[What do you do with failing schools? Especially at Primary Level?] Education reform: Seven questions for Diane Ravitch | The Economist
The ‘No Child Left Behind’ (or NCLB) Act has not really permeated educational policy discussions here in Ireland (see this wiki entry for a description). This is a pity as it has generated a huge evidence base on what might be effective and ineffective means of intervening in educational systems to improve standards. This interview is a must-read: it is with a proponent of NCLB, who has changed her mind, because the evidence indicates the new policy has not been working. [She comments, inter alia, that schools and states lower standards to meet targets.]
There is no evidence that closing schools, firing principals and teachers will magically produce better schools. There is no evidence that there are 5,000 outstanding principals waiting to be called to lead these schools, or that hundreds of thousands of “great” teachers will leave their jobs to teach in stigmatised schools. This is the same punitive approach embedded in NCLB. It rests on a fundamental belief that schools need incentives and sanctions, a whiplash to improve. It is based on test scores, and it will do nothing to lift education in those schools or in any other schools.
Creating an all-pervasive culture of educational excellence throughout an education system turns out to be harder than anyone would have thought. Surprising, that. But great to see someone change their mind when the evidence mandates it.