Baltimore City Schools have struggled for years to raise student achievement. There have been multiple strategies, any number of new textbooks and instructional approaches, and lots and lots of money invested in attempts to move students toward proficiency, particularly in math and reading. Though recently students have been achieving at higher levels, city students are still scoring well below the national and big-city averages on the most recent national assessments in math and reading.
What to do next? Here’s an audacious idea: use what works.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but far too many schools, including many in Baltimore, are sticking to methods and materials that have not brought results. There are a number of programs, however, especially in reading and math, that have consistently proven that they make a difference in learning. Perhaps school leaders in Baltimore need more information about what works for improving learning, especially in schools with large numbers of vulnerable children, as well as incentives to use only those with evidence that they have worked in similar schools and districts. Once they are in place, those that work well in the Baltimore context could then be scaled up over time, improving outcomes throughout the district.
OSI-Baltimore’s Learning About Learning Series: Lessons for Baltimore beginning next month looks like a good opportunity for educators to learn from and expand what works for students. Sometimes we just need to need to be willing to recognize when things aren’t working and be willing to cut our losses and find better solutions. We know a lot about what does work in education and with so many proven programs and approaches at our disposal, we need to be open to finding those that are most likely to help more children get on the path to success now.