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Furrey further claimed that computer systems were so poorly prepared for the workload that they crashed the first time tests were administered.
Eaton, the Harvard professor and author, says it's reasonable to assume that simply increasing the number of tests a student takes will result in higher scores without an actual improvement in the student's aptitude.
"It's kind of common sense," she says. "The more you test kids on a similar form of the test, the better they'll end up doing. It's not necessarily a measure of how well they know something."
Though Success for All can give structure to a student's day, Eaton says, it can also hinder more effective teachers by forcing them to adhere to a regimented script.
It will be awhile before we know how well the Success for All students are really doing. Cindy Beacher, hired to oversee the program, says the district is still waiting on the data necessary to paint a complete picture, including scores from the Missouri Assessment Program. If you're a superintendent like Amato, that won't stop you from telling the school board that you've seen a 20 percent increase in reading skills.
Another complication: In April, federal grant reviewers denied the district's request for more than $3 million to expand the program. Their reasons included concerns that the district hadn't gone through a formal process to select Success for All and had provided no data to justify the replacement of existing reading programs.
Amato doesn't worry about complainers who say kids get higher test scores simply by taking more tests.
"So what?" Amato asks. "You practice ball, OK? Baseball. You practice baseball, and you get better at hitting. What's wrong with that?"
Step 4: Alienate Your Staff
Union or no union, if there are any teachers left who don't hate you, do what you can to keep them from getting close to you.
In Hartford and New Orleans, people who saw Amato in action agreed that he wasn't the best at communicating his ideas.
By talking to Amato in person, you'll understand why.
Amato tends to give the impression that he's talking to a naïve child.
The Rev. Scott Meyers, a pastor at Westport Presbyterian Church who is also a member of a group called Friends of Children Learning, likens Amato's management style to accountants trying to tell doctors how to operate.
"Somebody tries to talk to him, and he just looks straight ahead like there's nothing there," board member Simmons says.
Morgan, the union president, has issued several press statements chiding Amato for his inability to retain administrative staff, most notably in human resources.
Amato's spokeswoman, Cynthia Wheeler-Linden, dismisses Morgan's claims, calling them an attempt to gain public support before contract negotiations. Since Amato's arrival, Wheeler-Linden says, the district has had three human-resources directors: Brenda Thomas, who left in December; Anna Fader, who "did not work out," Wheeler-Linden writes in an e-mail to the Pitch; and Michael Ford, who never showed up to work. Don Bell, the associate superintendent of elementary schools, is acting HR director.
"I cannot find any proof of those statements made to you by the teachers union," Wheeler-Linden writes. "What I can tell you is that when any large company experiences a change, leadership change within departments often takes place."
Amato says he's just trying to find the best person for the job.