What Next? Educational Innovation and Philadelphia’s School of the Future (Harvard Education Press), edited by Mary Cullinane and Frederick M. Hess, describes the first three years of a school designed — with help from Microsoft — to revolutionize teaching and learning. The School of the Future tried to operate within the school district’s union work rules and the district’s normal budget for high schools. It hasn’t worked.
In its first years, the School of the Future has struggled with leadership turnover, hiring problems, and changing directives from the school district about whether the school can do things differently.
After several years of turmoil, a new principal kicked out 10 percent of students. But the school has trouble recruiting teachers and has filled only two-thirds of its seats. Test scores are low, especially in math and science.
In High School 2.0 in the spring 2010 issue of Education Next, reporter Dale Mezzacappa, a What’s Next? contributor, writes about the school’s struggles.
The students, almost all African American, more than 80 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, came with skill levels all over the map; a majority read at a 5th-grade level or below. Used to worksheets, paper-and-pencil tests, and being asked to regurgitate information, many weren’t prepared to take control of their own learning. Some thrived on the project-based, interdisciplinary, and technology-rich model, and were finally able to connect to the purpose of school; others simply found it bewildering.
The technology often didn’t work. When it did, it often proved a distraction, one teacher said:
Students would be instant messaging and checking emails during class. “When you’re exhausted because you’ve been telling kids to stop playing Halo all day, you’re not actually teaching them literature or skills or the content that they need to drive their own learning.”
In this podcast, Mezzacappa talks about what reformers can learn from the School of the Future’s problems.
Via Education Next Blog.