No Shortcuts to School Reform (Even Technology)

Charter school educators are big on “grit,” that teachable character trait that helps at-risk students persevere to and through college. As a movement, charter schools have learned our own lessons about grit. We started with grand aspirations, to which we still fervently hold, but we also know that progress never comes as fast as one would like. We have learned, as well, that the problems we are working on aren’t solvable with a single tactic or strategy.

I suspect that advocates of blended learning are on that same learning curve. This week, for example, an early evaluation of New York City’s much watched and touted “School of One” initiative found inconsistent results, with no overall effect an academic achievement.

The researchers point out that it’s early, and there were some local and positive effects in certain buildings; the study also shed light on some interesting patterns that may point to refinements. Whatever positive news there is, it’s still bound to be disappointing in the short term for technology adherents and anyone for that matter who is working in the field. For all the promise of blended learning—to customize teaching as never before—we suspect this won’t be the last time its practitioners have to regroup. As charter school pioneers can tell you, even “disruptive” educational reform is going to take a while.

Stay gritty, my friends.