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
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.”