Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Is Today | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends today, Feb. 23. Register now.
Education Letter to the Editor

A 10 Percent Solution?

November 28, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In his Oct. 18, 2006, Commentary “Research and Effectiveness,” Robert E. Slavin proposes an initiative whereby districts not meeting standards could, when requesting discretionary federal funding, be awarded “a bonus of up to 10 points, on a scale of 100, if the applicant commits to the use of programs with strong evidence of effectiveness.”

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable proposal. But what he does not say here, but has said many times elsewhere, is that his program, Success for All, is the most scientifically validated to have strong evidence of effectiveness. So the question is: Should the government provide a bonus for schools to adopt this program? The answer is a resounding no.

In a series of published articles, I have shown that much of the research supporting Success for All was done by the developer and his associates and was of questionable methodological validity. The original research, conducted by the developer in Baltimore, showed that the program was highly effective. Why, then, did the district decide to drop the program? Was it due to mismanagement or politics? No, the program was dropped because students entered the 6th grade, after five years in the program, three to four years below grade level.

More recently, the Atlanta public schools relied on Success for All to raise the performance of the system’s predominantly African-American schools. The result, on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, was that Atlanta had a black-white achievement gap in reading of approximately four years at the 4th grade level. (This is not a misprint.)

The special problems with SFA aside, programs generally are not tested on a sufficiently large scale to warrant their being promoted, and few could afford to conduct such research.

At this point, I do not know of any large-scale programs that have been shown to consistently enable students to be successful to the point where it makes sense to promote their use. Educators are not stupid. If there were in fact an unusually, universally effective program out there, schools would be voluntarily adopting it en masse, and would not need incentives.

So, when all is said and done, this version of the “10 percent solution” is merely the latest ploy by an influential, well-funded vendor to get his program promoted by the government. My own version of the “10 percent solution” would be for the U.S. Department of Education to invest 10 percent of its budget in the development of truly breakthrough programs.

Stanley Pogrow

Professor of Educational Leadership

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week as A 10 Percent Solution?


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 31, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education In Their Own Words The Stories That Stuck With Us, 2023 Edition
Our newsroom selected five stories as among the highlights of our work. Here's why.
4 min read
102523 IMSE Reading BS
Adria Malcolm for Education Week