Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gatesifying Austin schools

The Gates Foundation's controversial high school redesign initiative has now fully landed in Austin schools. A few years ago, the Austin school district began the redesign process, which includes splitting big schools into smaller ones, on its own. Now the Gates Foundation is helping to pay the bill; more accurately, they're paying $1.5 million of it.

Austin's NPR station broadcasted a brief story on it Friday. They mention in the story that math scores at the so-called Gates schools are flat, while reading scores are up slightly. What they don't mention is what effect, if any, the redesign process is having on holding power, or the ability of the schools to keep kids from dropping out. I haven't seen any data (I'd be appreciative if anyone who has would post a link in the comments) but my guess is that retention rates go up when the schools are smaller. Math and reading scores aside, that would be a supremely important accomplishment.

I'll be watching the Gatesifying of Austin schools closely.


Blogger Superdestroyer said...

The schools really are not smaller. The large high school is divided into smaller administration units but the kids are still in a high school of several thousand kids. They still ride the same buses, still use the same facilites and still walk in the same crowded hallways.
The "big as many smalls" is the school administrator biggest dream. It creates many more positions for counselors, deans, coordinators, and principals while not requiring the hiring of anymore direct instruction personnel.

4:46 AM  

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