Mr. Franklin and his ideas are a shining example of the direction that education ought be moving in order to bring change to our schools. In this interview he shares his opinions of the educational system, which while shared by many, are not necessarily representative of all other educators. This is part two of an on going series. Read part 1 here.
Q: Your school has undergone an amazing improvement in the API (Academic Performance Index) standardized test scores since you arrived. In fact, the scores improved so much so that Laura Bush came in person to see the school in 2005. What caused the change?
A: The first year that I taught at the school, 1999, our API scores were a dismal 426 out of a possible 900 points. That score put us in the bottom third of state in terms of what our students achieved compared to other schools in the state. Over the next 6 years, our scores steadily improved, some years making jumps as big as 50 points, which is dramatic improvement. In 2005, we had a peak of 616 points. Since then, our scores have remained stable in the low 600’s, and now we rank pretty close to the median.
What I believe caused the higher test scores was primarily an influx of new administrative leadership and the attitude they brought. The District gutted the school of its previous lackluster establishment, and the new people greatly increased morale amongst the teachers and students alike. We were blessed with a new principal who was enthusiastic and energetic. The new principal fostered a positive, infectious attitude and a sense of pride in the school, which the school had not seen in years. Suddenly, school went from being dull to “cool” for the students.
The teachers were happier and tried harder. The kids were happier and tried harder. I would say the increased scores were probably 50% a result of the attitude change alone. The other factors that led to increased achievement were more tangible. We received more (more…)