Can schools meet the promise of continuous improvement? 

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MARK A. ELGART (; @MarkElgart) is president and CEO of AdvancED, Alpharetta, Ga.  


  • Rob Bligh

    If you had not reprinted Mark A. Elgart’s white paper “Can schools meet the promise of continuous improvement?” I probably would not have seen it. Thank you.

    When held up to the experience of the last 52 years of uniformly futile school improvement efforts, there is no reason to expect positive results from any new initiative to “improve” schools. Any actual variation in “quality” of our K-12 schools is not the problem. The variation in the quality of our K-12 students is.

    A child who is treated by parents like a treasure between conception and the first day of kindergarten nearly always succeeds in school and in life. A child who is treated like an annoyance during those fist 50,000 hours nearly always enters kindergarten badly behind and almost never catches up. Both of these very strong tendencies are immune to the relative “quality” of the schools such students attend.

    Consider four facts: (1) K-12 schools cannot be “social hospitals” that can heal the developmental wounds inflicted by an inadequate family life. (2) No school can produce better students than it enrolls. (3) Educators cannot change the fundamental nature of their students. (4) If it were otherwise, admission to medical schools would be conducted by lottery.

    American children spend at least 91 percent of each childhood someplace other than in school. Nothing we have learned during the last 52 years of foolish and futile “school reform” has provided any reason to believe that educators will ever be able to heal the developmental damage inflicted on children by being forced to live in an inadequate household. Students are not the customers of education; they are the raw material. The quality of any finished product is limited by the quality of the raw material irrespective of the skill of the artisan.

    The general acceptance of “school improvement” nonsense is encouraged by the insistent failure of educators to speak the truth about the disproportionate academic failure of badly raised children. Educators, especially administrators, should accept the duty to speak loudly, publicly and often about those facts. Their failure to do so fertilizes foolishness and does nothing to benefit innocent children.

  • Rumaisa Qadri

    Thanks a lot for sharing this.
    It’s so helpful for the schools to understand the continuous improvement.
    I appreciate.

  • Ghina albadawi

    It’s very interesting, captures the essence of continuous improvement, and sets a roadmap for schools.

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