Most of the discussion regarding school quality focused on negative aspects. Participants shared their belief that most schools are not doing a great job of educating children. They commented on the low academic performance on state tests, and how frequently students are multiple grade levels behind on their reading proficiency. In general, people thought that school quality was much lower at the middle and high school levels than at the elementary school level.
One of the prevailing sentiments that we heard from participants across the city is that school quality varies tremendously. Further, we heard that the difference between the top performing schools and those at the bottom is large, and that there is no middle ground – many participants identified schools as either excellent or horrible. A number of participants also shared their perception that many of the high performing schools are in the most affluent parts of the city.
In thinking about how to increase school quality in the district, participants suggested a goal of ensuring that every neighborhood has quality schools. Rather than further consolidating high performing schools in certain areas of the city, respondents advocated for a scenario where every child in the city has access to great schools right in their neighborhood.