A video of a Success Academy teacher ripping a student’s math paper has raised a debate about discipline at rigorous, “no excuses” charter schools, writes Elizabeth Green on Chalkbeat.
“No excuses” refers to adults using students’ poverty to explain — and tolerate — poor academic results, Green writes. However, many reformers believed effective schools must adopted the “broken windows” theory that holds tolerating small infractions leads to serious disorder.
At struggling schools, the no-excuses educators argued, learning was regularly undermined by chaos, from physical fights to a refusal to follow even basic directions.
. . . At no-excuses schools, students often walk from one class to another in orderly and perfectly silent single-file lines. Detailed instructions dictate precisely how and when students should pay attention, from nodding to folding their hands and legs just so — poses on display in the Success Academy video. Teachers sometimes ban conversation during breakfast or lunch.
Now, there’s a move to relax rigid rules and make no-excuses schools happier places. Green thinks charter leaders have the desire and ability to improve the model.
But I think this is her most important point:
Looking at test scores, all the highest academic results ever produced for poor students and students of color have come from no-excuses schools. Period.
. . . Success Academy charter schools, which ranked in the top 1 percent of all New York schools in math and the top 3 percent in English.
. . . Other life outcomes are impressive, too. Data collected by the KIPP charter school network in 2013 showed that 44 percent of the schools’ graduates go on to earn a four-year degree, compared to just 8 percent of low-income Americans.
The urban no-excuses charters have significantly improved the reading and math skills — and the odds of high school and college graduation — for students from low-income black and Latino families. No other model has done this consistently, writes Green.
It’s a long piece, but well worth reading in full. Let me know what you think.