Rethinking small schools

Creating small schools isn’t the first step to creating better schools, the Gates Foundation has concluded. From the Seattle Times:

The changes were often so divisive — and the academic results so mixed — that the Gates Foundation has stopped always pushing small as a first step in improving big high schools. Instead, it’s now also working directly on instruction, giving grants to improve math and science instruction, for example.

Most of the dozen-and-a-half Washington schools with so-called “conversion” grants have ended up only as hybrids — a mix of small-school elements added to big-school features.

Many good schools are small, but making schools small doesn’t make them good.

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  1. Kudos to the Gates foundation for measuring results of their choices, and changing their focus when the evidence indicated their ideas had not worked. Would that education schools did the same.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Small schools with an infinite bankroll is what he meant.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    Small schools can work if they are not very diverse. One of the benefits of many private schools is that their students all come the same part of the socio-economic spectrum. Trying to have small schools inside a large school just meant that groups were divided down further than normal and many students were even more isolated.

    If you had physically small schools, the students you have to be from the same demographics so that there would be a critical mass of some interest. The best type of smaller schools are science intensive, performing arts, or military academies.

  4. mike from oregon says:

    Superdestroyer –
    I totally disagree, we have several Catholic grade schools and high schools in my area that have everyone from those on welfare (the school gives them full scholarships) to the elite. The MAIN reason the schools work (and usually they are WAY ahead of the public schools) is because EVERYONE is held to the same expectations and standards. The private schools don’t buy into the ‘diversity’ for the sake of diversity nonsense. Come here and regardless of who you are (rich or poor) you will be expected to live up to a certain level of behavior, responsibility and academics. THAT is what 90%+ of the public schools are missing.

    While I applaud the Gates foundation for looking at the ‘results’ of what and where the money is spent; the only real change will come when parents are allowed to choose a school rather than being forced to send the kids to school “X” by the public school power structure. I make a huge (trust me, financially huge) sacrifice to send my daughter to a private school, I realize that many people can’t (heck, many people wouldn’t live in the conditions I live in to make this happen for my child). When schools become charter schools and/or vouchers are finally made available then and only then will the freedom of choice be given to parents and society as a whole.

    The public educational system sinks, it has for years and only continues to to downhill.