- Controversial "no excuses" policies have contributed to success in urban charter schools, Sarah Cohodes, an assistant professor of education policy at Teachers College at Columbia University, suggests in a new study, "Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap."
- According to the study, charter schools with these policies in place have high academic and behavioral expectations, longer school days and years, more tutoring and teacher observations, and instruction informed by data from frequent assessments.
- Cohodes' study doesn't directly attribute all such policies to success, but she does suggest that the adoption of some urban charter school policies like "no excuses" beyond the charter sector could further close the achievement gap between students of color and their white counterparts.
If the initial idea behind charter schools was to create an environment in which schools had more flexibility to experiment with new approaches to education, it makes sense that any successful practices would then be replicated in non-charter and traditional public schools. So in that sense, Cohodes' study reinforces that purpose.
The "no excuses" approach, however, has been called into question by a number of education experts, including New York University education historian Diane Ravitch and Ken Robinson, the latter of whom recently argued in favor of creativity and critical thinking over the conformity enforced by such an approach during a recent keynote at the FETC conference. Ravitch's criticism, meanwhile, has also focused on the notion that a "no excuses" approach doesn't fully account for the external effects of poverty on students' ability to focus on learning.
Consideringof the success of such an approach alongside its flaws, administrators must ultimately find an appropriate balance is to ensure all educational needs are met.