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February 2015 | Volume 72 | Number 5
Improving Schools: What Works?
We won't get the results we need until
we treat teachers as true professionals.
If you're in charge and someone
who works for you isn't doing the
job you hired them to do, you hold
them accountable. If you point
out that they're not delivering and
they still don't buckle down, you get
someone who will do the job. Simple,
It must have seemed that simple
to the framers of No Child Left
Behind (NCLB) in 2001. They were
angry people, both Republicans and
Democrats. For years, leaders of
both parties had poured more and
more money into federal programs
for disadvantaged students, at a rate
greatly exceeding the increases in
inflation; yet the improvements in reading performance,
for the student
population as a whole and for disadvantaged
students in particular,
had been modest or flat. It appeared
that the money had gone down a rat
hole, and Congress was ready to hold
schools accountable. Under NCLB, the
money for school improvement would
still flow, but if the students were not
on track to reach full proficiency by
2014, schools could be closed, principals
could be replaced, and teachers
could be fired. It was time, Congress
thought, to get tough.
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