Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gates Sees the Light on Small Schools Impact

Leonie Haimson reported on the nyc education news listserve:

Elizabeth Green is in Seattle, live-blogging from a Gates Foundation event where they are announcing a major change from their previous emphasis on small school, and will now turn their focus on.... what actually happens in the classroom.

Surprise! it took hundreds of millions of dollars and how many years before they figured out that this is what's most important? Of course, I doubt they will pay much attention to class size, since they told all the researchers who were doing independent evaluations of their small schools not to look at class size as a possible determinant of success -- even though nearly all the teachers and students they interviewed said that this was the most important factor to them.

Anyway, according to Elizabeth,

Bill Gates suggested that the New York City small schools have been an exception to the overall disappointing results of small school projects, noting that in 2006 the schools’ graduation rates at small schools were 18 percentage points higher than the citywide rate. Then he thanked Chancellor Joel Klein, who was in the audience, and Mayor Bloomberg, who was not, for working with the Gates Foundation.

But just a few minutes later, Gates pointed out one major shortcoming of the New York City small schools: Students were just as unprepared for college as were students citywide. Less than 40% of graduates, he said, met the City University of New York’s standards for college readiness, giving them no appreciable advantage over graduates citywide. (I’m looking into what he’s referring to; my guess is that his evidence is the number of students who graduated with a full Regents diploma, versus the easier-to-attain local diploma.)
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  1. Of course the small school graduation rate is higher. Remember, for the first couple of years the small schools did not have to take special education and ELA students as well as "the not ready for promotion" 8th graders. that other schools were forced to take.


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