Monday, December 09, 2019

Close Ineffective Schools?

Let's start with the information:
School closure is relatively common in the United States. An analysis by the Urban Institute found that about 2% of public schools, on average, were closed each year between 2003 and 2013, and these closures were found in urban, suburban, and rural communities.[1] A substantial number of public schools have been closed in Michigan, California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Urban school systems that have closed several schools include New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore.

In many cases, schools are closed in response to declining populations or other factors that led to a substantial decline in available resources. In other cases, school boards and elected officials struggle with the decision of what to do with persistently ineffective schools. Should they supply such schools with additional resources and attention to spur improvements? Or is it better simply to close schools where students consistently underperform and to enroll them in others?

This paper argues that, based on the available research, closing persistently ineffective schools can be a promising strategy for improving the educational outcome of the students who attend them.
What constitutes an "ineffective" school?  What can schools do when students don't pull their own weight?  As I have so many times, I put much of the responsibility for student performance on the students and families.  I have students only 1 hour per day--I can do a lot, but I don't have any control over the 17 hrs per day my students are out of school.

I grant that my job as a teacher is more than just transmitting knowledge.  It's part motivational, part inspirational.  But only part.  My students are the arbiters of their own destinies, they decide how much time and effort they will put into class.  I can lead the horses to water, but....

I'll read the linked paper when I have time.  I'm curious what the authors' methodology and evidence are.


Anonymous said...

I have got to disagree with you on this one. I teach at a relatively good school with a great magnet program. The residential school is so/so at best academically. There is a school just 2 miles down the road that is one of the worst in my district; their student population isn't much different than my residential school. However, they have more discipline problems than my school (just hearing based on numerous subs, students and teachers have told me). They also have much lower test scores partially due to no magnet and the culture on the campus.

I have had kids switch schools and they tell me that the culture and atmosphere is very different at my school. My guess is that if you took their students and exchanged them with my residential school that you wouldn't see much change in either school's scores because of the culture of the campus.

Thus, if you shut down that school, the culture of that school is gone and the kids would improve.

Darren said...

*Why* do you think the culture is down the street is the way it is? Do you think the teachers there *want* more discipline problems? And as for your school, don't you think magnet programs attract *parents* that want great things for their kids, that push their kids harder academically?

Anonymous said...

I think partially is that the school always wasn't that great. You were looked down on if you want to that school. It always had a bad reputation. It is like the LA Clippers or Detroit Lions; they almost always sucked and never had that great reputation even with trying and with great players. It is very difficult to change the atmosphere or culture of a school and that would take years and years to do.

Regarding my school, the students are forced to go to the residential school as it is the local school. Those students are just like the kids at the other school. But I think just having the magnet on the campus makes the students have a little more pride going there. Of course there are still discipline problems, but there is not as many. It would be like a player going to the Patriots or Yankees; even if you are just a benchwarmer you have a little more pride playing there.