Stocking stuffer #1/left over from last week: I just read Rick Mintrop's Schools on Probation: How Accountability Works (and Doesn't Work) and highly recommend it for those wondering how the threat of closure may play out in NYC and elsewhere.
Based on a study of 11 Maryland and Kentucky schools on probation, Mintrop, a Berkeley edu-prof, found:
Advocates of high-stakes accountability hope that the public exposure of low performance and the threat of further sanctions will move educators to increase work effort and schools to get organized and focused on student achievement. This book shows, in a nutshell, that probation had a weak motivational effect on most educators. The case is different for administrators and small groups of highly involved teachers. Teachers modestly strove to increase test scores and overcome probation primarily because of a desire to be rid of the negative label and diffuse commitment to their school, not because they expected a clear reward. Nor did they consider accountability goals as particularly meaningful orientations for their work.
Like Charlie Clotfelter et al's paper, "Do School Accountability Systems Make it More Difficult for Low Performing Schools to Attract and Retain High Quality Teachers?" (answer: yes), Mintrop looks at the ways that the label of probation pushes educators out the door. It's a useful study and a nice, if depressing, read.