No one-size-fits-all: New Haven school run by teachers

21 Aug

Moi first wrote about teacher run schools in Teachers running schools:

Different forms of schools run by teachers are beginning to evolve. See, School teachers in charge? Why some schools are forgoing principals.

Melissa Bailey reported in the New Haven Independent article which was posted at Huffington Post, High School In The Community, New Haven Turnaround School, To Be Run By Teachers, Union:

New Haven’s turning one of its low-performing schools over to its teachers and the teachers’ union in an experiment that shatters traditional definitions of American school reform.  Bailey follows-up her report in another article.

Melissa Bailey writes in the New Haven Independent article, School Ditches Factory “Assembly Line”:

Sixty-five freshmen are about to embark on a new journey to reimagine a high school education—one that may take three, five, or even six years, depending on how quickly they learn.

Just don’t call them “freshmen.”

And say good-bye to social promotion.

We’re pushing all the assumptions of how school is supposed to work,” said Erik Good, who’s steering the experimental journey.

The journey begins a week from Wednesday as the academic year begins at High School in the Community (HSC). The radical restructuring is taking place as the Water Street magnet school becomes a “turnaround”—a school with special permission to reconstitute its staff, extend the school day, and overhaul the school rules in order to lift lagging student performance.

A teacher-run school since its inception in 1970, HSC launched two months ago as a turnaround directly managed by the teachers union instead of the school district central office staff. It’s among the most prominent examples to date of how, unlike in other cities, the teachers union and school board here are working together rather than fight on school reform experiments.

HSC, which has 250 students from New Haven and surrounding suburbs, is the city’s sixth turnaround school. Earlier this month it joined the first batch of schools to become part of the state’s new “Commissioner’s Network” of state-sanctioned turnarounds. The state Board of Education approved an extra $7.5 million for HSC and three other turnarounds in other cities. HSC will receive about $1 to $1.5 million to pay for its plans, according to state Department of Education spokesman Jim Polites.

The school got a head start on its transformation last spring, when staff had to re-interview for their jobs, prompting a third of the 31 teachers to leave. The leadership team, which was elected by teachers at the school, will remain in place.

Good, who has worked at HSC for 12 years and was elected to serve as an administrator for the past two, is overseeing the overhaul as the “building leader.” (The school has no technical “principal.”)

Good and his colleagues have spent the summer diving into a daunting task: To reinvent how the school evaluates and promotes students.

To start, HSC is scrapping the term “freshmen.”

Instead of entering “freshman year,” incoming students will be placed at the “foundation level” of a new “competency-based learning” system. That means students have to demonstrate mastery of certain skills in order to move up.

That’s a big change from the current system, where students simply have to get passing grades to progress.

School will no longer be a “Henry Ford assembly line” where all kids get shuffled through at the same speed, Good said. Instead of getting promoted based on seat time, students will progress at their own pace, once they’re ready.

We’re pushing all the assumptions of how school is supposed to work,” Good said.

HSC is piloting the new system with its first-year students; next year, it plans to convert the entire school to competency-based promotion, he said.

Still another idea is put forth by Andrew J. Rotherham in the Time article, Can Parents Take Over Schools?

The point is, there is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of children.


Teacher Cooperatives                                           

Can Teachers Run Their Own Schools?           

Can Teachers Run Schools?                         

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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