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Teacher-Run Schools Gaining Popularity
posted by: Alix | January 04, 2011, 03:26 PM   

A public charter school in St. Paul, Minnesota has been gaining national attention for its innovative vision and spin on learning. The Avalon School is a teacher-run school with no administrators, secretaries or even librarians. This school and others like it have been gaining steam as a means to challenge the classic public school environment, and according to a new study, are producing results.

Interestingly enough, the school also gives students added responsibilities. Students are allowed to design their own curriculum and often grade themselves with the help of their peers.

According to a recent study by an education reform scholar, Avalon is experiencing positive gains. "Teacher-run schools are delightful islands, freed from many of the battles that rage around conventional public schools," wrote Charles Taylor Kerchner, a professor at Claremont Graduate University in California and author of the study.

Kerchner spent significant time at Avalon, studying test results and interviewing teachers and students at length. He found that in addition to unprecedented support of parents, Avalon students scored higher than the state average on reading scores, the ACT and SAT and sent a significant amount of graduates to college.

The key difference at teacher-run schools is governance. As public charters, they operate without traditional school board oversight and bureaucracy. The teachers operate as a producer cooperative, where they collaborate with each other to establish lesson plans and innovative approaches to learning.

"We're the ones most connected to the kids," explained Avalon teacher Carrie Bakken. "The people that are most connected to the kids should be making the decisions."

The school's curriculum is project-based where students meet state learning standards by completing term-length projects and logging hours.

"I like that we're able to work at our own pace and take control of our education," highlighted one Avalon School student.

Certainly, experiments in governance, structure, and learning are the key to finding what works in education. Schools like Avalon will pave the way for future experiments in shaking up traditional school environments.

What do you think of teacher-run schools?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
A hybrid of sorts?
written by Rookie NW FL, January 04, 2011

This seems like a great place to work. One of the satisfiers (good salary, positive work conditions, etc.) is the ability to have ownership in your own work, something that public schools don't offer. A school like this is a marriage of public and charter schools.

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