Issue Brief: Leveraging National School Models to Deliver Results at ScaleSeptember 30, 2012
Copyright© 2012 by Landmark Consulting Group, Inc. All rights reserved. 1 |Page
Need for Scalable Solutions in Education
Over the past decade, policy makers, educators, business and civic leaders, and parents have been
looking for the “magic” that will transform the country’s public school system. The stream of reform
efforts have included the implementation of small learning communities, small schools, literacyprograms, credit recovery, smaller class sizes, longer school days, use of data to inform instruction,
teacher evaluation…and the list goes on and on.
Although some of these approaches produced incremental gains in student achievement early on, manyof the gains flattened out or were lost over time and none produced the double digit growth that ourcountry needs in student achievement. Tacking on a program here or there to a 20
century schooldesign in the hopes that it will transform the school into a 21
century model represents flawedthinking. We are still losing as many kids today to academic failure, disengagement and poverty as wewere a decade ago (Economic Policy Institute 2006).
We cannot afford ano
ther decade of hoping that “one offs” like a good teacher or a promising practice
or even a single school success will remedy the low student achievement and completion ratesproduced by our education system.
It is vital for our country to cut the dropout rate in half. To do so,the bottom 5% or about 5,000 schools need to be transformed and/or replaced.If the average size of these schools is 1,500 students and the average size of most high performingschools is less than 500 students, then 15,000 small school equivalents will need to be created. Theschools that need transformation and/or replacement have extremely high dropout rates of 30-50%. If high performing schools were to fix the dropout rate in the bottom 5% of schools, 20,000-30,000 smallschool equivalents would need to be created (Landmark Consulting Group, July 2011).More effective options are needed now. A recent survey by the National Alliance for Public Charter
Schools states that “more c
hildren than ever before are waitlisted to attend public charterschools.
Losers in the lottery system, more than 600,000 students are waitlisted across the nation…The
survey showed a 67 percent growth in waiting lists since the 2008-09 school year--which outpaced theincrease of 650,000 additional seats added in charter schools during the same period. More than 60percent of charter schools reported having children on a waitlist, with longer-running charter schoolsaveraging a 239-student waitlist. Twelve charter schools reported lists of more than 2,000 students.These results demonstrate the national cry for real educational options. Parents want school choiceoutside of an arbitrarily-
assigned (and often underperforming) public school.”
(School Choice Now!,June 14, 2012)Charters schools cannot be the only answer. Our country needs to build a national capacity (includingcharters) at scale to transform at least a third of our schools.
We are out of time to base our nationalstrategy on only piloting new best-practice examples whose results will not truly be known for years.We need to shift our focus to the innovation of replication and scaling what works and deliversresults