Firing staff isn't best solution for
'failing' schools, study finds
Feb. 28, 2007
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.28.2007
forced to reorganize because of poor performance under the U.S. No Child Left
Behind law are more likely to improve if they change teaching practices rather
than firing staff, according to a study in California.
findings may pose another challenge to the Bush administration, which is asking
Congress to toughen the No Child law by reducing the options for schools that
fail to meet testing standards. President Bush is seeking congressional renewal
of the five-year-old law this year.
the California schools that kept their staffs and took steps such as hiring
teaching coaches met their English-language testing targets the following year,
the Washington-based Center on Education Policy said in a report released today.
That compares with a 44 percent success rate among all failing schools, and 32
percent among those that replaced staff.
complex changes seem to bring about better results than the simplistic changes
like firing staff," said Jack Jennings, president of the group. The center is
funded by donors including the Carnegie Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
findings are similar to recommendations by a commission assembled by the Aspen
Institute, a Washington-based policy study group, after a year of studying the
No Child law.
sanctions should focus "on improving instruction and learning in schools, rather
than making structural changes to the management and operation of districts,"
the Aspen Institute commission said in final report this month.
on solutions for schools deemed to be failing under No Child isn't definitive
because the most severe performance-improvement steps are in their early stages,
administration says the No Child law is a way to ensure that all grade-school
students reach minimum competency levels in subjects such as math and reading by
administration, in its proposals to Congress this year, recommended that schools
reaching the restructuring phase "be required either to make substantial changes
in staff or to reconstitute the schools' governance structure."
Tucson schools have been subject to intervention in recent years because they
failed to meet accountability standards.
Elementary, 5455 E. Littletown Road, and Van Buskirk Elementary school, 725 E.
Fair St., were labeled "failing" in 2004 for failing to meet state standards. A
new principal was placed at Craycroft and a year later, it was promoted to
"performing." Van Buskirk kept its principal but still was monitored by the
Department of Education as it attempted to pull itself out of the failing
category. A year later, it was labeled "performing plus."
year, Lawrence Intermediate School, 4850 W. Jeffrey Road, was labeled "failing"
federal standards and a new principal was hired to improve the school. She began
by rehiring the entire faculty and staff. Test scores in April will decide how
much Lawrence has improved.
Middle School, 1701 S. Columbus Blvd., was labeled "failing" state standards in
2006. An improvement plan was agreed upon last week by state and district
Arizona Daily Star