Tuesday, April 16, 2013

BBA study shows market-driven reform is a bust

"Most of the students who would have attended the closed (NYC) high schools were not admitted to the smaller schools but went to other large comprehensive high schools, "which consequently became academically overwhelmed, making them additional targets for closure.'" -- Broader, Bolder Study
I got my copy of the BBA study yesterday, hot off the press. It won't be available on-line until April 18.

"You need to read this," NYU prof, Pedro Noguera, a speaker at the Reframing Reform Conference, said, as he handed me a copy of, "Market-oriented education reforms' rhetoric trumps reality."  So I did. Anything about trumping reality, especially early on a Monday morning, will catch my attention. Pedro was right. It was worth the read.

For those of you who aren't avid readers of ed research, here's the gist of it. The corporate-style reforms which have become the new status quo in urban districts under mayoral control like Chicago, New York, and D.C. "have delivered few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise..."

Among the key findings:

  • Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more in "reform" cities than in other urban districts.
  • Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination.
  • Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers. 
  • School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money.
  • Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students. 
  • Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise.
  • The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. 
For those of you who follow this blog, none of this will come as a surprise. The findings are pretty much in sync and reaffirm reports from our CReATE group in Chicago, and The National Education Policy Center (NEPC). But nevertheless, this BBA report is significant in its scope, currency, and because of the access the group has to policy makers. After all, Arne Duncan himself, was one of the signers of BBA's founding statement. 

Of course, it's questionable what effect, if any, the mounds of education research have when weighted against the policy agendas and big money of the corporate reformers and power philanthropists. But we have to believe that the truth will set us free. Right?

Valerie Strauss at the Answer Sheet has more on the BBA study in today's Washington Post. 

1 comment:

  1. In a perfect world, all of those perpetrating this destruction would have the decency, the wisdom and the ethic to do what I call "a Diane Ravitch," admit that their "reforms" have done way more harm than good, and would then follow her lead to repair, to restore and to make better American public education. Otherwise--as I used to tell people
    in the world that was so far apart from the one I taught in (and, actually, I was quoting a principal who worked in another state...too bad I don't remember his name), "One day, my kids are going to meet your kids..." the implication being that worlds will collide, and crimes will not be solely restricted to the criminals' neighborhoods.
    It has, in fact, happened already, but--if these civil rights violations
    continue to happen in the name of "a better education"--you ain't seen nothin' yet.


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