Friday, November 7, 2008

Bringing Ed Reform to Scale

Yet another data point on the selectivity model for improving education. By selecting teachers from top universities, charter schools in Boston are getting better results for their students. This is pointed out in an editorial over at Gadfly today by Steven Wilson from Ascend Charter schools.

There are 7 charter schools that are realizing significantly higher student learning gains on the state’s MCAS tests. Over 50% of the teachers in those schools are from elite universities compared to 19% at public schools.

But then Steven does something that most education reformers refuse to think about. Can you bring that model to scale. Can we slowly replace all 2.6 million teachers with teacher from elite schools (note I used a little thing called math to pull out the 19% already from elite schools). He thinks not.

From his editorial:“Each year, about 142,000 students graduate from highly selective postsecondary institutions (Barron's top two ranks). Even if one in every ten of their graduates entered teaching for two years (the average tenure at many no-excuses schools) before moving onto other careers, they would provide for only six percent of the 438,914 teachers currently working in the 66 member districts of the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS). Simply put, we might have enough of these teachers to staff a few hundred more No Excuses schools, but not a few thousand more, and certainly not enough to reach every disadvantaged child in America.”

This is the same problem with KIPP and TFA which are highly touted as the solution for education woes. While they are great programs we need to simultaneously invest in programs like ABCTE that can be brought to scale efficiently and effectively.

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