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School Reform
       In the scientific perspective, there are certain conditions that are necessary to be able to draw meaningful conclusions. There should be only one independent variable and one dependent variable. This allows one to measure effect that one variable has upon the other. In addition, the experiment has to run long enough to get meaningful data before trying to draw any true conclusions.
       There must be enough valid data before drawing conclusions from such observations. In addition, as Richard Feynman said in “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” (pg. 341): “…if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid – not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked – to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.”
       A major problem in school reform is that it is not restricted in this manner. Many reform projects are running simultaneously. There are too many variables and this makes it impossible to judge what impact each is having. The fact that the timing of the different projects also overlap in a random manner further complicates drawing meaningful conclusions regarding any data that are collected.
       Another factor that negatively influences academic reform is that it rarely considers all of the factors that play a role regarding the issue of concern. As Anne C. Lewis noted in an article in Phi Delta Kappan (Feb. 2008): “Until school reformers acknowledge the importance of nonschool influences, they will keep on imposing policies that are unfair to teachers and principals and ignoring policies that could make a difference….A compilation of statistical evidence about influences on learning that begin before a child even enters school recently made headlines….”
       Yet one more important aspect that should be considered is that local issues have a major impact on what is going on in a school. Reform that works in one school has little chance of truly working at another site unless modifications are made to match that community and its peculiar properties. In addition, the participating community – teachers, students, parents, administrators and local business and government – need to buy in. If not, the reform will almost certainly fail, as it will not be given the support and time necessary to let it succeed.
       Good school reform has to meet the needs of the local community. All parties need to understand what is going on and need to be willing to give it a true chance to succeed. In addition, it must be given sufficient time to let it be tested and tweaked so that it has a chance to have the decided effect. If all of these factors apply, there is a chance that good results may follow. Unfortunately, it is a rare case when reform meets these criteria.
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