Monday, October 22, 2007

Could this be your school?

Knowledge is not necessarily where you think it is. One of the huge fallacies of performance-based accountability systems is the misconception that nominally low-performing schools don't know what they are doing and that nominally high-performing schools have something to teach them. This year, I have been in nominally low-performing schools that know far more than nearby nominally high-performing schools do about the processes of instructional improvement, creating settings with strong norms of practice, and managing the multiple demands of urban schools.

Most high-performing schools in our highly segregated society have gotten there not by knowing a great deal about instructional practice or improvement but by getting and holding on to students in high socioeconomic groups. The practice in most nominally high-performing schools is emphatically not about improvement but about maintenance of a certain level of confidence with the surrounding community. When I speak about improvement with people in these schools, they often look at me as if it had nothing to do with them. Most of the knowledge about improvement is in the schools where improvement is occurring, and most of those schools are, by definition, schools with a history of low performance.

A Plea for Strong Practice
Educational Leadership, November 2003

Richard F. Elmore

No comments: