Two recommendations for improving public schools

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation commissioned a report to seek answers to public education from principals and educators. Written by SSA Consultants, the report offers two main recommendations: 1) a system of high-quality, full-time academies for overage and disruptive students; 2)  a system of feed-back circles would allow for two-way communication between those in the central office who make policy decisions and the principals and teachers who implement them. 

Read the Report

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY : Improving public education requires that education reform organizations, civic leaders and policymakers focus their efforts on a few priority issues.

Priority issues are ones that are important to those with first-hand experience, shown by research to impact student achievement, and within a group’s locus of control. They should also be “root issues” whose solution has the potential to impact many other issues.

To identify these priority issues, principals and teachers from around the state convened at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to discuss the factors that impact student achievement.

Four major issues emerged from these discussions – teacher quality, the overage student population, parent involvement and student motivation.  

Two of these issues—teacher quality and the overage student population—are supported by research as having an impact on student achievement, and they are also within our “locus of control.”

They are also root issues in that many other issues stem from these problems, including parent involvement and student motivation. To address the issues of teacher quality and the overage population, two ideas are proposed.

First, a system of high-quality, full-time academies for overage and disruptive students would allow these students to learn in a setting that fits their needs, while allowing teachers and principals in regular public schools to do their jobs without being consumed by discipline issues. Furthermore, these schools would make it easier for students in traditional public schools to learn without the distraction of older and/or disruptive peers.

Second, a system of feed-back circles would allow for two-way communication between those in the central office who make policy decisions and the principals and teachers who implement them. This would allow those with first-hand experience to discuss important issues with people who have the ability to address them. In turn, these circles would alleviate the deep-seated distrust of authority that was palpable in the round-table discussions and that prevents the system from functioning as well as it could.