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Schooled: The Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  228 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
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.When he was scouting locations for a film, M. Night Shyamalan spent time in two Philadelphia-area schools—one a welcoming institution, the other a building with metal detecto ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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Jul 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I’ve spent my entire career working in education, most of which was spent in education reform. Even more specifically, I spent most of my career in education research, so I am familiar with not only the education space, but also what the data says about as many different aspects of education and education reform as you can imagine: class size, charter schools, teacher effectiveness, merit pay programs, et al. This book by Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan details his thoughts about how the nation can ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, education, den
I enjoyed that this author came to the problem -- and it is a huge one -- of how to successfully educate our children here in the United States without the usual biases one way or the other. Although I myself am a firm believer in the fact that our system needs to be seriously overhauled to get the job done, I like that M. Night Shyamalan approached the problem not as an advocate, but as an innocent setting himself down to explore and learn. For four years, he and the team he hired through his f ...more
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was an easy to digest book about education policy. I think that some good points are made and I think this is an honest attempt to do some good. My problems with the book have to do with some of the people, cities, studies, and schools that are referenced. They are mentioned without context. Michelle Rhee is mentioned and nothing about how she's got that black cloud over her because of the testing scandals and public firings of professionals that occurred under her watch. Bill Gates is disc ...more
" I Got Schooled" has some interesting points. I agree with the five keys to success
1. Remove Roadblock teachers
2. Implement the right balance of leadership
3. Provide feedback to the teacher (and the students)
4. Smaller schools
5. More time in school

I find it interesting that there is no component about parent responsibility. However, "more time in school" removes that component, I guess. Depending upon how much more time in school we are working towards - 12 hours per day, Saturday classes and/o
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a most fascinating book. Its really awesome as it fills in a ton of blanks in the world of contemporary education policy. As an engineer, I found the huge emphasis on prior research to be quite valuable... soundbite backstories are presented such that they make sense, rather than appearing as out of the air woo.

For example, the Bill Gates soundbite that class sizes don't matter seems screwball. Pretty much everyone knows that its near impossible to beat the performance of a 1:1 student t
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't say enough good things about this book. I checked it out from the library, but now I'm buying my own copy so I can make notes in it. Yes, I'm a librarian who occasionally says it is okay to write in books (if you own them). Shyamalan spent four years and a great deal of time and money investigating the achievement gap that so many of us, both educators and lay people, constantly hear about, worry about, and wonder about. He traveled to schools he discovered were getting it right, he talk ...more
Dan Swartos
In the interest of full disclosure, I approached this book with a fair amount of apprehension- another book written by a wealthy celebrity who claims to have found the solution to the problems in American education. What I was not prepared for was a thoughtful, well researched book by someone who genuinely comes across as wanting to close the achievement gap in urban schools. M. Night Shyamalan is a wealthy celebrity and wildly popular screenwriter, but he also has a legitimate concern regarding ...more
Dewin Anguas Barnette
I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan's writing and a dedicated believer in education reform, so when I heard that the two were meeting in a book, I was thrilled. But, before I even began reading the book, just by reading the word "achievement" on the inner flap of the dust jacket, I knew that this was not going to be a fun read for me. While I am thrilled that people who are not educators or politicians are getting into the discussion on education, and while he did a lot of admirable research, ...more
Jenny GB
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I'm skeptical whenever someone comes up with the perfect number of ways to improve schools. Five? Really? Why not four or six? Anyway, Syamalan hires someone to do a review of current literature and studies to find out these secrets. He also visits schools (mostly charter schools) to try to find out what works on schools. It's an admirable goal and I admire his passion. I found many of his ideas not all that surprising like smaller schools, a longer school day or school year, using data, e ...more
Debbie Morrison
"I Got Schooled" is an ambitious book. The author, M. Night Shyamalan is not an educator, policy analyst or even parent of public schooled children (his three girls go to private school); but a film producer, and a successful one at that. I admire his willingness and tenacity to tackle this complex and politically charged issue of public school education in the United States. He shares five tenets which he suggests will close the education gap, with data to back each up. Though there is nothing ...more
Dan Bachar
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I picked this up, I had read some other reviews criticizing Shyamalan's book. Upon finishing it, however, I found it to be both thought provoking and an easy read. His writing style is simple to comprehend, as it's essentially a first person account of trying to understand what's going on in schools that helps them provide the best possible support for their students.

Many of the negative reviews that I saw centered around the fact that Shyamalan has never taught in a classroom, and how co
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! We homeschool, but hubby and I have always felt burdened knowing the plight of inner city schools in our country and have never understood why all public schools can't offer the same quality of education regardless of the socio-economic status of the students.

I am so much better informed after reading this book. Not only do I understand the factors that play into the education gap, but I now understand what it would take to turn that around and close the gap. I feel this is goin
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, liked this book. One of the most interesting things I learned is that if you compare American schools that have a poverty level below 10 percent to schools in other countries, our schools come out on top. It is the inner-city, high-poverty schools that pull down our rankings. Shayamalan makes convincing arguments for the 5 factors that need to be in place to close the education gap. He is a thorough and engaging writer. Nevertheless, the book did seem to lag sometimes with its extensive ...more
John P.
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-got-schooled
Without a doubt the best anything that I've ever read on school reform because the five key elements that the author identifies as critical to increasing academic achievement, which correlate to evidence-based research. You will be surprised at the results and the bewitching of cognitive biases that is often at the root of politically motivated educational reform. I will mention the five keys but keep in mind that your preconceived biases will be challenged: no roadblock teachers, school leaders ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shyamalan lists and explains the five keys he believes are necessary for turning around low-achieving schools.
1. Get rid of the really bad teachers (2-5%)
2. Leadership - interestingly, the principals in the schools he visited spent their time in classrooms observing and working with teachers, acting as a coach and modeling (would need some training first). The everyday running of the school was done by someone else so the principal would have time to devote to instilling a positive school cultur
Matthew Talbert
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author seems like an unlikely source for a serious book on education reform. I don't think I would have picked this book, except that through chance I read the first chapter in a magazine and liked it so much I immediately bought the book.

This book is extremely encouraging, because it supplies real answers to the problems with education in the US. There are really things that we can do that will make a difference in the lives of children, particularly the extremely poor. They don't even cost
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I'm reserving the book's pedagogical merits to professionals in the education field. I first heard about the book on CNBC. Mr. Shymalan was being interviewed on Squawk Box. Both he and the anchors seemed a little to sure of the answers filtering it from a perch of privilege. Reserved and ready to discount the book I read it in about 10 days. My first and only problem was the complicated data analysis. I am poor in statistics.
However, it's the statistics along with his interviews that makes the b
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Good book that addresses public education in a holistic manner looking at a handful of attributes that together must be present. I like the analogy to good health. You should not have to be an educator to be able to think critically about education.

The author did years of research and visited lots of schools. He did not come to his conclusions alone or lightly. Lifelong educators who focus on the many reasons why these factors cannot be carried out are missing the point. Government institutions
Kelly Anderson
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you had asked me if I wanted to read a book about education from the director of After Earth and The Last Airbender, I would have said "absolutely not." However, I was introduced to this book by hearing the author speak at the National Press Club. He was fantastic in that speech, and he inspired me to read the book. Now, I wish everyone would read the book. You might not agree with his conclusions, but we definitely need to make education a committed priority and not just something we talk ab ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
Great book - lots of info, very well explained. The author and the foundation that he funds put in years of research and analyzing existing educational research into this book. Being a movie maker Shyamalan is obviously a great storyteller, so the book is fun to read.
Closing the achievement gap should be important to everyone and this book details the keys (no roadblock teachers, right balance of leadership, feedback, smaller schools, more time in school) needed to do that.
I noted quite a few
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and inspiring. I agree that we all have a moral obligation to ensure that every child has access to high-quality education that enables them to reach their full potential. In this book he uses economic/financial productivity as a proxy for full potential, which makes sense because it is measurable, and because he is focused on the urban areas where economic productivity needs much improvement. The 5 keys are a straightforward way to help millions of kids who are falling farther and f ...more
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EVERYONE should read this book-Teachers, administrators, parents, grandparents, taxpayers, POLITICIANS...anyone interested in education today. While this book's goal is to share findings about how AND WHY we can and should close the achievement gap in America's schools today, without "Waiting for Superman", there is much to learn and understand about many of the initiatives/buzzwords in education today-why some work and why some don't. The truths that Shyamalan tease out here are all based on ex ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this book is that it shows if you have passion and interest in a topic you can bring attention to it as a first step in making a difference.

We need to pay more attention to how our system educates everyone, not just the privileged and Shymalan presents a perspective of Five Key Tenents that are worth considering.

This was great at presenting the issues and proposing a solution but I'm curious about what's next. Is this meant to provoke more thinking and conversation only or i
Although I skimmed the explanation of statistics, Shyamalan's five prescriptions make a lot of sense. It's very interesting how he compares it to health and makes the point that no ONE thing works. Multiple factors need to work together.

The idea of creating superstar principals (and teachers) stood out to me. For all the "miracle"/"superman" stories that get so much hype, how much better for the whole country if we see excellent leadership as teachable, not innate.

The same could be said for int
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Get past Shyamalan’s mega ego and there are some interesting points. Seems to me he is recommending that schools operate more like corporations to succeed: fire low performing workers, provide strong leadership, analyze data and keep size manageable. The fifth key I found most interesting -- more time in school. Translation: if time with the family has a negative impact on a child’s education then keep the child in school and away from the family. Bold stuff but just imagine applying it across t ...more
Sarah Allen
Great and nuanced analysis of the factors that did NOT make his final list (especially class size), but Shyamalan loses his rigor when he exams the five "keys" he selected. They don't seem to be backed by as much research as he often suggests. But I appreciated the idea that the most effective reform efforts reinforce and strengthen each other such that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Urmi Cholera
There are two things I learned from this Shyamalan really loves unhealthy amount..and he brings up 5 interesting tenants to closing the achievement gap that are fascinating to learn about..a great read into the things that are necessary to implement in American public schools to bring everyone to same the same deserving footing. That is if you can make it past Shymalan's love letter to himself.
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
What an easy and interesting read! I feel like I learned a lot from this book about the author's research and vision for closing the educational gap in America. I believe strongly with the 2012 words of Condoleeza Rice that education is THE greatest civil rights struggle in America, and unfortunately because of economic reasons, this struggle goes on without nearly the support of the media or policy-makers as womens' rights or sexual freedom issues. America needs to read this book!
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Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan, known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is an Indian American writer-director of major studio films, known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots that usually climax with a twist ending. He is also known for filming his movies (and staging his plots) in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Shyamalan released his first film, Praying with Anger, in 19
More about M. Night Shyamalan...

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“Here’s how Andreas Schleicher, who directs those PISA tests, puts it: “The best way to find out whether what students have learned at school matters for their life is to actually watch what happens to them after they leave school.” 1 likes
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