Charter Lessons Applied

A report released by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute demonstrates five key practices that low-performing schools can implement to improve student achievement.

Using the work of Dr. Roland Fryer, a Harvard economics professor and faculty director at EdLabs (Harvard’s Education Innovations Laboratories), the study identifies the key lessons any school can learn from the higher-performing charter schools. Dr. Fryer worked with the Houston Independent School District on a pilot program targeting nine low-performing schools in Houston, Texas, which resulted in the published findings.
“The question isn’t: Do we need more charter schools, traditional schools, gifted, schools, or magnet schools?” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, during a recent Hamilton Project forum in D.C. “We need better public schools.” Duncan points out that debates between which model school is better “misses the central point.”

The five key lessons are:

  1. Extended time at school
  2. Strong administrators and teachers
  3. Data-driven instruction
  4. Small-group tutoring
  5. Creating a “culture of high expectations”

After implementing these five practices in the Houston schools, the report says test scores, especially in math “increased dramatically … equivalent to giving the students an additional 3 ½ months of instruction.”

Dr. Fryer goes on in the report to state that the biggest challenge to implementation is insuring there are enough highly-skilled teachers that want to use these practices, and school leaders that see the value to the students.

Click here for the full report.