Closing schools is not a school improvement strategy
New York City (Vocus) July 14, 2010
The Middle College National Consortium, a leader in the movement to establish and sustain high school/college dual enrollment, hosted its annual Summer Institute at the Jersey City Hyatt earlier this month. Over two hundred attendees from thirty one small high schools across the country attended the event.
Renowned educator Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, electrified the audience with her stinging rebuke of education reform as practiced today. She stated that “Closing schools is not a school improvement strategy” and noted that incentives and sanctions lead to cheating and gaming the system, not school improvement. She backed up her comments by pointing out that students made smaller gains on the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) tests in the No Child Left Behind era than in the preceding era. Ms. Ravitch’s prescription for curing ailing schools is to focus on what is going on in the classroom. She advocates for a coherent curriculum without the attached high stakes tests, long term planning, a cadre of experienced teachers and principals, and inspection teams tailored to the needs of individual schools.
Dr. David Conley, author of College and Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed Beyond High School and founder and director of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC), spoke to the issue of College and Career Readiness for all students. Noting that as the demands of society continue to change and change rapidly, a fundamentally different world awaits our students. Dr. Conley articulated a vision of what college and career preparation looks like in the classroom. He described how college and career readiness is multi-faceted and involves content knowledge and cognitive strategies, academic behaviors, and contextual skills and awareness.
In line with the conference’s theme of “College Readiness” attendees participated in four days of professional workshops facilitated primarily by master teachers from attending schools. The major areas of focus were:
*Data--How can staff use data to better prepare students for college work?
*Professional Development--What strategies and techniques can teachers utilize to help students succeed in college?
*Curriculum Development--How can we develop curriculum that supports college readiness?
*High School/College Partnership--How can high schools and their college partners collaborate to enhance dual enrollment?
*Student Support--What supports are necessary for students to succeed in college courses?
Dr. Cecilia Cunningham, founder and Director of the Middle College National Consortium stated that, “Diane Ravitch and David Conley are brilliant educators. They forced people to stretch their minds and move out of their comfort zones. This laid the foundation for the fine work that ensued in the professional workshops and team meetings. It is the hard work done by the attending teachers, administrators and college personnel that is a major factor in the success of our students. An amazing 91% of Early College students graduate with 30 college credits or more.”
The Middle College National Consortium, headquartered in New York City, is a leader in the movement to establish and sustain high school/college dual enrollment as a viable and necessary educational model. Middle College National Consortium’s mission is to develop small schools in which high school students, especially those who have been previously underserved by their former schools, can earn both a high school diploma and either an Associate’s Degree or transferable college credits upon graduation.
To learn more about the Middle College National Consortium, visit us at (http://www.mcnc.us/) for a comprehensive overview of the history, design principles, current work and achievements.
Middle College National Consortium
# # #