If it works, keep doing it

New York City wasted millions of dollars on bonuses for students and teachers with no effect on performance, writes Sol Stern in a New York Daily News op-ed.  Now a Core Knowledge reading program is succeeding in 10 Bronx and Queens elementary schools by teaching phonics and background knowledge to disadvantaged students. But there’s no guarantee the funding will be continued.

As chancellor of New York City schools, Joel Klein set up a comparison between the Core Knowledge pilot schools and similar schools using “balanced literacy.”

After the first year, Klein announced the early results: On a battery of reading tests, the kindergartners in the Core Knowledge program had achieved gains five times greater than those of students in the control group. The second-year study showed that the Core Knowledge kids made reading gains twice as great as those of students in the control group.

The third-year results will be released in the fall. If the gains continue, logic says the program should be extended. But logic doesn’t always prevail.

On the other hand, New York City’s Education Department has ended a three-year bonus program for teachers and administrators because a RAND study found it had no effect on students’ or schools’ performance.

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