We posed three questions to the author. Here’s what she said:

1. What led you to do this research?

No-excuses charter schools feature extended instructional time, frequent formative testing, and a highly structured and widely criticized disciplinary system. They are boosting achievement at unprecedented levels. But missing from this conversation is what everyday life looks like inside these controversial urban schools. I went inside one school—for 18 months—to understand what success looks and feels like on the ground.

2. What should everybody know about what you found?

I found that success creates a paradox. No-excuses schools, while aiming to prepare students academically for college, may fail to provide students with the social and behavioral skills they need to be successful in college. Colleges expect students to be independent—to do their homework, to go to office hours, to ask for help—yet no-excuses schools reward compliance and orderliness. Students thus do not feel trusted to make decisions or able to speak up for themselves. No-excuses school leaders know this but they feel stuck between two aims—the need to establish order to promote learning, and the need to prepare students to eventually manage their own freedoms.

3. What are you going to do next on this topic?

I’m now looking at teachers’ experiences inside no-excuses schools. No-excuses schools believe that effective teachers can be created; all teachers can learn to “Teach Like a Champion.” Yet these schools have high rates of teacher turnover. How do teachers’ own experiences, attitudes, and personalities influence their ability to adapt to a new disciplinary role? Can schools create successful teachers, or do they need a certain type of raw material to mold?

You can read the full article here:

Golann, J. W. 2015. The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses SchoolSociology of Education.