MDRC in the News

The Urgent Moral Case for Replacing Persistently Failing Schools

Joel Klein and John White, The Daily Beast


At a time when social mobility, income inequality and joblessness for the under-educated dominate the national discussion, it is notable that our Presidential candidates have largely avoided talking about elementary and secondary education. In America today, a child raised in a family with earnings in the bottom quartile nationally is six times less likely to graduate from college than is a child whose family earns in the top quartile. Important as it is that candidates address the effect of college debt on low-income students, the odds for poor kids will not improve without change in the elementary and secondary schools that equip students for college in the first place.

No issue in school reform has proven more contentious than the nationwide push to improve persistently struggling schools in low-income communities. In cities across the country, attempts to transform hulking high schools into clusters of more nurturing small schools, or to create innovative public charter schools in low-income neighborhoods, have yielded debate and protest…..

…..This research adds to evidence that the strategy to replace large failing high schools with smaller ones increased student achievement significantly and at great scale. A 2013 Study by MDRC found that students attending new small schools in New York graduated at a rate nearly 10 percentage points higher than did citywide peers with comparible backgrounds and learning needs…..

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