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High-Achieving D.C. Schools Face Difficult Second Act

Congratulations, Mr. or Ms. Principal, the students in your school has just shown dramatic improvement in reading and math proficiency. You just...


Congratulations, Mr. or Ms. Principal, the students in your school has just shown dramatic improvement in reading and math proficiency. You just earned your administration and support staff a $3,600 per person bonus! How are you going to keep up the good work?That's the question a Washington Post article asked yesterday, in a piece detailing the plight of seven Washington, D.C.-area schools that posted proficiency rates that blasted past the 20 percent improvement mark in the 2007/2008 school year. For 2008/2009, however, only one of those schools kept their proficiency graph pointing upward.Test scores are the sacred measure of effectiveness in the D.C. system, which has undergone wholesale changes over the past few years at the hands of data-driven Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty. According to the piece, anything from an ineffective new administrator or teacher, to policies handed down from the District, to simple statistics can result in once promising schools handing back some of their hard fought gains.While Rhee notes that she'll be looking at smaller bumps that follow big ones when she determines bonus payouts for schools, WaPo chronicles some of the tactics principals are using to keep improving. They are scrupulously following students and placing them in one of three tracks based on performance of an interim standardized test, offering different sorts of instruction on Saturday mornings for each tier. Another idea involves inviting nonprofit consultants to come in and administer tests on a regular basis to students.Now if that isn't falling all over one's self to teach to the test, I don't know what is.Photo by Simona Monatti via DCPS
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