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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: TV documentaries, other markets


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Friday, June 30, 2006
SDX Awards: TV documentaries, other markets

Winner: Hedrick Smith, Rick Young and Sarah Colt — South Carolina Educational Television

By Chris Speckman

Instead of scouring for what’s broken in today’s public schools, “Making Schools Work,” a documentary devised by South Carolina Educational Television, stresses the positive and gives teachers something to work with instead of just heaping more criticism on an underappreciated profession.

“What is extraordinary about ‘Making Schools Work’ is that it broadly rebuts the despair that public schools do not work,” said Polly Kosko, vice president of national programming and development at South Carolina Educational Television. “It provides concrete evidence of education success from coast to coast by models that are reaching thousands of schools and 2 million students — the very low-performing students from poor neighborhoods that most people gave up on.”

Countless hours went into the two-hour program’s production. The documentary’s researchers were routinely tested both by the complexity of the effort and the limitations of television as an educational medium.

“The excellence of this documentary lies both in the reporting that unearthed these success stories and its ability to portray the essence of high-quality learning and teaching,” Kosko said.

“The untold story of quality teaching is not easy to capture for a television audience, differences between excellent and mediocre teaching are myriad but subtle. The production team wanted to show the fast-paced, innovative strategies that separate the successful classroom from mediocre instruction.”

The documentary portrays a unique perspective. Instead of suggesting a universal method that all teachers should implement, its producers recommended deviation and experimentation. After all, teaching is far from an exact science.

“After years of research and months of shooting, ‘Making Schools Work’ reveals that there is no single magic formula for educational success,” said Kosko. “Several strategies work well. The common denominator is results, lifting scores and closing achievement gaps. And the implications from ‘Making Schools Work’ are enormous for U.S. education nationwide.”

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