Monday, September 03, 2007

As Goes New York So Goes Washington 

New York City's school chancellor Joel Klein is starting his sixth year. As Jennifer Medina and David Herszenhorn report in the New York Times improvements in that city have been slow:

Certainly there have been improvements. The dozens of new small high schools that have been created in the last five years posted an average graduation rate of 73 percent, far better than the city’s overall rate, which is on the upswing. Still, roughly half of the high school students in the city do not graduate in four years.

State standardized test results are promising. This year in math, every grade tested showed significant gains in the proportion of students performing at grade level or above. But reading results were not as impressive, mostly because so many students have limited English. The proportion of all New York City students meeting the reading standards remained essentially flat, at 50.8 percent.
And now in an effort to bring real change to the system, Mr. Klein is following my advice and making each school independent:

In the second upheaval since Mr. Bloomberg took control of the schools in 2002 and created a tightly centralized system, this month the administration is cutting principals loose to run their schools like independent franchises. The administration believes that principals are the best equipped to make decisions for their schools, and can best improve efficiency. Their job performance will be measured by a vast new storehouse of data on student achievement used to create a report card on each school — and a record on each principal.
The chancellor says that it will take him a generation to really fix what is wrong with NYC public schools. He should have given them freedom from a central administration long ago.

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