Two ideas govern us every day:
Obsessive Attention to Detail and Jaw-dropping Results. Firstly and most importantly, the work we do with our students and our teacher trainees has to be the best in the country, as far as we can measure it. We take this view literally, and we obsess over details of implementation every hour of every day. Our schools have to generate four-year college completion results that are better than any other US public school serving low-income students. And our graduate school has to produce novice teachers who are better than all other novice teachers in the US at generating measurable achievement gains for low-income students.
Genuinely Inventive Solutions to Important Problems. Secondly, our work has to produce important ideas and practices that can travel and matter broadly to reform. In this sense, Match Education is a research and development platform for long-term reform. We are part of a public school sector that educates 50 million students. In this context, we can never run a large number of schools, train a large number of teachers, or otherwise directly reach a large number of families and students. What our work invariably lacks in absolute size it has to compensate for in intellectual power and reform relevance. Our inventions have to be compelling enough to matter, over time. They have to influence the behavior of our allies and, where we have no allies, lend courage to the political fight for reform by proving what is possible.
If we succeed in this mindset – if we produce outcomes for students and teachers that shock the status quo and if we generate genuinely inventive solutions to important practical problems – then our work will matter over time.
Does our work matter generally? Are we part of some larger dynamic for full and lasting reform? Most days, we don’t really think about that. We just do our work. We are educators first. Reformers second. But when we do pick up our heads and look out across the country, here is how we see it:
Local Reform. Locally, our schools are part of a drive to create in Boston the highest quality, sizable city charter school sector in the US, an effort that might influence the pace and quality of district reform in Boston. We help that effort by expanding our schools and by supplying teachers to our sister charters in town. Over the next ten years, charter schools will expand in Boston to serve approximately 18% of public school students.
National Reform. Nationally, our work factors in reform in two ways. First of all, we are part of a small crowd on the edge of the status quo that produces outcomes (for students and for teachers) that defy conventional wisdom. By producing these results, we help reformers who reject incremental, cautious change. We help them because they can point to our work as evidence of what could be. Second, our work is rich in practical innovations. Some of these innovations (like our program for high-dosage tutoring) are established, and some of them (like our recently launched school for English Language Learners and our emerging work on teacher training) need more time to mature before we seek to export them. Over time – as friendly reformers come asking and as we build out our Match Export work – our work will be adopted broadly by district schools, charter networks, graduate schools of education, and policy makers.