Does Size Matter? The Role of Small High Schools in Reforming Public Education
Over the past two decades, many urban school districts have restructured large, traditional high schools into smaller learning communities. The idea behind this movement is that small schools provide a more personalized learning environment that allows teachers to more effectively address the multi-faceted needs of disadvantaged students. Despite mixed evidence on the efficacy of such reforms in practice, Detroit and other high-poverty districts have pressed forward with the creation of smaller high schools. A recent study of small high schools in NYC shows positive results, but also raises additional questions about small schools. In this panel, speakers will discuss the new results of the NYC study as well as the ongoing efforts among the small school community in the Detroit area.
Howard S. Bloom has spent the past 30 + years teaching evaluation research, conducting evaluation research, and helping others to do evaluation research. Since 1999, he has been Chief Social Scientist for MDRC, where he has the lead role in developing and applying new research designs for measuring the effects of social and educational programs. For many years before coming to MDRC, Dr. Bloom taught research methods, program evaluation and applied statistics at Harvard University and New York University. He is currently principal investigator of a study of the impacts of 105 new small high schools of choice in New York City based on a large naturally-occurring randomized experiment; co-principal investigator of a multi-site group-randomized study of the effects of socio-emotional interventions for children in Head Start programs; co-principal Investigator of a grant to improve the design and analysis of group-randomized studies; and co-principal investigator of three grants exploring methodological issues in the use of regression discontinuity analysis and interrupted time-series analysis to evaluate education programs.
Brian Jacob is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy, Professor of Economics, and Director of the Center on Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an Executive Committee Member of the National Poverty Center. He has previously served as a policy analyst in the NYC Mayor's Office and taught middle school in East Harlem. His primary fields of interest are labor economics, program evaluation, and the economics of education. His current research focuses on urban school reform and teacher labor markets. In recent work, he has examined school choice, education accountability programs, housing vouchers, and teacher labor markets.
Johnathon Matthews has served as principal in the Cody High School Complex in Detroit since July of 2008. Prior to that, he was the assistant principal at Mumford High School for three years, and Social Studies curriculum leader and teacher for eight years at Murray Wright High School. Johnathon was raised in Detroit, where he graduated from Renaissance High School in 1991. It was at Eastern Michigan University that he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science as well as his Secondary Education Certification in a double major program. He completed his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership in 1998 at Wayne State University. Johnathon is currently leading the Small Schools Redesign Initiative for the Cody High School complex of the Detroit Public Schools. He has developed The Academy of Public Leadership as one of four new small schools at the Cody High School complex.
Michael F. Tenbusch is the Vice President for Educational Preparedness at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. A native Detroiter, he has devoted his career to making the city a better place to be a child and to raise a family. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Think Detroit, a non-profit organization dedicated to building character in children through sports and leadership development. Think Detroit was awarded Crain's Detroit Business's 'Best Managed Non-Profit' under his leadership and was hailed by Laura Bush as a model organization for her national initiative to help America's youth. Mike served on the Board of Education for Detroit Public Schools for two years, and then served for two years as the Chief Operations Officer at University Preparatory Academy, a K-12 charter school district in Detroit that graduates 90% of its students. Convinced that Detroit needed better high school options for young people, Mike researched and analyzed national best practices as a consultant to the Skillman Foundation. His work has shaped the United Way's goal of turning around all the high schools in Southeastern Michigan with graduation rates of less than 60%. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Mike is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and a former law clerk for the Honorable John Feikens in U.S. District Court. He has enjoyed fellowships with Echoing Green and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.