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Math Achievement Rises in GE Program Districts

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

A districtwide school improvement program that incorporates corporate management practices and goal-setting to improve education seems to be boosting student achievement in four districts that have been using it for at least four years, according to a new report from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

In Jefferson County, Ky., supported by the GE Foundation since the 2005-06 school year, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Stamford Conn., both supported since the 2006-07 school year, student achievement gains on end-of-year performance tests in mathematics corresponded with the introduction of the GE Foundation's Developing Futures in Education program, the study found. In Erie, Pa., where GE support began a little later, in the 2007-08 school year, student performance stabilized after prior downward trends in performance.

"The goal was not to make a change to a single class or school, but to improve student achievement outcomes in entire districts," said Bob Corcoran, the president of the GE Foundation, based out of Fairfield, Conn. (A word of disclosure: The foundation also underwrites coverage of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the common assessments in Education Week.)

When analyzing the program's outcomes, the CPRE researchers examined testing and school demographic data in each district for a period of up to ten years.

Since 2005, GE has devoted over $200 million to its Developing Futures in Education program, which applies GE business practices to district operations. The initiative is currently active in seven districts across the nation that have a large number of GE employees.

Besides developing districts' internal management capacity, the program also facilitates a collaborative, goal-setting process involving the school board, teacher organizations, and district leaders and provides materials for district science and mathematics initiatives. While GE worked with each district to develop a unique plan for education gains, the districts are required to meet the improvement standards they set for themselves. Each district underwent quarterly assessments before they could qualify for the next round of GE grant funds.

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