Broader, Bolder Approach to Education | boldapproach.org
ressure rom ederal education policiessuch as Race to the Top and No Child LetBehind, bolstered by organized advocacy eorts, is making a popular set o market-ori-ented education “reorms” look more like the new status quo than real re-orm. Reormers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased school“choice” through expanded access to charter schools, and the closure o “ail-ing” and underenrolled schools will boost alling student achievement andnarrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps. This reportexamines these assertions by assessing the impacts o these reorms in threelarge urban school districts: Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago.These districts were studied because all enjoy the benet o mayoral control,produce reliable district-level test score data rom the National Assessmento Educational Progress (NAEP), and were led by vocal reormers who im-plemented versions o this agenda.
The reorms deliver ew benets and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away rom policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success:
Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in “reorm” citiesthan in other urban districts.
Reported successes or targeted students evaporated upon closer examina-tion.
Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks o experi-enced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers.
School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districtsmoney.
Charter schools urther disrupted the districts while providing mixed benets,particularly or the highest-needs students.
Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reorms drew attention andresources rom initiatives with greater promise.
The reorms missed a critical actor driving achievement gaps: the inuence o poverty on academic perormance. Real, sustained change requires strategiesthat are more realistic, patient, and multipronged.
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