The authors describe a 5-year research project on Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) efforts in Arizona K–8 schools. Relevant literature, the context of the project, and a description of related special issue articles are discussed.
This article describes how principals in K–8 schools reported, in their own words, the progress that they, teachers, and students were making in their Comprehensive School Reform plan.
This paper is a preface to the special issue.
The authors focus on the classroom practices in Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) schools in Grades 3–5 and how they differ across subject matter, grade level, and time of year.
The authors explore how teacher behaviors that support student autonomy are expressed in Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) classrooms.
This article describes the results of a participant observation study conducted in one school engaged in Comprehensive School Reform. The study was instrumental to the development of instruments that capture students’ perspectives and motivational dynamics about school, approach to learning, and sense of self. This article focuses on the student-beliefs-about-school instrument and describes the analysis rubric for student stories.
The authors explore how students who attend Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) schools think about classroom learning by examining students’ responses to pictures of student-teacher interaction.
As part of a larger research program examining the experiences of students in schools that received Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) funds, this study examined student perceptions of group experiences and social processes in third- through fifth-grade classrooms.
This article builds on previous articles in this issue that reported on students in Grades 3–5 in Comprehensive School Reform classrooms. It explores individual differences in these students’ understanding of, and disposition toward, school.
Burross examines the relationships among funding, poverty, and norm- and criterion-referenced standardized exam scores with focus on the performances of fourth-grade students.
This article provides information about recent school reform research and conditions of schooling. The article then reviews our research findings (drawing on all the preceding articles in the special issue) and considers implications for policy makers, principals, teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.
This study uses two frameworks to evaluate the importance of school reform effects. The first framework evaluates school reform effects by comparing them to the achievement gap between important student groups, and the second framework evaluates school reform effects by comparing them to the achievement gap between schools. Results from analyses using NAEP data show that the most appropriate framework for judging school reform effects is the national distribution of school effects that can be used to define differences in achievement between schools.
In this paper, the authors analyze the convergence of two apparently opposite theories of action regarding urban educational reform. The first theory, emphasizing small schools of choice, promotes close relationships between students and adults in distinctive school programs. The second, a district-guided instructional improvement reform, seeks to standardize instruction through demanding curriculum, standard-bearing work, and investment in professional learning. The study adds to existing research on the role of the school district in shaping and bringing to scale instructional improvement in urban schools.
David Berliner's 2005 Presidential Invited Speech to the American Educational Research Association meeting in Montreal, Canada, May, 2005.
Teacher effects on student achievement have been well established in the literature. The extent to which schools can differentially affect student performance, however, has been actively debated for over forty years. We briefly review the school effects literature that has guided Title I Funding for School Reform and most recently, the development of the modern comprehensive school reform programs (CSR).
The article examines three schools and explores their governance, organization, finance, ownership, and admissions, characteristics the research literature indicates distinguish public from private schools. The authors demonstrate that there are emerging forms of school organization that are neither clearly public nor private, but of a third hybred type, or quasi-public organization.
Educators must find ways to legitimize critique and controversy within organizational life. This article examines constructive conflict within the context of a comprehensive Midwestern high school engaged in significant reform efforts. Here conflict is employed as a means to promote individual and organizational learning and growth.
A plan is presented that replaces the age/grade x school subjects structure of schooling with a structure of sequenced courses leading to incremental capability certification.
Standards-based reform was proposed as a means to bring coherence to the education system and trigger reforms and investments targeted at greater learning. These benefits have materialized in some states but not others, depending on their strategies for change. This article proposes mid-course corrections needed to ensure that standards-based reforms support student success, rather than punishing those who are already underserved.
The paper examines research literature on various factors affecting change in schools, including social and political factors, school culture, leadership, and professional development. The effects of best practices research on teacher motivations are also analyzed.
This study examines the policy mechanisms and processes that districts can use to provide high-quality in-service professional development for teachers. The findings are based on a national probability sample of district professional development coordinators.
With Community School District #2 as our object of study, this paper examines the ways in which knowledge from the fields of educational policy and teaching and learning can be effectively combined. Our central claim is that, in the current era of high expectations and high-demand curriucla, those policies which most successfully influence the educational core will be those which begin with micro analyses of what is being taught and learned inside the classroom door and then trace backwards to implications for macro-district-wide policies.
The first half of this chapter briefly summarizes the lessons learned to date regarding components that are absolutely essential for transforming high poverty middle schools. As developers of the Talent Development Middle School (TDMS) model,2 we draw upon our own experiences from the past 6 years working with high poverty middle schools in Philadelphia, Memphis, New Jersey, and Michigan. We argue that by focusing on the infrastructure of teaching and learning and by creating a communal organization of schooling, it is possible to make significant achievement and motivational gains in high poverty middle schools. In the second half of this chapter, we discuss several remaining instructional, school culture, and policy obstacles that must be overcome, and we consider the additional components that are still needed to reliably transform the most troubled high poverty middle schools into strong learning institutions.
The extent and location of weak learning environments and poor student outcomes in American high schools need to be better understood if we are to focus attention and resources where reforms are most needed. We begin this chapter by providing various indicators of the serious problems affecting high schools and then describe how the indicators are concentrated in large high schools in high-poverty areas. There is an emerging consensus that comprehensive reform approaches that address high school organization and operations offer promising solutions to these problems. Therefore, we also provide a brief history of earlier reform recommendations that have evolved into the comprehensive change models now available. We conclude with a description of four common components of comprehensive reform models for high schools, with examples and recent evaluation evidence from one selected model that offers specific materials and support systems.
A book review essay on Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms (Simon & Schuster, 2000) by Diane Ravitch that challenges the book's main thesis based on the writer's extended experiences in the schools and a variety of primary and secondary sources.
The article tells the story of Michigan’s effort to create a language arts curriculum.
This essay traces the development of research and development techniques perfected by scientists during World War II and examines how they were imported from the military research programs to the field of education by a select group of physicists centered around Jerrold Zacharias at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
From the Capitol to the Classroom is about standards-based reform, which, in the 1990s, became the predominant policy approach of states and localities throughout the United States. After ten years or so of such reforms, it is time to look at results. While some evidence is emerging about student learning, since the reforms are still evolving and are in various stages of implementation, no overall verdict can be rendered. However, it is quite appropriate and not too early to ask whether classroom practice, which must change in order to produce increases in student learning, is improving in ways encouraged by reforms. This book focuses primarily on how schools and teachers are responding to standards policies.
This chapter has two main purposes: (1) testing the central thesis of
standards-based reform, and (2) deriving lessons about the strengths
and weaknesses of actual reform strategies that are used in policy and