Monday, April 30, 2018

Expansion of literacy coaches - another likely failed initiative after looking at past results

Some of us remember how there were reading and math coaches hired in every NYC public elementary school in the first phase of Children's First under Chancellor Joel Klein.  It led to little or no improvement in achievement, according to the NAEPs.

Now Mayor de Blasio wants to spend $30 million on hiring more literacy coaches..  From Politico:

The initiative relies on a vast infrastructure of reading coaches and other supports. Just under $22 million of the new funding will pay for staff, including new coaches, more targeted supports in high-needs schools, and higher salaries for coaches in order to attract new staff. Of the $30 million investment, $8.6 million will be used to cover new programming, including training for reading coaches, interventions for students who are struggling with reading basics, more after-school reading programs for students living in homeless shelters, training for teachers and superintendents to support coaches, and a new online platform designed to give parents more information about their child's reading progress.
 
Was there any analysis of the efficacy of literacy and math coaches under Children's First?  Has there been any analysis of the impact of the 103 literacy coaches the DOE hired for Districts 17 and 32 schools in Brooklyn,  and Districts 9 and 10 in the Bronx starting in 2016-2017 school year— which supposedly expanded to another 14 districts the following year? Did this show any results?

The hiring was already supposedly expanded to 800 schools this year -- what are the results so far? and how much are we already spending on this initiative?

The WSJ reported that it cost  $75 million as of this school year - plus another $30M would equal more than $100M:

By fall 2018, the city plans to have a so-called universal literacy coach in each of the roughly 800 elementary schools, at an annual cost of $75 million. Education department officials said it was hard to find candidates up to the task, though five teachers applied for each spot. The coaches get professional development for three weeks in the summer and twice monthly after that. 
 
As in the previous attempt to improve results by adding "coaches," this initiative will also likely be ineffectual without a concurrent sharp decrease in class sizes in the early grades.  $100 million  would buy at least 1000 teachers to reduce class size, a reform with proven results.

I also wonder about this "new online platform designed to give parents more information about their child's reading progress"  as described above. How much will it cost, how reliable will it be and what's the evidence for this idea --given how little the online platform ARIS was used by teachers or parents and what a costly boondoggle it turned out to be.

The vast infrastructure described above also reminds one of the increased bureaucracy and professional development systems created for the wrongheaded Renewal school program -- also costing about $100 million per year, with little or no improvement in class size and disappointing results.  Will these millions go down the drain as well?

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