Miami Zone suggests closing better than supporting bad schools

After taking over NYC schools in 2000, Rudy Crew set up a Chancellor’s District—an early example of differentiated management for low performing schools.  Like Steve Adamowski’s work in Cincinnati, this action was an important illustration of doing whatever it takes to turnaround low performing schools.  The Chancellor’s district was only moderately successful and was enveloped in a subsequent combination of federal, state, and local efforts.   

Rudy attempted the same strategy in Miami.  EdWeek blog reports that the $100 million effort to wrap low performing schools in supplemental services showed weak results:

Miami-Dade brought out the big guns to fix 39 of its lowest-performing schools. It spent $100 million, and created a special administrative team to tend to a cluster of eight struggling high schools and their feeder schools. Students at those schools had extra math and reading instruction, and longer school days and years. And now a new study says it had little payoff.

This is bad news for the wraparound services folks.  It seems to echo the Harlem Children’s Zone study which showed weak effects for services and strong effects for a good school.  It suggests that just supporting kids in a bad school isn’t nearly as effective as closing and replacing bad schools.  

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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