‘No Excuses:’ Can charter principles work in traditional schools?
A very important study by Roland Fryer, which provides strong evidence that the key pillars of "No Excuses" charter schools can be applied to regular public schools and drive success. This underscores what I've been shouting from the rooftops for years: we know the broad outlines of what works and what needs to happen – this isn't the main obstacle. Instead, it's the resistance to change from The Blob, especially the unions, who like things just the way they are (kids be damned)…
Fryer looked at "No Excuses" charter schools, places like the Harlem Promise Academy and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools, to get a sense of how they had made such big education gains in low-income communities. He boiled it down to five "best practices," including longer school days, better teachers and data-driven education, that emphasized education gains.
Fryer went into nine of the lowest performing, public middle and high schools in Houston during the last school year, and implemented those five principles. The changes didn't just nibble around the edges: Fryer did things like add 10 days to the school year and replace 100 educators, including all of his test school's principals and more than half the teachers.
Across the board, students' math and reading scores went up compared to other Houston schools where these changes weren't implemented. "These results provide the first proof point that charter school practices can be used systematically in previously unsuccessful traditional public schools to significantly increase student achievement," Fryer writes.