Chicago students who transferred from low-performing schools are doing much better in their new schools, reports the Sun-Times.
Kids who won highly prized transfers out of failing Chicago public schools averaged much better reading and math gains during the first year in their new schools –just as drafters of the federal No Child Left Behind Law envisioned, an exclusive analysis indicates.
And, contrary to some predictions, moving low-scoring kids to better-performing schools didn’t seem to slow the progress of students in those higher-achieving schools.
Even kids “left behind” in struggling schools generally posted better gains in state tests once their peers transferred elsewhere.
The transfer students had been falling behind the national average, and even their classmates’ progress, when they attended low-performing schools. In their new schools, they improved at a much faster rate, beating the national average.
In their sending schools, transfer kids posted 24 percent less than the expected gain in reading, and 17 percent less than the expected gain in math. But in their new schools, transfer kids produced 8 percent more gains than the average student — in reading and math.
It’s possible that these transfer students have more education-savvy parents than others: It’s hard to navigate the transfer process and only the strong survive. But those parents weren’t giving the kids an advantage in their old schools.
Students praise the sense of purpose and the discipline in their new schools.
Parents who landed in three of dozens of receiving schools — Dixon, Galileo Scholastic Academy and Healy Elementary — noticed the difference right away: Teachers sent home more challenging homework, communicated with them regularly through assignment notebooks, called them immediately with good news or bad.
In other words, teachers nipped problems in the bud. Suddenly, there was no mouthing off. Calls or notes came home the minute homework was missing.
Quiana Wilcoxon, 11, said she visited three possible new schools and picked Healy during its open house for potential transfer kids.
“I could just tell, from the assistant principal talking about the school, that I wanted to go there,” said Quiana, whose Healy test scores last year showed strong math gains. “She said if somebody did something wrong, they would be sent to the principal’s office immediately — five seconds later.”
Transfer student Rodney Gandy, now a fourth-grader at Galileo, said his new teacher called home immediately when he repeatedly drummed on his desk during class. At Galileo, Rodney said, teachers “will be right on your behind if you get into trouble. They will be right on you — like that.” And, he said, “That’s good.”
Market forces work, says Orrin Judd.