Oregon’s experiment with small high schools, which started four years ago, has produced disappointing results.
Armed with $25 million from billionaire Bill Gates and other education reformers, backers of small schools heralded the academies as the best way to curb high dropout rates, forge connections to keep teenagers on track and prepare every graduate for college.
None of that has happened. Large high schools were cut up into smaller schools that produced similar test scores and dropout rates.
Organizers now say they focused too much on school structure and not enough on improving teaching. In addition, hiring multiple principals at what used to be a single high school proved to be expensive.
As a result, many small high schools are run by lower-paid, less-experienced administrators. That has led to high turnover, and at some schools, confusion among teachers and students about who is in charge.
The new schools had no performance targets; nobody was quite sure what it meant for all students to be “college ready.”