Friday, October 25, 2013
Why The Bloomberg Small Schools Are Really A Failure.
Two very prestigious schools Duke and MIT published a study that showed that 151 Bloomberg small schools were academically better than the large schools that they competed with. The study showed that the Bloomberg small schools graduated 9% more students than the large schools and that 7% more attended college. However, there is a back story to these slight academic improvements at the Bloomberg small schools. The report failed to present the whole picture and assumed the Bloomberg small schools and the large schools had the same "cohort relationship". The truth is there are significant differences between the Bloomberg small schools and the large schools.
Let's look at what these differences are:
High Needs Students: the Bloomberg small schools have a history of excluding "high needs students". In fact, for years it was DOE policy to exempt the "high needs students" such as English Language Learners, Special Education, and behaviorally challenged students to the Bloomberg small schools and dumping them into the large high schools. By excluding these "high needs students" the schools increase the graduation and college attending percentage rates.
Over The Counter Students: Few, if any "over the counter students" are placed in the Bloomberg small schools. These "over the counter students" are composed many of recent immigrants, students released from incarceration or suspension centers, and students not selected by any schools either due to parent indifference or attendance issues. These students historically has not fared well in school and are placed in the large high schools.
Administrative Pressure: The Bloomberg small schools have a majority of inexperienced and young teachers who seek tenure and are unlikely to fail students for fear of not receiving tenure or being discontinued. By contrast the large schools have tenured and experienced teachers and are more likely to give their students the deserved grade.
Student Screening: While the report claimed that the schools were selected that did not have a "screening policy", it failed to take into account the unofficial selection process that these "Bloomberg small schools that discourage parents of students who need additional services by claiming they don't have the resources such as a one-to-one paraprofessional and self-contained classes.
Smaller class sizes: Most, if not all the classes in the Bloomberg small schools have class sizes that are significantly lower than the large schools and lower class sizes are related to a better academic learning environment in the classroom.
Funding: The Bloomberg small schools are fully funded with some schools getting more than their fair share while the large schools are only getting 80-90% of the funds they need.
The real question is why didn't the Bloomberg small schools didn't do better when compared to the large high schools given their uneven playing field created by the DOE since the DOE provided the Bloomberg small schools with so many advantages? The answer probably lies with the quality of administration , the lack of an experienced teaching staff, and inflexible student schedules and lack of extracurricular activities I wrote about this Here. It's important that people read the Annenberg study to realize how the Bloomberg Administration "stacked the deck" against the large high schools.