Saturday, April 24, 2010

"we try that and we see if that works"

GIST: I think that for far too long we have just tinkered around the edges of our schools that have struggled. Central Falls High School is an example of a school like that. For over eight years, [it] has been on various lists of needing to improve. There are wonderful people in that school, there are excellent teachers in the school. They’ve had strong leadership. They’ve tried different models for reform. But we tend to do one thing, and then we wait and see if that works. And when it doesn’t or maybe it’s incremental, we say, OK, let’s try some new professional development for the teachers. And then we try that and we see if that works, and a few more years go by, and then we say, obviously we need a new principal because that one’s not doing the job. So we bring in new leadership, and we try that. We bring in new materials. We try that.
We just try one thing after another instead of recognizing that it’s not just one thing, it’s actually the combination of all of those things and the way they fit together. When you look at high-performing schools, it isn’t just one thing that they’re doing. It’s a combination of many things, and at the center of all that are high expectations for students. And so part of the work is to change the culture in the school to one where everyone expects that students will achieve and raises the bar for performance.
Read the full article including an interview with Deborah Gist, the RI Commissioner of Education, who has been the subject of much headlines on the Central Falls High School situation. Very interesting reading:

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