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Home Industry News 730 U.S. schools trying to reinvent themselves

730 U.S. schools trying to reinvent themselves

The federal government has enticed 730 schools across the nation to reinvent themselves this school year, and nearly a third have chosen the most difficult paths to get a piece of the more than $500 million set aside for transforming schools where too many children are failing to learn  “This is tough, tough work, but it’s desperately needed,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday.  Most of the schools fired their principals and changed their entire approach to learning this school year, while others replaced much of the staff. Yet Duncan said “there’s been no drama about it. Folks have moved with an urgency that’s sort of fantastic to watch.”

The lack of drama was in sharp contrast to a couple of early school invention efforts, including one in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where a high school’s entire teaching staff was fired in February and got their jobs back in May after community protests.  To get federal school improvement money, schools in the bottom five percent of those not making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law must choose from among approaches to turn around student test scores. The program is voluntary.

The approaches include: closing the school and moving kids to other buildings; restarting a traditional public school as a charter school; firing most of the staff and starting over with a new team; or firing the principal and taking a new approach to learning.

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