Urban education’s troubling cycle of disappointment | IN 60 SECONDS


Every few years, a school district is
celebrated for some eye-catching numbers. It is held up as a national model… and
then, later, the numbers are unmasked as deceptive. In the early ’80s,
Atlanta’s test scores showed remarkable gains. The district’s secret sauce? Easier tests. In the ’90s, Houston’s test gains
were labeled a “Texas miracle.” A 2000 RAND study found these
scores were “misleading” and “inflated.” In the mid-2000s, Chicago was hailed
as a model for “fixing America’s schools.” It turns out that the impressive passage
rates were fueled by lowered standards. By then, Atlanta was being
celebrated again, and then district leaders went to jail for cooking test scores.
I could list many more. The big problem? Everybody leaps to imitate the
miracle of the moment, which distracts from the hard work of
actually improving schools. Be wary of “models” which are a mélange of
quick fixes and charismatic leadership. So, the next time you’re told that
district X has it all figured out, look twice. Do you think test scores are a
reliable measure of how well school districts are doing? Let us know in our
poll. Also, let us know what other topics you’d like our scholars to cover in 60
seconds and be sure to LIKE and subscribe for more research and videos from AEI.

6 thoughts on “Urban education’s troubling cycle of disappointment | IN 60 SECONDS”

  1. The problem isn't the education. The problem is the environment. Urban environments are terrible for children. The real problem is that it is not possible to improve urban schools.

  2. Schools in poor areas receive dramatically less funding than schools in rich areas, and that's even taking into account that even rich schools don't have enough money and resources. We need to abolish the system of funding schools on the basis of local property taxes and ensure that all schools have enough resources. Otherwise we pay the price as a society when those kids who go to bad schools end up less successful and less economically productive.

  3. The hardest thing to do, sometimes, is to dig deeper beyond the veneer, in order to see what's really going on. We live in a world of spin, and, as the video points out, sound bite, quick fix, lick it and stick approaches to problem solving…which turn out to be a band-aid at best, and law breaking at worst. All while the kids languish and flounder…

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