Low Performing Schools Make Little Or No Progress

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					A new study suggests that recent reform efforts of low-performing K-8
public schools have not been effective. The findings, released by the
Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Basis Policy Research, conclude that only
a small percentage of schools identified as low-performing during the
2003-04 school year had made any significant academic improvement five
years later.The study identified 2,025 schools in 10 different states
that were in need of reform and tracked their progress over a span of
five years. All schools included in the study performed in the bottom 10
percent on state reading and math assessments. After five years, "only
about 1 percent had improved enough to exceed their states' average
academic performance... and less than 10 percent had even broken out of
the lowest 25 percent of schools in their state."Many low-performing
schools continue to operate without making any significant progress
toward improving students' academic performance. Of the schools included
in the study, only 19 percent of the lowest performing charter schools
and 11 percent of traditional public schools were shut down. While
charter schools were likelier to close than public schools, they were
also more likely to improve "moderately rather than dramatically."
Although public schools often enroll about 200 more students than charter
schools on average, they otherwise look similar. Researchers found that
low-performing schools were twice as likely as top-performing schools to
be located in urban areas and that they enrolled twice as many minority
and low-income students.Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Fordham
Institute said that in the past several years, even after the federal
government passed the No Child Left Behind Act in attempt to increase
student academic performance, school improvement efforts "just didn't
work out very often. Real turnarounds are extremely scarce, and shutdowns
were a little more common but still pretty scarce," he said.

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