Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reform Lessons from Skeptical But Not Cynical Veterans | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Reform Lessons from Skeptical But Not Cynical Veterans | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Reform Lessons from Skeptical But Not Cynical Veterans


Eleven years ago, Jane David and I  wrote “Cutting Through the Hype: A Taxpayer’s Guide to School Reforms.” A short book inventorying 20 popular reforms (many are still around now), sliced away the “truthful hyperbole” and parsed them in ways that teachers, administrators, policymakers, and academics could easily understand. Still in print with Harvard Education Press, I looked at the final chapter summing up what we learned from our brief journey through the school reform world and found the advice we offered then relevant to the current generation of over-caffeinated entrepreneurial policymakers, donors, and ardent practitioners pushing their visions of better schooling.  Here are the lessons we had learned about school reforms circa 2006.
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Don’t swallow the hype. If a reform sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Programs peddled as miracle cures nearly always fail to deliver desired results, and therefore disappoint. Disappointment, in turn, breeds cynicism and helplessness. Policymakers and advocates need to shrink their their overpromising on what reforms can deliver and lower the volume of attacks on what is wrong with our public schools. At the same time,educators and citizens need to be skeptical of the hype and press for more truth in advertising to support reform claims and the conditions essential for success.
Kick the tires. Do the logic and assumptions of the reform hold up? Reforms aim to increase student achievement, yet most are targeted at a point many steps removed from the classroom. Reconfiguring grade levels, ending social promotion, and merit pay, for example, are all promoted as ways to improve teaching and learning, but the path from each to better teaching and higher test scores is far from clear. Policymakers and reform advocates should provide solid arguments and evidence linking their proposals to promised outcomes.
It’s the implementation, stupid. Policymakers neither administer schools nor teach students; they make policy for both from afar. Whether the policy is a new program or a new way of operating, the ideas are only as good as those who put them into practice. In fact, how well a program is implemented can matter Reform Lessons from Skeptical But Not Cynical Veterans | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

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