How to Turn a School System Around

A McKinsey report offers trends used by school systems that are steadily showing improvement.

A report released last week by the management consulting firm McKinsey sheds some insight on how school systems that are seeing signs of or consistent improvement are getting the job done. Rather than recommending—as one might hear when international assessments such as this week's PISA scores were released—to follow the lead of, say, Finland or Singapore, the report instead offers a continuum where a school system would need to locate itself and then work upward from that point.

According to a piece in Education Week, the study, titled "How the World's Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better," looked at close to 600 reforms carried out in 20 school systems of everything from regional charter networks to entire countries:

The researchers found that interventions fell in six different areas: revising curriculum and standards; establishing an appropriate reward and compensation structure for educators; building educators’ technical skills; assessing students; establishing data systems; and implementing laws and policies supporting the interventions. But the way those interventions manifested themselves at each performance stage differed.


An interesting note from the Ed Week piece is that initially low-performing systems that saw improvement relied on standardized test-heavy assessment of students and rigorous evaluations of faculty. When schools were in better situations, testing relaxed and teacher evaluation turned to collaboration.

Obviously, there's a lot of discussion about the report, which was released along with a webcast, but it occurs to me that the message of the report is that a one-size-fits-all No Child Left Behind-type bill isn't going to create massive improvement in the United States. Rather, whereas adopting Common Core Standards and the like can't hurt, city and local school districts will need to tailor options, like merit pay and teacher assessment, to suit their own needs.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user Vincent J. Brown


We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

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via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

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Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

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Facebook: kktv11news

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