Extreme Situations …

… call for unique measures.  That’s the point of this Matt Yglesias post on how different theories of the economy deal with massive, unusual crises.  The title is worth quoting: “My Theory’s Great, Except for the Times It Doesn’t Work.”

I may be pushing the limits of pattern recognition with this one, but we make that post’s argument all the time in reference to failing schools.  You might have the best continuous school improvement framework in the world, and it might get results in almost every school where you’ve seen it implemented.  And then, you implement it in a persistently low performing school, and it doesn’t get results.  Your impulse might be to do “more” of that program, or implement it with “greater fidelity.”

The reality, though, is that failing schools are education’s version of the “extreme version of the model that disproves the normal rules.”  In Matt’s words, “There’s nothing absurd or useless per se about a theory that doesn’t work in extreme situations.”

There are plenty of great academic programs and modules that work in most schools, but that doesn’t mean you should be surprised when they don’t get results in failing institutions.

Also, for good measure, here‘s Matt take on the teacher compensation piece that I talked about yesterday.

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