More glum feedback for the Gates Foundation's pricey initiative to create and support small schools--and others enraptured with smallness per se as an education reform strategy. First, there was this interim federal report on small learning communities, which found that they do little to improve student achievement. Now, there is this story out of Oregon where dropout rates for the small schools are just as dismal as those of the bigger high schools that they were designed to replace (i.e, still around 50 percent). Test scores and attendance haven't budged either. Fortunately, Gates leaders are paying attention. Says education chief Vicki Phillips (a recent Oregonian herself), "We have learned that small by itself is not enough. Good curriculum and instruction don't just show up...We need to get more dramatic results." Exactly so.
"Oregon's small-school experiment slow to see results" by Betsy Hammond and Lisa Grace Lednicer, The Oregonian, June 8, 2008