Fort Worth is at Leading Edge of School Reform

Fort Worth is one of nation’s best cities for school reform, according to a study released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

The study’s authors, including Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, anticipated exciting reforms in New York, Denver, Washington and New Orleans.  But, they said, unexpected results were found in cities such as Austin, Jacksonville and Fort Worth.

“… not everybody would have predicted that … Fort Worth would turn out to be [one of the] hotbeds of edupreneurship,” the study says, using a coined phrase combining education and entrepreneurship.

The Fordham study evaluates how welcoming 30 American cities—the 25 largest and five smaller “hotspots”—are to “nontraditional” problem-solvers and solutions.  They looked at six areas: human capital, financial capital, charter environment, quality control, district environment and municipal environment.  Rankings were based on how well a combination of these factors was working to build an “educational ecosystem” conducive to positive results.

The report praises Superintendent Melody Johnson for making “great strides” in the past five years.  It noted that “quality control in FWISD has taken on increased significance” and “the district uses data to make real-time adjustments in its policies and programs.”

“Systemic change is heading in the right direction in Fort Worth,” it concludes.

“Many districts around the country are making tremendous, steady progress, sometimes against great odds.  We’re proud of the progress made in FWISD over the last five years,” said Dr. Johnson. “We have built strong curriculum, technology, professional learning opportunities and support infrastructures for our teachers and students.  Mostly, we have invested in our educators.  It is in the classroom where the magic happens every day, but it requires a strong leaders at all levels and great teams supporting them.”   
 
The report says “no one should expect instantaneous results.”

“I am very pleased at the acknowledgment that true, systemic change doesn’t happen overnight,” Dr. Johnson said. “After all, it took the auto industry 12 years to recover – and they had control over most of the variables.  In education, many people control the inputs, but educators are the only ones held accountable for the outputs.”