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Reconstitution refers to the highly controversial— and spreading— practice of replacing a school’s entire staff, from principal to custodians, as a remedy for failure. The assumption behind the move is that things are so bad that there is no alternative; the intent is to change the school’s culture and the relationships there. Some research suggests that reconstitution might work, but the evidence remains sketchy.
Some clues come from the San Francisco Unified School District, where a 1983 desegregation court order focused not just on where students go to school but also on improving education for African American and Latino students. Under the authority of the consent decree, San Francisco reconsituted six schools in very underserved, highly segregated parts of the city in a full-fledged attempt to bolster learning in those areas.
The district took major responsibility for success by launching a massive campaign to recruit the best teachers available, adding technology and providing professional development and extra resources. Most importantly, it developed a set of philosophic tenets to guide the rebuilding of the schools. In 1992 a panel of expert evaluators assigned by the court found that African Americans in reconstituted schools were performing better than those from similar backgrounds in other parts of the city. As a result, the consent decree called upon the district to reconstitute at least three schools a year, starting in 1993-94.
How are the schools faring? Researcher Jennifer O’Day, who has been documenting this experiment, says effects on learning so far have been fairly promising. Blazer winter Kasper Boutique Kasper winter Boutique Blazer zqPTFxwY Compared with schools of similar population, the reconstituted schools showed better performance, atmosphere, and staff and community relations. But O’Day’s clearest finding is that positive results don’t automatically follow from a personnel sweep. "Wiping out the faculty alone will not lead to long-term improvement in student performance. "She offers suggestions about why success requires a comprehensive approach:
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