Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Doing more of what we're already doing?

A new study out by Columbia University is draws a conclusion that Worcester ought to be looking closely at as we "Race to the Top": it seems that magnet school programs and other programs that mix students with others out of their neighborhoods have a greater rate of success than those that create charter and other programs in their neighborhoods. EdWeek's summary:

After examining the nation's eight remaining desegregation programs that enable disadvantaged students to cross school district boundary lines to attend more-affluent, suburban public schools, the researchers conclude that the programs are "far more successful than recent choice and accountability policies at closing the achievement gap and offering meaningful school choices."

It's a fascinating conclusion that runs counter to most of the methods and strategies at work in public education right now to close the achievement gap. The authors acknowledge that the programs--in Boston, East Palo Alto, Calif., Hartford, Conn., Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Rochester, N.Y., and St. Louis--are "out of sync" with current practice. Except for the program in Minneapolis, all have been in place for at least two decades, and all the programs stem from court rulings and legislation meant to create equitable educational opportunities for disadvantaged students.

Worcester's magnets were originally constructed as a desegregation effort; they don't have the scope of Boston's METCO program, but they do a similar thing.

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