SIG: Big bucks, small gains

Most low-performing schools in the School Improvement Grant program are showing signs of progress, reports the U.S. Education Department. But, big bucks have produced small gains. It’s an open question “whether an eye-popping infusion of federal cash—$3 billion in stimulus funding alone—and some serious federal strings had a dramatic impact on the nation’s lowest-performing schools,” reports Education Week.

While more than two-thirds of schools in the first cohort (which started in 2010-11) saw gains in reading and math after two years in the program, another third of the schools actually declined, despite the major federal investment, which included grants of up to $500,000 a year. And schools that entered the program in its second year (the 2011-12 school year) didn’t post gains in math and reading as impressive as those the  first cohort saw in their first year.

Even U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the progress “incremental.”

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  1. We are not going to see much progress until we come to the realization that the biggest problems in education today are not the schools and teachers…it is the kids and parents.

    • Hmm, and after we come to that realization, what then? Got some method of improving the stock of parents and kids to the point that the biggest problem in education will be solved?

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        If “we” do come to that realization, and decide that we can’t “fix” the kids and parents, I see two possibilities, depending on whether you’re a glass half empty or a glass half full person:

        1. We are condemned to failure.

        2. Academics for everyone was an unrealistic goal. We should find a goal that will be useful and that we can actually achieve.

        • I’ve got a better idea.

          A wholesale rejection of the attempt to divert the discussion to the poor quality of the parents and kids from the necessarily indifferent quality of the professionals.

          That’ll refocus the discussion on *why* good teachers are treated with exactly the same level of unimportance as bad teachers, why good ideas are allowed to whither on the vine and bad ideas receive extravagant praise and endless promotion, why bureaucratic convenience trumps educational considerations and numerous other questions which result in distinctly uncomfortable conversations for those who can’t imagine any other situation but the extant public education system.

      • Bring back consequences.