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ERIC Number: ED568857
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Apr
Pages: 232
Abstractor: ERIC
ISBN: 978-1-61250-908-2
When School Policies Backfire: How Well-Intended Measures Can Harm Our Most Vulnerable Students
Gottfried, Michael A., Ed.; Conchas, Gilberto Q., Ed.
Harvard Education Press
Like medical practitioners, educators share the moral obligation to "first, do no harm." But as this provocative volume shows, education policies do not always live up to this ideal, especially policies intended to help our most vulnerable students. "When School Policies Backfire" draws our attention to education policies designed to help disadvantaged students that instead had the perverse effect of harming them by exacerbating the very problems they were intended to solve. The rigorous case studies that make up the book are contributed by a diverse group of scholars with different methodological approaches. The cases address important areas of education reform, from literacy and technology programs to school closings, school choice, and accountability policies. Each case shows how and why a particular program backfired. Taken together, they present a wide-ranging critique of the kinds of policies that compose the cornerstones of current education reform efforts. Many books have examined policies that fall short of achieving their goals, or that result in unintended consequences. But few have documented the effects of policies whose failures have been so spectacular. "When School Policies Backfire" is a sobering reminder of the responsibility that policy makers and researchers bear for the well-being of our most vulnerable students. Contents include the Foreword (by Amanda Datnow), and an Introduction: When Good Policies Go Bad (Michael A. Gottfried, Gilberto Q. Conchas, Cameron Sublett, and Odelia Simon), followed by six chapters: (1) When Targeted Interventions Backfire: How a Middle School Literacy Intervention Created Achievement Gaps (Shaun M. Dougherty); (2) When Accountability Policies Backfire: Why Summer Learning Loss Affects Student Test Scores (Andrew McEachin and Allison Atteberry); (3) When Minimum Grading Policies Backfire: Who Decides Whether to Let Students Fail? (Martha Abele Mac Iver); (4) When School Closures Backfire: What Happened to the Students at Jefferson High School? (Matthew N. Gaertner, Ben Kirshner, and Kristen M. Pozzoboni); (5) When School Choice Policies Backfire: Why New Options for Parents Can Become New Barriers to Equity (Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj); and (6) When Technology Programs Backfire: How One Laptop per Child Taught Birmingham a "Costly Lesson" (Morgan G. Ames, Mark Warschauer, and Shelia R. Cotton). The book closes with the conclusion: What Can We Learn from Policy Backfire? (Michael A. Gottfried, Gilberto Q. Conchas, Odelia Simon, and Cameron Sublett). Also included are sections on Notes, About the Editors, About the Contributors, and an Index.
Harvard Education Press. 8 Story Street First Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 888-437-1437; Tel: 617-495-3432; Fax: 978-348-1233; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Books; Collected Works - General
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Harvard University, Graduate School of Education