In Washington, DC, Catholic K-8 schools are celebrating a 10-year campaign to boost achievement by their students. Sixty percent of students in the consortium schools come from low-income families and nearly all are minorities. By the mid-’90s, test scores were well below the national average and half the teachers quit each year. That’s changed, reports Jay Mathews of the Washington Post.
New administrators armed with research on what worked in urban education put many schools under the same office. They told teachers that they would be judged on how much their students improved, required them to use common math and reading curricula and adopted learning standards that had worked well in Indiana, 500 miles away.
Consortium schools use Saxon math, the phonics-first Open Court reading program and Terra Nova tests. Teachers analyze testing data to improve their teaching and identify which students need more help in specific areas.
The schools spend about $8,000 per student, far less than the district’s public schools. Tuition is $4,500, but many families pay less. Nearly a third use federally funded vouchers to pay for tuition.
Two schools are at risk of closing for financial reasons.