Toward an Understanding of School Reconstitution as a Strategy to Educate Students Placed at Risk
HEINRICH MINTROp> University of Maryland, College Park
A new get-tough attitude toward habitually low-performing schools has taken hold in recent years as policymakers have raised the stakes in their jurisdictions' accountability systems. School reconstitution is one of these high-stakes accountability measures. Reconstitution is also a part of U. S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley's action agenda. In this chapter, I explore how reconstitution policies might affect teachers'motivation to increase their performance as educators serving in schools with large concentrations of students placed at risk. I base my exploration both on theoretical models that aid in the conceptualization of salient questions and on empirical findings from the first year of a 3-year study that illustrate key theoretical and policy issues. The aim of the chapter is to contribute to an incipient discussion about the role of reconstitution policies in educational reform.
A new "no excuses era" of school reform has dawned, according to Hugh Price, president of the Urban League:
There are no longer any excuses for the failure of inner-city students to achieve. The landscape of urban public education is dotted with teachers, classrooms, and even entire schools that deliver the goods. The needed innovations have been designed and field-tested, and are now ready for mass market. ( Price, 1997)
The urgency for improvement contrasts with the persistent reality of failing