Gates Foundation’s Small Learning Communities Have Yet to Yield Big Results

Linda Shaw:

The experiment — an attempt to downsize the American high school — has proven less successful than hoped.
The changes were often so divisive — and the academic results so mixed — that the Gates Foundation has stopped always pushing small as a first step in improving big high schools. Instead, it’s now also working directly on instruction, giving grants to improve math and science instruction, for example.
Most of the dozen-and-a-half Washington schools with so-called “conversion” grants have ended up only as hybrids — a mix of small-school elements added to big-school features.
Going forward, the foundation is advocating a core curriculum that all high-school students would be expected to take, he said. And it wants to help improve math and science instruction by backing efforts to increase math requirements for high-school students, and to train more math and science teachers and pay them better.