EdMedia Commons Archive

Truth-Squading Districts That Have “Found the Answers”

I’m sharing this as a case study and cautionary tale on an assignment we all get: “Figure out which districts have solved this problem …”

The August edition of School Administrator has an in-depth and informative package on Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s strategic staffing program. There’s a lot of good info about getting strong educators to take on challenging assignments in urban schools. But if you read the introductory piece by our deputy superintendent (who was, at the time of writing, in the hunt for the top job), you will be assured that this effort has “exceeded our expectations” and “turned around” all 24 participating schools. Heck, it sounds like CMS has pretty much solved the challenge of urban school reform.

The reality, if you look at the latest round of test scores, is quite different. For starters, four of the seven schools that have been in the program four years logged 2012 composite pass rates in reading, math and science of 50 percent or lower – hardly a turnaround success. Here’s the article I wrote looking at the long term impact of the program.
I’m passing this along specifically in case you hear that CMS’ strategic staffing is the golden ticket. More generally, I’d like to spark discussion of how we can truth-squad claims from other districts, especially when our time is limited and/or experts may be overly enthusiastic. I don’t doubt for a minute that Jay Goldman and his crew were hearing from lots of well-informed sources that this program was a roaring success. And as someone who recently had to swoop into Reno and report on a newly hired superintendent, I know how hard it is to get your head around the subtleties of an unfamiliar district.

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.