In Chicago, 400 elementary schools have a reading specialist to help teachers improve instruction. Low-performing schools must hire two. How’s it working? Writing in Catalyst, Alex Russo of This Week in Education says fewer than half the schools are showing progress faster than the district average.
All told, district officials argue the program is worth its $52 million pricetag, citing test score improvements at 65 percent of the schools participating last year, 78 percent of those on probation.
However, a Catalyst analysis of test scores found only 45 of the 109 schools that have participated in the reading initiative since it began posted gains higher than the districtwide average, and scores at another 41 schools declined.
To fill all the slots created by the program, “the district had to water down the credentials required for the job,” an audit found. Some specialists hired aren’t so special. In addition, the program has gone through three directors in three years.