Not all low-performing schools are alike, says a new report that offers a framework to help educators, policymakers, and advocates direct attention to the schools that need it most.
For their report, researchers from the Education Trust, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, draw on five years of testing data for Indiana and Maryland to track the progress of the lowest-performing schools in each state.
Of the 275 Maryland schools that started out in the bottom quartile, the authors found that 64 percent made gains large enough to rank among the state’s most-improved schools, and 28 percent improved at an average rate. The remaining 7 percent of schools got “stuck,” improving slowly and sometimes not at all.
Among the 370 low-performing schools in Indiana, 38 percent stagnated, 38 percent improved at high rates, and 24 percent fell in the middle range.
The overall pace of improvement statewide was faster in Maryland than it was in Indiana. That meant a Maryland school had to make bigger gains to be a top improver than would a similar school in Indiana.
“An accountability system should distinguish between schools that start out low-performing and make gains and those that year after year show little capacity to improve,” the report says, and target the greatest amount of support and resources to the latter.
The report is the first of four that the group plans to issue from a 10-state study of “stuck” schools.
A version of this article appeared in the March 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as Study: Target Aid to ‘Stuck’ Schools