Major federal education legislation, such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, promote top-down, formulaic “turnaround” strategies and school closures that identify schools as failing based on standardized test scores. This study of Chicago’s experiment with major school reform between 1988 and 1996 shows, however, that a strategy focused on firing teachers or replacing principals cannot turn around schools that face multiple obstacles. And real change takes time.
As Anthony Bryk and his colleagues at the Consortium on Chicago School Research discovered through a combination of rigorous statistical analyses and school case studies, five “essential elements” are necessary for schools to make real progress. These involve collaboration among teachers, parents, and students, are driven by strong principals, and require trust and community engagement. Moreover, schools serving students living in hardest circumstances must leverage a range of resources and supports, including physical and mental health care and meals, in order to move forward. In sum...a Broader Bolder range of approaches to education must be tried and adapted.
Release: Friday, May 20, 2011
Anthony Bryk, President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, former chaired professor of education and business, Stanford University and University of Chicago, creator of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, and author, Organizing Schools for Improvement; Lessons from Chicago.