Friday, June 25, 2010

School of the Future Crashes and Burns

…and here is what I suspect is the real story:
As I predicted three years ago, Philadelphia's ultra-expensive, ultra-high-tech, and ulta-ironically-named School of the Future (SOF) would crash and burn.  Educators and edu-journalists believed otherwise.  They thought that SOF would revolutionize education by teaching 21st century skills.

What could possibly go wrong?  There was lots of technology.  Great facilities.  Community involvement.  Lots of money being thrown around.  There would be discovery learning and lots of inquiry.  In short there was a naïve over-reliance on all the accoutrement's of education that are irrelevant to student outcomes.  In fact, some of them are downright toxic.

But things have gone horribly wrong.  Take a look at last Spring's PSSA scores (Pennsylvania's easy state assessment) for 11th grade students at the School of the Future.
…In short pretty much everything went wrong and everyone blamed everyone but themselves for the problems.

But, the real problem is that you can bet that no one will learn from the failure of SOF.  You can bet that all those education technology bloggers won't address the problems of SOF that reveal to gaping holes in their vision of the wonders of education technology.  You can bet that all the poverty racers won't confront the failure of a mass infusion of money on student outcomes.  Will the union apologists address the real problems caused at SOF by their beloved unions?  And what about the progressive educators whose project-based curricula never live up to expectations in urban schools?

SOF is a microcosm of every dopey education reform that has come down the pike.  Oversell the expectations; ignore the predictable outcomes.

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