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
We examine issues related to the district role in education reform
by drawing on data from two companion national surveys as well as
national archival files.
In a three-year study conducted by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, researchers tracked curriculum and
assessment reforms in twenty-three school districts in eight states. We interviewed teachers, principals, and district staff as they responded to local, state, and national pressures to reform teaching and learning. In four states (Maryland, Kentucky, Michigan, and California) we did more intense
data collection, interviewing, and observing teachers in three elementary schools in each of three districts. In the study’s third year, we surveyed teachers. This chapter draws on preliminary analyses of those data.
The authors point to the role of cultural resources in establishing the gap between educational theory and practice. They illustrate their argument by using a situation in which an educational theory is imprisoned by contradicting cultural resources.
Drawing on examples of collaborative projects in two urban Professional Development Schools, the authors argue for a cultural approach to school reform: knowledge of curriculum and instruction, knowledge of self and other, and knowledge of critical action.
A discussion with Diane Ravitch on her book Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform
Drawing upon a teacher survey, this article proposes that successful instructional policies are themselves instructional: teachers’ opportunities to learn about and from policy influence both their practice and, at least indirectly, student achievement.
This article suggests that rather than trying to create “break the mold” school designs, reformers should balance efforts to explore new ideas that may be successful in the future with further expansion of practices that have been successful in the past.
The study examines the relationship of teacher learning, teaching practice, school restructuring, and student outcomes in three high performing high schools for students at-risk.
An introduction to the case of two urban middle schools engaged in reform with quite different results
A look at a middle school succeeding at school reform
A middle school presenting conflicting messages to immigrant students
Discussion Questions On the Reforms at Kousanar and Granite
The author considers the example of IBM's participation in school reform initiatives in Charlotte, North Carolina, to frame a discussion of the broader issues concerning business involvement in education.
Drawing on a 23-year qualitative study of a single elementary school, the author interprets the pattern of change using the punctuated equilibrium theory of organizational change.
By examining changes in official Finnish school reform discourse over the past thirty years, the author interprets them as the result of a blend of utopianism and rationalism which generate additional discourse on reform.
Beginning with the assumption that schools change reforms as much as reforms change schools, this essay argues that the judgement of a reform's success depends heavily on the criteria used to make the judgement.
This article examines the relationship between the team concept and school practice on the basis of a case study of a team that designed, developed, and implemented an innovative vocational education program within a secondary school.
A report on five years of observations of Chicago school reform.
An examination of Chicago's governance reforms of the 1990's as one case of corporate influence.
Comments on the two preceding articles that examined Chicago's complex school reform efforts. The articles present differing views, with one emphasizing democratic and social issues related to reform and the other highlighting the organization of business leaders into a political force. They also raise questions about power, social movements, and ethnic/racial politics in urban settings.
Contemporary educational research seems now to bear out the basic notion of the open classroom, namely, that children can and should be taught in the ways they learn best. It is time for another look at “open education.”
Two cases of planned curriculum change are examined to illustrate the limits and possibilities of curriculum reform.
Service learning offers a philosophical challenge to traditional ways
of thinking about education. By integrating efforts to understand and
address the community's needs into the curriculum, we can create a
focal point for showing students the connection between school and the
real world. As James Beane reminds us, the curriculum must make
"sense as a whole; and its parts, whatever they are, are unified and connected
by that sense of the whole." Service learning programs challenge
participants to make connections between service experiences and academic
learning. As students perform a service activity that applies curriculum
concepts, they can see how the learning in separate disciplines
is in fact interrelated, and how that learning applies to their own lives.
An examination of elementary school teachers' responses to their local school district's efforts to press more ambitious ideas about literacy instruction.
This article describes two processes or strategies used in the change efforts for the public school system.
A study of sixteen educational reform networks.
This article describes a four-stage working model for implementing cooperative learning and changing patterns of teachers’ organizational behavior in secondary schools. The practical steps to be taken, and the specific topics to be dealt with in each step, are presented in detail.
This article examines the evolution of deregulation as a state education policy strategy, from limited waiver programs to charter programs and new accountability systems that include broad deregulation. The article discusses the substantial political and practical barriers to broad deregulation despite the assumption that greater school-level autonomy will lead to improvement.