"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 09, 2007

Boston's Pilot Schools Keep Low Performers from Boarding the Plane

Talking about leaving kids behind? Massachusett's new corporate-inspired model schools are so focused on their bottom line that they are screening to make sure that low-performing poor kids don't even get a chance to attend. Just another example of the base corruption among the schemers and scammers of the privatization and anti-teachers movement. From the Boston Globe:

Most of Boston's experimental pilot high schools, held up as a national model and acclaimed for outperforming traditional public schools, have quietly created admissions hurdles that call into question whether they are stacking the deck with the most successful students.

The pilot high schools, run by the public school system, often demand student transcripts, teacher recommendations, and essays from applicants, practices more common in private schools, a Globe review of admissions policies has found.

Boston's superintendent and others say the hurdles fly in the face of the pilot schools' original purpose, which was to show that given more freedom in budgeting, teaching, and hiring, they could produce higher test scores with the same pool of students. The goal was to have traditional Boston public schools then replicate the success.

Regular school principals who accept any student who walks in the door say the pilots' admissions criteria infuriates them, given how a recent study hailed pilot schools' superior test scores and college-going rates. And, cities around the state and the nation, including Los Angeles, are creating pilots because of Boston's success.

"I think it's unfair, obviously," said Michael Fung, headmaster at Charlestown High School. "If you allow us to get rid of 25 percent of our kids, I can assure you I'd do a much better job than I am."

Superintendent Michael G. Contompasis said he is concerned about the perception that pilot schools are picking the best students and ordered them in recent years to stop reviewing transcripts and to phase out other requirements. Some headmasters continue to resist, insisting that they use the information to better understand students' needs and that they do not screen for the highest achievers.

State education officials, who last year proposed modeling four failing schools around the state after Boston's high-scoring pilot schools, said they were unaware of the pilots' admissions requirements and would ban the four schools from using them.

"Pilot and charter schools are doing a really good job with urban kids, but we shouldn't be comparing them to regular schools because they're educating kids who aren't exactly the same," said Ellen Guiney , executive director of Boston Plan for Excellence. "The kids farthest behind are not in the pilot schools."

The majority of Boston's pilot high schools enroll far fewer failing students than regular schools, according to a new study by Boston Plan for Excellence, a nonprofit that works with the city to improve schools. . . .

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