Boston: No excuses, high performance

Boston has the highest-performing charter schools in the country, writes MATCH founder Michael Goldstein on Flypaper. Why? Boston has lots of elite colleges, talented people — and the highest proportion of “authentic” adherents to the “No Excuses” model.

CREDO studies have identified top charter cities, measured in “days of learning.”

Two-thirds of Boston charters are “No Excuses” schools, writes Goldstein. Sharing a common philosophy, the schools share ideas and talent.

The Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education (SGSE), embedded at Match Charter Schools, provides teachers to all the No Excuses charters in Boston. SGSE is able to train rookie teachers whose students go on to get unusually high value-added numbers. . . . The message: “Here is what will be expected of you in a No Excuses school. That job is not right for everyone, but if it’s the one you want, we’ll help you practice, practice, practice to become good in that context.”

. . . Will Austin from Uncommon teaches a rookie teacher about effective math instruction; that teacher, in turn, takes a job at KIPP; now Uncommon’s ideas have moved to KIPP; and so forth. When Kimberly Steadman of Brooke teaches literacy to a rookie teacher, even fellow instructors (from other charter schools) perk up and jot down notes.

New York City, New Orleans, D.C., and Los Angeles charter students show large gains on CREDO studies because of No Excuses charters, writes Goldstein. “Boston outperforms these cities is because it has even more.”

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  1. Mike in Texas says:

    I found one Match charter school listed on the Great Schools website:!/test-scores

    Their scores are quite good, HOWEVER, their 6th grade class goes from 84 kids to 56 in the 10 th grade class, which is quite a large attrition rate.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    When a student goes to a “no excuses” charter, at least one person, perhaps the student, perhaps one or both parents, perhaps everyone, has bought into the no excuses idea. And if the student turns out not to do well with the idea (or to have never really bought into it in the first place), the student can leave–perhaps with some pushing by the school.

    But regular public schools get whoever they get, and are largely stuck with them, no matter how little effort the students want to put in. The school could have a no excuses policy anyway but they would then have lots and lots of students repeating grades and/or dropping out and/or being behavior problems.

  3. The assumption in your post is that parents are running towards the charter. That isn’t necessarily true. Given the poor educational quality and chaotic atmosphere of some district schools it might just as easily be a case of anything but the district school.

    Not that I’m dismissing the value of high expectations. We are, to a significant extent, creatures of our environment so when the environment says education doesn’t matter who are the tykes to disagree?