Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Holly Springs Conclusion

Many of the first and second-years have written about their individual summer school experiences in their blogs. I’ll leave the day-to-day challenges and triumphs to the teachers who were actually there, putting in the hard work. Instead let me write about the overall impact.

Every student in every MTC Summer School class was given a pre and post-test to assess the “Teacher Corps impact.” The impact would be measured in one month of schooling equal to four months of regular school as the kids had four classes a day.

Each group of classroom teachers was responsible for creating the pre and post-test. Many simply used the state-tests available on-line. Some devised their own based on the subject and grade level (because we had different teachers creating different tests the final numbers don’t give us a statistically sound measure of the effect of Teacher Corps. Hopefully, next year we will have a validated assessment tool for each class so we can have reportable data.) On the last day we calculated the average percent increase on the post-test for each class and also for the student body as a whole.

In four weeks the impact of Teacher Corps on the student body as a whole was an average 79% increase from the pre-test to the post-test.

79%. In one month.

A few kids did worse, a few did better, but most did much better. One girl made a 0 out of 60 on the biology pre-test and a 30 out of 60 on the post. In my limited understanding of math I believe this indicates an infinite percent increase (to actually calculate her increase we assumed she made a 1 out of 60 on the pre-test, which would have given her a 3000% increase.)

79%. In one month. It blows my mind. What would happen if we had three months?

And that brings me back to Wade’s question: “Why doesn’t Teacher Corps place 25 teachers at one school?”

While it is a good question I think I now have a better one:

Why doesn’t Teacher Corps run our own school?


dd adams said...

ive been reading your holly springs post and getting pretty fired up over the idea/possibility of an mtc school ... how would our impact be most felt? spreading out in every delta community or concentrating our efforts in one? a charter school was recently started in adams, my hometown, with much contention and that i helped to get underway ... we get a lot of the worst kids, kicked out of public schools in ours and surrounding districts, but because of the quality of teachers and the non-orthodox methods of teaching (more freedom & flexibility) it is run incredibly smoothly and the students are achieving tremendously. i like the idea in the delta - maybe catering to a critical needs focal point that opens its doors to several of the 'worst' districts - maybe similar to the 'arts and sciences' schools in nyc ... itd be a helluva experiment, but worthwhile i believe (if holly springs is any sort of testament) - are you all tossing this idea around at all?

Ben Guest said...

First, at the moment this is nothing more than another "crazy, Ben Guest idea." I sure the directors of the program sometimes wonder, "What the hell is he thinking?"

That being said, I think it is doable. It would take a lot of refining and there are a lot of challenges. But I believe a group of intelligent, high-achieving young people could make it happen...

The biggest obstacle right now is, as with most things, finance. Charter schools are illegal in Mississippi so how would the school be financed?

Also, no one but me and some of the first and second-years are even thinking about this. It would take some serious convincing for the directors and SOE admin to jump on board. Of course, the numbers speak for themselves.

My thinking early on, and again this is just one of my crazy ideas, is that we could partner with the state the next time a school district is taken over. At that point the school has failed, there is nothing to lose, and maybe, with the data from Holly Springs, the state might say, "Go ahead. Run it for a year and see what happens."

I think both you and I have a good idea of what would happen.