions are served in school, so students are removed from their classrooms but their work still is supervised.

2. Hire carefully. Applicants write an essay explaining their teaching philosophy and how it would boost test scores. They must demonstrate lessons with students in front of administrators, other teachers and parents. They’re also asked if they’re willing to tutor outside of regular class time.
There's much more over at Jacobs' place.

Now I know what many of you are thinking out there in EduLand: How can our local public schools get a side-order of what Bunche Elementary is having?

The answer, of course, starts with the hiring and retention of the highest caliber of leadership.

School systems could begin by actually promoting folks based upon their qualifications, ability to "think outside the box," and a proven track-record of success based upon their classroom teaching experience.

But of course, in all-too-many public school systems, the implementation of merit-based promotion (rather than promotion that is based upon cronyism and other forms of political connections) would be unthinkable as most school systems are organized around an all-powerful (and largely autocratic) superintendent who often distributes administrative positions to his or her political allies like so much Halloween candy.

For systemic change to occur, accountability for results needs to extend beyond the level of those who are in the classroom.

And accountability at the administrative level continues to be the missing element in most American public school systems
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