Friday, January 20, 2017

CURMUDGUCATION: How Not To Improve Schools + What Do You Want?

CURMUDGUCATION: How Not To Improve Schools:

How Not To Improve Schools

Image result for throwing money out the window

The report is in from the US Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences-- "School Improvement Grants: Implementation and Effectiveness." It is our last lesson in school reform from the Obama-Duncan-King education department, and although that version of the department is being bulldozed under even as I type, there are still important lessons to be learned here.

The full report is over 400 pages long, and if you want to read the whole thing, be my guest. But I don't think there are any devils lurking in these details. Because the fourth-of-five findings pretty much tells the story:

Overall, across all grades, we found that implementing any SIG -funded model had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment. 

The Obama administration spent $3 billion dollars on school improvement grants (actually $7 billion by the time you factor it all in), and it did not produce any measurable improvements, at all.

Some folks are going to jump straight from there to their favorite conclusion-- throwing more money at schools doesn't do any good. But that's the wrong conclusion, for two reasons.

First, this results of the study are inconclusive because they checked only for Big Standardized Test scores, graduation rate, and college enrollment. For the sixty gazzilionth time, let me point out that these are narrow, twisted, not-very-good measures of education. I would argue, for instance, that if the three billion had been used to add music and art teachers to every single school in America, education would have been vastly improved-- but that improvement would not show up in a study like this. Likewise more guidance counselors, more welding instructors or field trips would improve 
CURMUDGUCATION: How Not To Improve Schools:

What Do You Want?
In teacher school, we're taught that effective classroom management involves focusing on what you want the students to do, not what you don't want them to do. In other words, "stop twiddling your thumbs" is less effective than "please read the story." I always think of Larry Shreckengost, my high school driver'

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