Principi utili per un sistema di scuole autonome : l’incidenza della variabile "dimensione delle scuole e delle classi" nell’organizzazione e nel funzionamento di un istituto.

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La variabile determinante per avere buone scuole : l’ organizzazione

Come strutturare una rete di scuole autonome ? La dimensione delle scuole e delle classi (fin quando ci saranno) conta ! Come si dovrebbero decentralizzare le scuole per gestirle in modo ottimale ? La battaglia non si svolge sul terreno dei programmi.

The Secret of TSL : The Revolutionary Discovery that Raises School Performance

William G. Ouchi
Simon & Schuster
U.C.L.A. business professor Bill Ouchi has authored another valuable contribution to the education-reform literature. "TSL" stands for "total student load" and refers to the number of students that a teacher is responsible for and also to the number of students in a school.

He contends, plausibly enough, that small schools are easier to lead and manage than big ones and that they’re more likely to be managed successfully by principals who are competent but not necessarily superstar executives.

He also contends, again plausibly, that a teacher responsible over the course of a day or week for 80 or so students is far more effective with them than one who must contend with twice that number.

But this useful book isn’t ultimately about class or school size. Befitting a scholar of management, it’s really about effective school and district organization.

He sets out five "pillars of school empowerment" and "four freedoms" that actually give principals the capacity to lead their schools. Along the way, he does an admirable job of explaining how districts should be decentralized and why they work better when they are.

Taken seriously, Ouchi’s analysis would do important good for American K-12 education, particularly in big cities and large districts. It’s not the whole story, however. Important as it is, for example, for schools to control their curriculum, that doesn’t get us very far if it’s a loopy, flabby, trendy or ineffectual curriculum, or one taught by instructors who don’t know their stuff. Nor must one buy Ouchi’s assumption that districts are forever. Is it not possible that the geographically-based district itself is an obsolete management structure and that U.S. education would be better off with a direct relationship between states and a host of fully empowered charter-like schools, CMOs, EMOs, and other operators, some of them virtual, some of them national ? Still, as long as we have the structure we have, wise policymakers and state and district leaders would do well to heed Bill Ouchi’s findings and sage advice. You can find the book here.


Publisher presentation :

In his previous book, Making Schools Work, William G. Ouchi reported on school decentralization, aided by a grant from the National Science Foundation. He found that when principals were given autonomy over their schools, the performance of those schools improved measurably. Picking up where that book left off, The Secret of TSL explains what it is that autonomous principals do to improve their schools. Drawing on the author’s study of 442 schools in eight urban school districts, The Secret of TSL demonstrates that there is a direct correlation between how much control a principal has over his or her budget and how much that school’s student performance rises. School organization reform lone produces a more potent improvement in student performance than any other single factor.

When principals control their budgets, they tailor their expenses to fit their schools, and they invariably hire more teachers. With fewer students to teach, teachers are able to develop a stronger and more personal relationship with their students. TSL, or Total Student Load — that is, the number of papers a teacher must grade and the number of students he or she must get to know each term — declines, and student performance, as measured by federally mandated tests, improves, often substantially. TSL is the key to improved student performance.

The school districts that Ouchi studied for this book include Boston, New York, Chicago, St. Paul, Houston, San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle. The Secret of TSL analyzes school performance in each of these cities and shows why the districts that wholeheartedly embraced organizational reform have outperformed those that took more tentative steps.