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Troy Patterson

This Week In Education: Thompson: How Houston's Test and Punish Policies Fail - 0 views

  • I often recall Houston's Apollo 20 experiment, designed to bring "No Excuses" charter school methods to neighborhood schools. Its output-driven, reward and punish policies failed.  It was incredibly expensive, costing $52 million and it didn't increase reading scores. Intensive math tutoring produced test score gains in that subject. The only real success was due to the old-fashioned, win-win, input-driven method of hiring more counselors.
  • Michels finds no evidence that Grier's test-driven accountability has benefitted students, but he describes the great success of constructive programs that build on kids' strengths and provide them more opportunities.
  • With the help of local philanthropies, however, Houston has introduced a wide range of humane, holistic, and effective programs. Michels starts with Las Americas Newcomer School, which is "on paper a failing school." It offers group therapy and social workers who help immigrants "navigate bureaucratic barriers—like proof of residency or vaccination records." He then describes outstanding early education programs that are ready to be scaled up, such as  the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood, and Project Grad which has provided counseling and helped more than 7,600 students go to college.
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  • Children who attended the Neighborhood Centers' Head Start program produce higher test scores - as high as 94% proficient in 3rd grade reading.
  • It agreed with the program's chief advocate, Roland Fryer, that the math tutoring showed results but doubted that the score increases were sustainable."
  • but who says, “At the end of the day, you need to show up on time, you need to have the right mindset for work and you probably need to read, write and understand science." In other words, test scores might be important, but it is the immeasurable social and emotional factors that really matter.
  • What if we shifted the focus from the weaknesses of students and teachers to a commitment to building on the positive?
  • Grier's test and punish policies have already failed and been downsized. Of course, I would like to hear an open acknowledgement that test-driven reform was a dead end. But, mostly likely, systems will just let data-driven accountability quietly shrivel and die. Then, we can commit to the types of  Win Win policies that have a real chance of helping poor children of color.
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