I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap
M. Night Shyamalan
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I Got Schooled offers a look at America’s educational achievement gap that could only have come from an outsider.
Famed director M. Night Shyamalan has long had a serious interest in education. The foundation he and his wife started once gave college scholarships to promising inner-city students, but Shyamalan realized that these scholarships did nothing to improve education for all the other students in under-performing schools. When he learned that some schools were succeeding with similar student populations, he traveled across the country to find out how they did this and whether these schools had something in common. He eventually learned that there are five keys to closing America’s achievement gap. But just as we must do several things to maintain good health— eat the right foods, exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep—so too must we use all five keys to turn around our lowest-performing schools.
These five keys are used by all the schools that are succeeding, and no schools are succeeding without them. Before he discovered them, Shyamalan investigated some popular reform ideas that proved to be dead ends, such as smaller class size, truculent unions, and merit pay for teachers. He found that the biggest obstacle to school reform is cognitive biases: too many would-be reformers have committed themselves to false solutions.
This is a deeply personal book by an unbiased observer determined to find out what works and why so that we as a nation can fulfill our obligation to give every student an opportunity for a good education.
actors or directors or producers. To Masterman’s students, though, while a visit from a film crew wasn’t an everyday event, it was exactly the sort of thing they expected to happen. Their entire lives had taught them that things like that were possible. That anything was possible. Overbrook’s students didn’t even believe we were there. If the kids at Masterman had spent their lives being taught that anything was possible, Overbrook’s student body had learned the opposite. That’s one reason that
you can find on teachers’ résumés—whether or not they have advanced degrees, or even certification; whether they got a degree from a prestigious college or not; what their SAT scores were, or their grade-point averages; even the number of years spent teaching—and turn all that information into a score. Then jump ahead five years, and compare student success in the classes taught by the teachers with the lowest scores to those with the highest. All that information you gathered before you hired
can’t measure easy-to-isolate things like profits, or widgets-per-hour. It’s a challenge even to figure out how to design a study, much less make sense of the results. One way, though, is to look at the year-to-year fluctuations in student achievement growth in the year after a new principal is hired. If you could hold the other effects constant, then maybe year-to-year variation in school achievement was a function of the principal’s “added value.” That’s just what three economists—Gregory
statistically significant impact at all: Hanushek, 2003. spent more than $19 billion on them: Hanushek, 2010. Virtually undetectable: Goldhaber, 1997. There are studies showing that teacher performance: Hanushek, 2010. Master’s degrees in science and math had a positive effect. But 90 percent of master’s degrees awarded to teachers are in Education programs. “extrinsic incentives bias”: Heath, 1999. about how much they were paid: Buckingham, 1999. good public schools than a desire for
“Leadership as the Practice of Improvement” (Elmore), 41 Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant Elementary Academy (New York City), 250 Lean, David, 217 Learning About Teaching (MET), 99 Lemov, Doug, 130–32, 151n, 162 Levin, Dave, 124 Lichtenstein, 8 Lind, James, 22 Linearity fallacy, 33 Location scouting, 3–5 Locke, John, 13n Locke High School (Los Angeles), 179–80 Longitudinal studies, 23 of early intervention, 187–92 Los Angeles Unified School District, 50, 179, 225, 252 charter