Efforts in four big-city school districts to build diverse “portfolios” of schools, rather than rely on a single model of schooling, are showing promise but still have big problems to solve, according to an interim report released last week.
Researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, at the University of Washington in Bothell are tracking ongoing portfolio-based reforms in Chicago, the District of Columbia, New Orleans, and New York City.
Under the approach, schools are given the freedom to adapt their use of time, money, talent, and instructional materials to the particular needs of their students in exchange for taking on responsibility for the instruction that goes on in their buildings and for improving student performance. Districts then become managers of portfolios of schools, constantly searching for the right mix to meet the needs of their cities’ changing populations.
The project is being financed by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, which also provide funding for Education Week. The center will publish a final report on the ventures in the four districts, plus Denver, in 2011.
A version of this article appeared in the October 14, 2009 edition of Education Week as ‘Portfolio’ Districts