That’s the mantra in the Long Beach school district, according to a new McKinsey report that named the school district — and the Oakland-based charter management organization, Aspire Public Schools — among the 20 most-improved school systems in the world.
Long Beach is an ethnically diverse, high-poverty school district in a California port city, just like Oakland. Unlike Oakland, it’s had stable leadership for years, under a superintendent — in his ninth year — who once attended school in the district and later returned to be a teacher, principal and administrator.
If you have a chance to read McKinsey’s two-page case study on the Long Beach school district’s teacher preparation, training and coaching strategies, I’d love to hear how they compare to your experience in Oakland. It’s on pages 48-50 (link here).
Two things that caught my attention:
1) Long Beach recruits 80 percent of its teachers from the education school at Cal State Long Beach. To prepare them for “the Long Beach way,” administrators from the curriculum department actually teach the method classes.
2) An elementary school math teacher, inspired by his aunt’s experience teaching in Singapore, structured his lessons in a similar way, yielding huge test score gains. The district noticed and piloted his strategy in other classrooms. It reminded me of Si Swun math, a method used in Oakland that has produced similarly strong results.
Hey, wait! That teacher was Si Swun! The implementation of his strategy cost OUSD more than $2 million. I wonder how Long Beach’s bill compared, and if there are any Si Swuns in Oakland right now, whose masterful teaching strategies have — so far — remained in one classroom.
Do you know of any?