Letter to the Editor
In her critique of “The School Improvement Grant Roll Out in America’s Great City Schools”, Daniela Fairchild badly mangles our findings, and then compounds the error by drawing a conclusion that cannot be supported by any information in the report.
Ms. Fairchild says that one learns from the report “that districts seem to be less aggressive with their turnaround efforts post ARRA.” She bases this claim on the assertion that the number of transformation schools, the most flexible of the reform models, jumped from 24 percent to 74 percent, pre- to post ARRA. Conversely, she indicates that the number of schools undergoing tougher reforms plummeted. But the route she took to arrive at a “pre-ARRA” figure of 24 percent was to take the total number of schools that were implementing some sort of turnaround strategy in the five years prior to ARRA, add the number of schools that were closed for academic reasons during this time, subtract the number of these schools that subsequently reopened, and then take the total number of schools that had only removed the principal and divide it by this number.
Unfortunately, all of this arithmetic does not result in a valid estimate of the number of schools pursuing the transformation model prior to ARRA. In terms of pre-ARRA turnaround efforts, we only asked narrowly about the replacement of principals in order to gauge districts’ perspectives on how well this strategy worked in the past--NOT to report the number of districts who were pursuing this model wholesale prior to ARRA.
Meanwhile, the 74 percent is a more straightforward case of misreading the data: The report clearly states that 74 percent of schools nationwide use the transformation model while only 54 percent of the Great City schools use this model. So, neither of these numbers—24 or 74—are accurate and comparing them makes even less sense. In fact, there are no before and after data in this survey that would allow one to reasonably determine any increase or decrease in the use of the transformation model--or any of the SIG models. To conclude from this tortured reading of the report that urban schools are more interested in pocketing the money than in pursuing real reform is not only snarky and unfounded but a disservice to your readers.
Council of the Great City Schools
Category: Additional Topics
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