LANSING, Mich. — The head of school turnaround efforts in Louisiana told state legislators Monday that six proven ways to improve failing schools are: early intervention, more time in school, alternative teacher certification, school choice, technology upgrades and data-based instructional management, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

Paul Vallas, superintendent of the post-Katrina Louisiana School Recovery District, testified and took questions for three hours before House Education Committee members, according to MIRS.

The committee currently is considering a package of bills that would allow the state to identify and restructure failing schools in Michigan through a "reform officer," MIRS reported.

One bill would allow a new charter school to be placed within five miles of a failing public school. Vallas said that giving parents choices among schools, but also giving students choices within schools — through online courses, work-study and dual enrollment — are key to reform, according to MIRS. Work-study tends to stem dropout rates by giving students a financial incentive to stay in school, he said.

He also said that states that limit charter growth are unlikely to be picked for extra stimulus funding and that alternative certification expands the teacher talent pool, MIRS reported.

House Bills 4787 and 4788 will be addressed again during another House committee meeting Thursday, according to MIRS.

SOURCE:
Michigan Information & Research Service Capitol Capsule, "Focus on Turning Failing Schools Around,"  May 5, 2009 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "Accountability in education requires choice and competition,"  Sept. 21, 2001

Michigan Votes, "House Bill 4787, 4788 (Authorize failing school 'turnaround schools'),"  April 2, 2009

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