August 24, 2006

Replicating High-Performing Public Schools: Lessons from the Field

What are experienced school developers doing to maintain academic quality and financial sustainability as they expand?

By: Don Howard, Kimberly Wicoff

As a growing number of schools demonstrate that public education can work for every student, the question is no longer, “Can we create schools that will achieve outstanding results for all students?” but rather, “How can we replicate schools that we know can work, without sacrificing quality outcomes and within the constraints of the existing funding environment?” In the past few years, Bridgespan has had the privilege of working with a number of school developers who are tackling the challenges of replication. This set of short papers highlights some of the practical lessons they and we are learning in our work together: identifying the absolute “must-haves” in their education model to promote quality throughout the network; making small changes in school or class size or in their approach to opening new schools to produce prudent cost savings; setting up the central office in a manner that sustains quality without breaking the bank; and clustering schools geographically to increase not only efficiency and but also effectiveness.

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