....taken one step further might be, “If it works well, scale it up.” Not a bad idea for Governor Patrick to consider as his authority over public schools expands this fall.
In January of this year, a Harvard/MIT study for the Boston Foundation explored the success of “readiness schools”– a blend of union teachers and curriculum autonomy – and charter schools. The research found, that while “readiness schools” made some academic gains, there was little difference between this program and gains in traditional public schools.
The study also concluded that “the effect of a single year spent in a charter school was equivalent to half of the black-white achievement gap. Performance in English Language Arts also significantly increased for charter middle school students, though less dramatically. Charter students also showed stronger performance scores in high school, in English Language Arts, math, writing topic development, and writing composition.”
Now that Governor Patrick will seek legislative approval to take over 30 of the state’s worst schools and implement the readiness school model, it’s worth asking: why water down these charters and implement a less effective approach?
Charters are not the panacea, and simply lifting the caps won’t better serve Massachusetts students. But why not do what works?
Scaling up these highly effective schools and providing incentive to bring back the founders (they can now be found in New York, where the education climate is much more receptive to innovative school practices), is an alternative to Governor Patrick’s readiness schools, and a step towards the transformation needed to ensure every child’s access to an excellent education.
Investing in incremental change will result in incremental progress. Investing in a highly effective charter school with demonstrated strong performance will close the achievement gap.