What Works (Charlie is Right)
From the article (bold mine):
In 2009, the 580-student primary school, tucked between fast-food restaurants and gas stations in a semi-industrial strip of Fourth Avenue, topped the city with its fourth-grade math scores, with all students passing, all but one with a mark of “advanced,” or Level 4. In English, all but one of 75 fourth graders passed, earning a Level 3 or 4, placing it among the city’s top dozen schools.
On average, at schools with the same poverty rate, only 66 percent of the students pass the English test, and 29 percent score at an advanced level in math, according to a New York Times analysis of Department of Education statistics. And though it is less well known, P.S. 172 regularly outperforms its neighbors in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, where parents raise hundreds of thousands a year for extra aides and enrichment.
"While about one-third of the students are still learning English, there are no bilingual classes. They were eliminated years ago at the request of parents, who noticed that children placed directly in English-only classes, with extra help from teachers of English as a Second Language, were scoring higher"What do they have these kids on, Adderall? (Just kidding.)
Nope, here's what the principal says:
“Teach, assess, teach, assess,” said Jack Spatola, its principal since 1984.
Mr. Spatola attributed the coaches and other extra help to careful budgeting and fighting for every dollar from the Department of Education; the school’s cost per pupil, in fact, is lower than the city’s average.
The article notes it is harder at the top to raise scores and that the students will have a more comprehensive test than in past years to contend with next time.
But here's where Charlie is right (because he says this all the time):
"At P.S. 172, the focus on test material began in February. By mid-April, nearly every moment in class seemed to touch on the effort to help the children pass. Up to five special coaches and teachers were providing help to small groups of students."
"Students at P.S. 172 who need more help stay in their classrooms until 4:45 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, after a short snack break at the regular 3:05 quitting time."
The point is to help every. single. student. Find out what each student needs help with and help them. Charlie says all the time, it is not failing schools but students who need help. This school seems to have figured that out even with children in poverty and with some parents who don't speak English at home.
Now I might point to the longevity of this principal and the apparent magic he does with a budget. It seems they must have very dedicated teachers who are willing to work longer hours for better results for students. They probably have parents who are willing to help. (The elimination of the bilingual classes probably frees up money that they can then use for bilingual tutors. Again, individual attention.)
Read the last part of the article about a little boy who is struggling. But what does he say? He says (about the math test), "I want to get a hundred." It's the support, the belief in the child and the follow-thru that wins the day and makes that child believe he can do it.
How do we duplicate this result?