via Washington Monthly: Dropout Factories?

Along with its yearly ranking of America’s colleges and universities, Ben Miller and Phuong Ly at the Washington Monthly write about the poorest performing schools in their survey, the so-called “Dropout Factories.”  There is certainly an assumption here that we can diagnose the mismanagement of schools by doing cross-comparisons between schools with similar student profiles.  I wonder whether this is true, and what kinds of solutions might be possible.  One of the commenters makes the following observation:

Suggesting that funding should be tied to performance is a facile and superficial response. Other than that, good article.

This suggestion suffers from the same problem as No Child Left Behind in K-12 — it makes no sense to take the schools with the biggest problems and add to those problems by slashing their budgets. If the problem is a failure of management, how is budget reduction while leaving the same management in place going to solve it?

It seems to me a better answer is a form of receivership — seize control of the institution and spend MORE money on it, installing an academic turnaround specialist such as one of those you identified and replacing the board of trustees with competent overseers. Incompetent management is not going to make itself competent simply because you cut their budget.

DM

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