School reforms that actually work

Aug 5, 2014 by

By Gary Ravani –

There is a story about a guy who banged his head against a stone wall because “it felt so good when he stopped.” It’s time that we stop banging our heads against the wall trying to implement school reforms that are ill-conceived, and it’s time for policymakers to look at reforms that have actually succeeded in raising achievement for challenged populations of students.

Additional Resources: Haberman Foundation and Teacher Selection

The Consortium on Chicago School Research, in Organizing Schools for Improvement, studied schools attempting reform in that city. Some schools with very similar demographics ended up with very dissimilar outcomes. Schools that showed success embraced “Essential Supports.” These supports, in essence, are as follows:

leadership—principals organized their staffs and community assets in support of student learning;

improved community ties—the principal and school staff reached out and made school more welcoming for parents and created links to other community institutions;

increased professional capacity—a focus on quality professional development and continuous improvement;

student-centered learning environment—an environment where students feel safe and supported to engage in ambitious intellectual activity; and

instructional guidance—gathering the whole school community around a common vision of curriculum and instruction promoting ambitious academic achievement.

Another reform model that increased student achievement is detailed in Improbable Scholars, by University of California Berkeley Professor David Kirp. Although Kirp concentrates on one school district, in Union City, New Jersey, he also references districts implementing a similar model, including Sanger in California.

via School reforms that actually work – The Washington Post.

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