Reed Magazine Feb. 2001 Leave No Child BehindPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Home

 

All this comes at a price. A typical 500-student elementary school spends $70,000-$85,000 the first year, for materials and services including at least 25 days of on-site training. Title 1 schools, for whom the program is targeted, are the only ones with the federal funding to afford it. “Our average school has more than 80 percent of students in poverty,” Slavin says. With its eight-figure budget, he adds, Success for All is constantly at financial risk due to the degree of ongoing R&D that can’t be charged to schools. “Private and foundation grants are critical to us,” he says.

Despite challenges like these, Success for All has blossomed. In the last two years the staff has grown from 150 to 400, offering programs in reading, math, science, and social studies; a Spanish-language program; and a preschool program. A middle school curriculum is in the works, and Success for All is now visible in several foreign countries. In 1997 Slavin and Madden made a friendly break from Johns Hopkins and became the Success for All Foundation. Madden is CEO and Slavin chairman; he continues to co-direct the university’s Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk.

A heady level of success for a couple of “sci-fi kids” from Reed? Perhaps, but “it was the nature of the college to encourage thinking big thoughts and dreaming big dreams,” Slavin says. “Reed took us seriously as thinkers, writers, and experimenters. We thought it was perfectly normal at the time, but I now realize how extremely unusual that is.”

Today, the two pioneers are looking at the potential of real progress in national evidence-based school reform. In 1997 Congress allocated $150 million to help schools adopt “proven, comprehensive reform models.” Success for All is the model most used by schools receiving these CSRD (Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration) funds, and Slavin addressed the House Education and Workforce Committee in 1998 on “the enormous hunger among educators for programs that work.”

 

Teacher in the classroom


“We don’t have the right to fail to teach a child,” Slavin tells his audiences. “We just don’t have that right. As we get better and better at saying, ‘This is more effective than that,’ teachers as professionals have the responsibility to do the things that work.”
Some educators predict that in five to ten years, every school in America will have a brand-name program. “It may not be Success for All; ours is far from the only way to do this,” Slavin says. “But to be able to offer kids everywhere a well-thought-out curriculum--that is our hope. It’s entirely possible that in 20 years we’ll look back and say, ‘That’s when things really changed in education.”

Kate Hobbie is a freelance writer in Battle Ground, Washington.

 

 
 
 

Reed Magazine Feb. 2001

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