LAUSD experiments with cloning successful school models
Two schools Los Angeles Unified School District schools each received a $750,000 Great Public Schools Grant to try to replicate the success of a current magnet school and pilot school in the district, the Los Angeles Times reports.
This approach is experimental both because the funding source is a non-profit that is known for its efforts at charter school expansion and because this is an attempt to replicate elements of specific schools rather than a set of data and best practices culled from many schools.
In one case, the money will be used to clone a magnet school based on the King/Drew Magnet School High School of Medicine and Science in Willowbrook, while the other grant will attempt to create a traditional school with the same theme as Public Service Community High School, a pilot school with a more flexible governance model.
The idea of replicating successful schools by cloning existing schools is not a new one. This notion has been circulating in the charter school community for years. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education began inviting applications for Charter Schools Program Grants for Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools in January of this year, before the current Secretary of Education took office.
It would certainly save time, money and trouble if a perfect school model could be created and then replicated, with all the same elements and resources, in neighborhoods throughout a district, ensuring success and educational equity for all. Though the implementation is likely unattainable, a Harvard study looked at how implementing a bundle of best practices from high-performing charter schools in low-performing, traditional public schools in Houston, Texas affected student achievement. The study yielded interesting results and opened new questions, concluding that improved academic achievement could be achieved, but that the scalability of the concept would be based on local politics, financial resources, fidelity of implementation and the supply of human capital.
In addition, socio-economic factors will continue to play a role in student achievement because attitudes and availability of community resources and support systems affect education. The development of good community involvement can aid in the development of any efforts at school improvement and are essential to its success.