Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scaling Up “Successful” Reforms (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Scaling Up “Successful” Reforms (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Scaling Up “Successful” Reforms 

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Recently a journalist contacted me to discuss the closure of a Carpe Diem school in Indianapolis after five years and the jeopardy of the charter network’s expansion from its original Yuma (AZ) location (see here and here; YouTube marketing video here).
We talked about the historic difficulties of “scaling up” innovations in public schools. I offered some examples of how hard it is to take a “successful” innovation and grow it quickly elsewhere in the name of efficiency (economies of scale) and effectiveness (to help more children and youth). In many instances, pressure to “scale up” from pilot projects to networks of schools seeded in different locations came from ambitious school officials, impatient donors, and entrepreneurial investors. Too often they overlooked the common teacher practice of adapting an innovation to the specific setting, a practice that is as old as teaching itself. Classroom adaptations, of course, alter the innovation.
After we got off the phone I recalled other innovations over the past 60 years that tried to “scale up” from pilot projects. Many stumbled in their expansion, especially those aimed at altering how teachers traditionally teach, for  reasons that contemporary reformers might heed before thinking big.
One that came to mind was the Higher Horizons Project in New York City between the late-1950s through the mid-1960s.
A 1964 report summarized the program’s origin in a pilot junior high school and then its rapid expansion to scores of other city schools.
Higher Horizons originated as a program to uncover latent ability among Scaling Up “Successful” Reforms (Part 1) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

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