Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole

January 31, 2011 •

When there are schools that are smaller, different than traditional schools, it becomes particularly important to measure value-added performance—and to appreciate expanded forms of achievement.

Schools should be held to high standards but not compelled to follow standardized processes.

The School of Urban Planning and Architecture (SUPAR) in Milwaukee—a popular and successful school with an alternative design—is facing the challenge of having to fit a round school design into a square hole.

This article from the Journal Sentinel lays it out well:

Its attendance rate was lower than the district average and its financial reporting standards were questionable, according to documents that went to the school board. Those documents are recommending closure, something the full board will discuss Thursday.
But at a board committee meeting this month, SUPAR students changed the conversation. They were eloquent, weaving personal stories in with their knowledge of the school’s assets and challenges. Outside supporters from the university community spoke about the school’s progress.
Teachers held up data that painted a different picture: that of a school making gains with a population of kids that hadn’t been successful elsewhere. The school is in its fourth year and all of its graduates – albeit a small number so far – have gone on to post-secondary education or the military.