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Why Our Definition of a 'Failing' School Needs Some Readjusting

Liz Dwyer

We hear so much about "failing" schools, but rarely stop to question whether our definition of failing is accurate. Education historian Diane Ravitch notes that labeling schools as failing is a relatively recent development. "Any school with low test scores is called a 'failing school,'" notes Ravitch, "without any inquiry into the circumstances of the school." The solution has been firing the entire staff or closing the school down. What would happen if we truly invested in the school instead?

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  • Dennis Van Roekel

    "Failing" schools is a misnomer. Instead we should focus on some of the failed policies that hurt students and schools: increased class sizes, teacher layoffs, cutting early education and pre-k funding, and budget cuts that take much-needed resources out of high-need schools.