Susan Ohanian : LEVERAGE LEADERSHIP and TEST MANDATES
HISD spent $60 million on Apollo 20, created by Harvard EdLabs'Roland Fryer. Billed as a turnaround plan for troubled schools, it was largely a test-prep program. The results were sharp declines in AP (Advanced Placement) scores, as shown by HISD's own figures; no sustained STAAR gains; and 25 percent enrollment declines in many Apollo schools. Even with such poor results, the HISD board subsequently approved another contract with EdLabs for a similar program, Leverage Leadership.-- Houston Chronicle, Feb.17, 2015
Summary of Leverage Leadership provided by Houston Chronicle
Leverage Leadership mandates a dramatic expansion of benchmark testing.
• Students take four district-based assessments in the first 13 weeks of school with four more scheduled for the spring. • These tests are district-created with minimal teacher input and vetted by Harvard EdLabs. They often cover content not yet taught and differ substantively from the original teacher version. • Administrators are required to observe teachers (20 min/wk) and discuss data (30 min/wk) with each teacher. For a 15 teacher load, this translates to 2.3 hrs/day. This is more than 25% of a workday and is not inclusive of evaluation.
LL is demoralizing students. • Children do not see connections between their instruction and their assessments. • Many schools assign students test grades for snapshots. • Students are discouraged by assessments that test them over content they have not yet learned. • The snapshots derail instruction the week prior to the snapshot as teachers only receive snapshots one week ahead of district-mandated testing windows. • Students from pre-K through high school are taking benchmarks. Leverage Leadership damages our schools. • Requiring administrators to spend 25% of their day on LL activities means less time for creating and monitoring a safe school environment, facilities management, and building relationships with students, faculty, staff and community. • This program is modeled after EdLab’s Apollo program, which saw no significant change in ELA scores, no sustained math gains, a precipitous drop in student enrollment and massive teacher turnover.
LL is a dangerous diversion of time, energy, and resources from meaningful instruction and evaluation.
• HISD will pay $1.25 million over two years for LL assessments and coaching. • Benchmarking reduces