University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Houston: We Have a Solution?

In The View from the OEP on August 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm

This summer, the Arkansas Department of Education released the list of the lowest performing schools in Arkansas -labeled as focus and priority schools. Now that these schools have been singled out, they will be subjected to heavy intervention. Educators and policymakers all over Arkansas have their eyes on these schools and are asking – what’s next? How do we turn around lower performing schools? What works?

Around the country, there are many, many examples of ways to tackle improving low-performing schools. In an OEP policy brief released today, we highlight a select school improvement program in Houston, called the Apollo 20 program.  The Apollo 20 program was implemented in select middle and high schools in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) during the 2010-11 school year, and it was implemented in select elementary schools in the current 2011-12 school year. The Apollo 20 program was developed by Dr. Roland Fryer of Harvard University’s EdLabs. The program is particularly unique in that it is a type of partnership between the charter sector and traditional sector — Dr. Fryer aimed to borrow ideas from high-achieving charter schools and infuse them into Houston’s traditional public schools. The program revolves around a five-pronged reform strategy:

  1. Effective leadership and teachers
  2. More instructional time
  3. Use of data to drive instruction
  4. Intense tutoring, and
  5. A culture of high expectations

Early results of the program show student gains comparable with prominent charter schools in the nation. Read more about this program here.

Coincidentally, Dr. Roland Fryer (the developer of the Apollo 20 program), will be speaking at the University of Arkansas in two weeks.

Dr. Roland Fryer will be giving a speech as a part of the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform Lecturer Series on Friday, September 14. You can read more on his speech and see other guest lecturers visiting the Dept of Ed Reform this year here.

If you want a preview of the entertaining Dr. Fryer, check out his appearance on the Colbert Report here.  It’s worth the five minutes!


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