I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap

I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap

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by M. Night Shyamalan
     
 

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In this vital new book, the famed filmmaker tells how his passion for education reform led him to learn that there are five tested, indispensable keys to transforming America’s underperforming schools.

I Got Schooled offers a look at America’s educational achievement gap that could only have come from an outsider.

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Overview

In this vital new book, the famed filmmaker tells how his passion for education reform led him to learn that there are five tested, indispensable keys to transforming America’s underperforming schools.

I Got Schooled offers a look at America’s educational achievement gap that could only have come from an outsider.

Famed director M. Night Shyamalan has long had a serious interest in education. The founda­tion he and his wife started once gave college scholarships to promising inner-city students, but Shyamalan realized that these scholarships did nothing to improve education for all the other students in under-performing schools. When he learned that some schools were succeeding with similar student populations, he traveled across the country to find out how they did this and whether these schools had something in common. He eventually learned that there are five keys to closing America’s achievement gap. But just as we must do several things to maintain good health— eat the right foods, exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep—so too must we use all five keys to turn around our lowest-performing schools.

These five keys are used by all the schools that are succeeding, and no schools are succeeding without them. Before he discovered them, Shyamalan investigated some popular reform ideas that proved to be dead ends, such as smaller class size, truculent unions, and merit pay for teachers. He found that the biggest obstacle to school reform is cognitive biases: too many would-be reformers have committed themselves to false solutions.

This is a deeply personal book by an unbiased observer determined to find out what works and why so that we as a nation can fulfill our obliga­tion to give every student an opportunity for a good education.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
America’s “educational apartheid”—the achievement gap between high- and low-income students—weighs heavily on filmmaker Shyamalan (writer and director of The Sixth Sense). For his first book, he attends a think-tank meeting on the subject and then teams up with an education researcher to visit schools, speak with researchers, and collect evidence on the traits that make a school successful. In addition to the “five keys” (longer hours, small schools, data-driven instruction, school leaders, best teachers), the book contains a few surprises. Leading schools employ principals who monitor teachers in the classroom and free teachers from the bureaucratic demands typical of less successful schools. Further, student-achievement assessments occur more frequently throughout the school year and are calibrated so that teachers receive more detailed feedback about their students’ needs. Even something as simple as identifying ineffective teachers and eliminating them from the system sooner could have staggering results, as ineffective teacher are extremely harmful to struggling students. The book’s conversational tone and appealing humor yields an engaging narrative of one Hollywood director’s struggle to find out what works in the best schools, and how we can apply those insights to the rest. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME. (Sept.)
Mike Feinberg
“The ed reform graveyard from the past few decades is filled with quick fixes and gimmicks. Shyamalan’s journey of discovery affirms there are no shortcuts if our country is going to ensure all children have access to a great education, and his five keys for any school’s success focus on the essential ingredients.”
Cami Anderson
“Schools on the same block with similar students can post radically different results. I Got Schooled is evocative and will encourage educators and non-educators to debate the keys to great schools. A must-read given educational excellence for all students is the key to unlocking our country’s potential.”
Geoffrey Canada
“It’s great to have M. Night Shyamalan as a new ally in the fight to transform our calcified public-education system. Like the born storyteller he is, Shyamalan has unraveled the myths of our education system and spun a clear and compelling case for what we need to do. This is a must-read for anyone concerned about our country’s kids and our country’s future.”
NPR.org - John Wilwol
"Shyamalan is smart and sincere, and his innovative ideas are unbound by the educational establishment."
Philadelphia CityPaper - Emily Guendelsberger
"Shyamalan’s conclusions (centered around lots of training, better data analysis and a reliable, observation-based method of locating and firing bad teachers) . . . are argued with persuasive data and a surprising sense of optimism."
Kirkus Reviews
Filmmaker Shyamalan makes his nonfiction debut with this engaging presentation of the results of his research into methods for closing America's education gap. The author begins with his visits to two Philadelphia high schools: the top-performing magnet school Masterman and its neighbor Overbrook, where only 54 percent of students got their diplomas. These differences prompted Shyamalan to begin an extensive investigation of common beliefs about the problems with American education and how they can be fixed. He interviewed experts nationwide and toured schools where leading-edge work is being done. Many believe that smaller class sizes are a key to success; others take up the cause of parental choice and vouchers. The state of Tennessee's STAR program has been promoting smaller class sizes since the 1980s, while Milwaukee has been sponsoring voucher-paid programs, which increase parental choice about which school their children attend. Shyamalan finds evidence that the Tennessee program "has a minimal positive result," while the biggest measured effect of the Milwaukee program has been on parental satisfaction, which Shyamalan considers "a poor proxy for improved student performance." Two of the five keys the author found are tied to fostering the positive impact of good teachers. The author claims that those who defend the concept of tenure have the problem "completely upside down." It is not possible to know what kind of teacher someone is going to be until they have been on the job for at least two to three years. The tenure system can therefore serve to protect the positions of bad teachers whose earlier departures would strengthen the longer-term contributions better teachers can make. The author also wants principals to be engaged directly in improving classroom quality. A lively, provocative contribution from an outsider with his own way of addressing the problem.
Library Journal
While scouting locations in Philadelphia, director/screenwriter/producer Shyamalan was shocked at the difference between two schools he visited—one student-friendly and the other with barred windows and locked classroom doors—and became involved in educational reform. Drawing on consultations with experts, he cites 50 high-achieving schools in poor neighborhoods and explains what they have in common. Here's hoping the author's reputation will bring readers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476716459
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
09/10/2013
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
738,235
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

M. Night Shyamalan—screenwriter, director, and producer—has captured the attention of audiences around the world with his original films for almost two decades. His films include The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, The Village, and The Happening. He and his wife, Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, cofounded the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, dedicated to helping empower individuals.

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