A Primer on America’s Schools

How can America get off the treadmill of perpetual reform and succeed in improving its schools? There is no easy answer. But one requirement is surely fundamental: policymakers must know what to do. They must have good ideas that are well supported by theory and evidence, and they must know how to put these ideas into action. As things now stand, this requirement has not been met. In the practice of school reform, the ideas that find their way into policy— about lowering class size, for instance, or putting teachers through a more rigorous credentialing process, or spending more money—are popular for reasons that have nothing to do with their true efficacy.

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