Monday, August 17, 2009

Is RSD an expensive, divisive failure?

Will the experiment with state takeovers of challenged public schools wind up an expensive, divisive failure?

That seems to be a preliminary estimation of the State Recovery School District effort in East Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee Parishes. As Advocate reporter Charles Lussiere writes here, the four schools in question are "faring little or no better than they were two or three years before state takeover, according to audits."

The State Department of Education supervisor for the schools agrees that school performance has been unacceptable, but blames the failure in part on an inability to gain stable leadership in the schools.

One of those, Prescott Middle School, has had three principals in one year, and last year lacked certified, highly qualified teachers.

Looking ahead, the supervisor said the takeovers will be judged successful if "in three to five years, 60 percent to 75 percent of their students are scoring “basic” or above — i.e., at or above grade level — on state standardized tests."

Thus far, RSD is spending $1 million to evaluate the progress of the schools. At one of them, Capitol High, the private company that manages the school is spending another million to upgrade programs and course offerings.

Which begs the question: If these schools had been offered the same resources while under control of the local school board, would they be performing at least as well as they are under the recovery district?

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