Tag Archives: Characteristics of Successful Schools

MDRC report: New York City’s small schools raise graduation rates for disadvantaged students

19 Oct

The Wisconsin Department of Education has a succinct description of what makes a successful school in Characteristics of Successful Schools Chpt 1 – Overview:

Successful Schools Have a Vision That:

  1. is accompanied by other strategic planning. Strategic planning is a data-driven process that guides decision making, as well as program implementation components such as:
    • goal statements
    • means to accomplish the goals
    • timelines
  2. links education standards to teacher expectations and student performance
  3. fosters district wide expectations and experiences that result in all students mastering challenging standards at proficient or above levels
  4. engages the entire learning community to take responsibility for all students’ learning
  5. includes carefully defined terms that are known and supported by all constituents
  6. is developed with representation from a wide variety of publics and demographic groups
  7. drives resource allocation in the learning as well as the broader community
  8. allows the societal, academic, and organizational components of education to operate in a seamless manner
  9. articulates the learning community’s commitment to both excellence and equity in the organization
  10. embraces the dual mission of creating in each student solid and rigorous academic achievement and civic caring and responsibility

http://cssch.dpi.wi.gov/cssch_cssovrvw1

MDRC, with a grant from the Gates Foundation, has been studying small schools in New York City for the past several years. Disadvantaged students are enabled in the small school setting, according to their findings.

Patricia Willens of NPR reported in the story, New Research Suggests Small High Schools May Help After All:

Findings from a new long-term study of small high schools in New York City show the approach may not only boost a student’s chances of enrolling in college but also cost less per graduate.

The city began an intensive push to create smaller learning communities in its high schools in 2002. That year, the city’s education department rolled out a districtwide lottery system for high school admission.

The study, by the research group MDRC, compares the academic outcomes of students in the small schools with a control group of students who sought admission, lost a lottery, and enrolled in other New York City high schools.

At the same time, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg started creating hundreds of high schools enrolling about 100 students per grade — enrollments much smaller than the comprehensive high schools that had been the norm for decades.

These small schools shared some key characteristics: academic rigor, personalized relationships with teachers, and real-world relevance to the classroom lessons. Another key: outside funding, including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corp. of New York, and the Open Society Foundations. (Those three philanthropies are also supporters of NPR.)

The proportion of students who graduated from these high schools in four years and enrolled the next year in a post-secondary institution was 8.4 percentage points higher than in the control group, 49 percent, the MDRC study finds. In particular, the researchers found that the schools boosted college enrollment for black males by 11.3 percentage points, a 36 percent increase relative to their control group counterparts.

The small high schools included in the multiyear study also cost less per graduate. Costs were roughly 14 percent to 16 percent lower, the study said, largely because students graduated in four years rather than staying for a fifth year of high school….                           http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/10/17/356661018/new-research-suggests-small-high-schools-may-help-after-all

Here is the press release from MDRC:

New Findings Show New York City’s Small High Schools Boost College Enrollment Rates Among Disadvantaged Students

Higher High School Graduation Rates Translate into College Enrollment; College-Going by Black Males Up by 36 Percent

10/2014

(New York, October 16, 2014) — MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm, released new findings today from its rigorous multiyear study of small public high schools in New York City. The findings confirm that these schools, which serve mostly disadvantaged students of color, not only raise graduation rates by 9.4 percentage points, but they boost college enrollment by 8.4 percentage points. In addition, the small high schools achieve these gains at a lower cost per graduate than that of the high schools attended by students who had applied to these schools but were randomly assigned to other public high schools when small school slots were full.

Nearly all of the increase in high school graduation rates can be attributed to a rise in Regents diplomas attained, and the effects are seen in virtually every student group attending these schools, including male and female students of color, students with below grade level eighth-grade proficiency scores in math and reading, low-income students, and students in special education. The effects on postsecondary enrollment are seen for most student subgroups, including low-income students and students of color. For example, the schools boosted college enrollment by 11.3 percentage points for black males, a 36 percent increase relative to their control group counterparts.

“Our study confirms that New York City’s small public high schools are making a marked difference for a wide range of disadvantaged students, not only helping more of them to graduate with Regents diplomas but equipping them to actually take the next critical step into college,” said Gordon Berlin, President of MDRC.  “What is truly remarkable, though, about these results is that a high school reform has had a measurable effect on college-going and it has done so at scale — across scores of public high schools.”

More Detail on the Study and the Findings

The creation of small schools by the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) began in the 1990s. In 2002, the NYCDOE instituted a district-wide high school admissions process that emphasized student choice and began establishing over 100 new academically nonselective small public schools. Each enrolling approximately 100 students per grade in grades 9 through 12, these schools were created to serve some of the district’s most disadvantaged students. Besides being small, they emphasize academic rigor, personalized relationships among strong teachers and students, and real-world relevance of learning. MDRC’s study takes advantage of the lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process that kick in when schools have more applicants than seats available to compare over time the academic outcomes of students who won their first lottery and enrolled in the small schools with those who sought admission, lost a lottery, and enrolled in other New York City high schools.

Previous reports by MDRC (in 2010, 2012, and 2013) showed marked increases in graduation rates for the cohorts of students who entered these small high schools in 2005, 2006, and 2007. This new report updates those findings with results from a fourth cohort of students who entered ninth grade in the fall of 2008. For the first time, the study also follows students into postsecondary education. A separate working paper contains a cost analysis. The study’s new findings include:

  • For all four cohorts of students, small high schools in New York City markedly increased high school graduation rates for large numbers of disadvantaged students of color, even as graduation rates were rising at other New York City high schools. For the full sample, students at small high schools have a graduation rate of 71.6 percent, compared with 62.2 percent for students in the control situation. The higher graduation rate was driven by students earning Regents diplomas. These effects were seen among nearly all subgroups of students who attended the small high schools.
  • Attending a small high school increased the percentage of students who graduated from high school in four years and enrolled the next year in a postsecondary institution by 8.4 percentage points (to 49.0 percent). Most subgroups, including black males, black females, and students eligible for free/reduced-price lunch, experienced these effects. Small high schools modestly increased enrollment rates in postsecondary schools at every selectivity level, including competitive and very competitive schools, as defined by Barron’s ratings.
  • The small high schools achieved these gains at a lower cost per graduate than that of the high schools attended by their control group counterparts — roughly 14 percent to 16 percent lower. This is in large part because more students successfully graduate from small high schools and fewer need to attend an expensive fifth year of high school.

What Are Small Schools of Choice?

Small schools of choice (SSCs) — a term coined by the researchers to emphasize the fact that these nonselective schools are open to and chosen by students of all academic levels — are more than just small. They were developed and approved through a competitive proposal process administered by the New York City Department of Education and designed to stimulate innovative ideas for new schools by a range of stakeholders and institutions, from educators to school reform organizations, led in part by New Visions for Public Schools and including the Urban Assembly, the Institute for Student Achievement, the College Board, and others. The resulting schools emphasize academic rigor; strong, sustained relationships between students and faculty; and community partnerships to offer relevant learning opportunities outside the classroom. Each SSC also received start-up funding as well as assistance and policy support from the district and other key players to facilitate leadership development, hiring, and implementation. These reform efforts were supported by a consortium of funders, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Open Society Foundations, and were implemented in collaboration with the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Prior research by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools suggests that teachers and principals at SSCs strongly believe that academic rigor and personal relationships with students contribute to the effectiveness of their schools.

How Was the Study Conducted?

As noted above, the study takes advantage of lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process. Each year, NYC eighth-graders are required to select in rank order of priority up to 12 high schools that they want to attend; when an SSC has more applicants than spaces, the district’s High School Application Processing System uses a randomized process to break ties and assign students to the SSC or to another school in the district from each student’s list of preferences. This analysis examines lotteries that occurred in 84 of the 123 SSCs and provides the basis for an unusually large and rigorous study of the effects of enrolling in SSCs on students’ academic achievement; the study tracks more than 12,000 students in SSCs and other high schools in New York City. The study does not compare the SSCs to the large, failing high schools they replaced but, rather, to the other public high schools operating in the reform-rich atmosphere in New York City.

MDRC’s study is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All publications from the study, including the new one, Headed to College: The Effects of New York City’s Small High Schools of Choice on Postsecondary Enrollment by Rebecca Unterman, are available on MDRC’s website.

Contact: John Hutchins, Communications Director, 212-340-8604, john.hutchins@mdrc.org, or Farhana Hossain, 212-340-4505, farhana.hossain@mdrc.org.                                                                                               http://www.mdrc.org/news/press-release/new-findings-show-new-york-city-s-small-high-schools-boost-college-enrollment

There are pros and cons to attending a small school.

Kristen Bevilacqua wrote about Pros and Cons of Small High Schools:

Pros*

Class sizes are usually smaller at small high schools. With fewer students in a class, students get more personal attention from their teachers. Shy students may feel more comfortable participating and asking questions and in more intimate class settings.

Fewer students equal fewer cliques. The atmosphere at small schools encourages close friendships since classmates get to know each other better than they would with thousands of peers in the same building. There is no opportunity to be anonymous, so students are more accountable to themselves. I knew the name of every student in my graduating class and the classes below me when I graduated from high school.

Cons*

Large high schools tend to have a more diverse student body. While smaller schools may foster an atmosphere for close friendships, it is less likely that their students will be exposed to as many different ethnicities and cultures as their large school counterparts.

With diversity comes differences. A small and less diverse school does not introduce students to various and opposing opinions. For students’ budding minds, the exploration of all ideas is important for their development and self-discovery.

Although there may be less competition for Editor of the school newspaper or yearbook, the choices for extra curricular activities are more limited at a small high school. For example, my high school did not have any sports teams. If one of my classmates would have liked to play competitive sports, she would have had to join a league or group not affiliated with our school – not as convenient as playing on your school team.

The facilities can also be limited as a small school. They may not have a gymnasium, or functioning cafeteria; if there is a science lab it is probably shared by all grades studying different sciences…..                     http://www.educationspace360.com/index.php/pros-and-cons-of-small-high-schools-3-14879/

The MDRC study emphasizes there should be no one size fits all in education.

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Ohio report: Regional cooperation to align education services

17 Aug

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class in America

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are. The question for those who believe that ALL children should receive a good basic education is whether there is a difference between good and effective schools.

Joanne Yatvin, is a longtime public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teaches part-time at Portland StateUniversity and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools. Yatvin has written a thoughtful Washington Post piece, The difference between good schools and effective schools.

I just found a book review I wrote for The Elementary School Journal in 1986. The book I reviewed was McDonogh 15: Becoming a School by Lucianne Bond Carmichael.  (If you’ve never read it, you should get a copy, read it, and hold it close to your heart forever.  Better yet, buy several copies and send them to your federal and state legislators.)

Reading it reinforced and expanded my own idea of what a truly good school is and the specific things it does to empower its students and strengthen its teachers. I will quote one section of my review: a definition and description of a good school based partly on Carmichael’s experience as a principal and partly on my own.  Because I am taking the quoted section out of context and because educational terminology has changed over the years, I have altered some of it but the meaning remains the same:

To help you understand what I have learned from McDonogh 15, I will describe a good school as I know it and compare it to today’s popular ideal called an ”effective school.”  Let me start with a general definition of a good school and go on with more detailed descriptions of both types of schools:

A good school is a place where children learn enough worthwhile things to make a strong start in life, where a foundation is laid that supports later learning, and where children develop the desire to learn more.

 Specifically, a good school mirrors the realities of life in an ordered, adult society; it is rational and safe, a practice ground for the things people do in the outside world. The school creates a sense of community that permits personal expression within a framework of social responsibility. It focuses on learnings that grow through use–with or without more schooling–such as communication skills, decision making, craftsmanship, and group interaction.  It makes children think of themselves as people who find strength, nourishment, and joy in learning.

 In contrast, the effective school looks at learning in terms of test scores in a limited number of academic areas.  It does not take into consideration problem-solving abilities, social skills, or even complex academic skills.  It does not differentiate between dynamic and inert knowledge; it ignores motivation.  When we hear of a school where test scores are in the 90th percentile, should we not also ask what that school does to prepare students to live the next sixty years of their lives? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-difference-between-good-schools-and-effective-schools/2012/01/31/gIQAlQIlsQ_blog.html

There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools. Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools , lists key elements:

Many school districts are in a period of flat or declining revenue. The U.S. Department of Education has a page, Pay and Manage for Results, which discusses efforts by districts to manage resources:

To deliver non-educational services as efficiently as possible and to improve payment structures to deliver better results, policy makers should pursue strategies that will enable them to pay and manage for results. Pursuing performance-based funding, performance contracting, and shared services, can result in meaningful cost savings with minimal effort.

Disclaimer The links on this page are provided for users convenience and are not an endorsement. See full disclaimer.

Performance-based funding: Performance-based funding and other structures that allocate dollars based on the educational results achieved, are gaining traction in the education field. Growing in use in higher education and adult education as well, performance-based funding is being pursued in K-12 education for its emphasis on improved outcomes and cost efficiencies….

Performance-based contracting: Many school districts, cities, and counties have taken advantage of performance-based contracting, a strategy that enables them to purchase outcomes as opposed to inputs. A number of school districts across the country use performance-based contracting for non-instructional services, particularly energy. Energy performance contracts in particular have shown to result in substantial cost savings for districts….

Strategic sourcing or shared services: Pooling purchasing when procuring goods and services can help to reduce costs. Consolidating or expanding shared services and cooperative agreements among school districts or between school districts and municipal governments can result in cost savings and quality improvements.http://www.ed.gov/oii-news/pay-and-manage-results

KnowledgeWorks funded a study of shared resources in Ohio.

Here is the press release for the report, Towards a New Model of Educational Governance for Ohio: Regional Cooperation to Align Education Services:

Ohio school districts could save millions and improve student outcomes if state provided better regional support

Ohio Education Matters releases second report as part of Ohio Smart Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 24, 2011 

Byron McCauley – (513) 929-1310

CINCINNATI — Ohio needs new regional structures to help school districts share services and to help communities better focus local resources on problems in the educational system that are holding some children back, according to a new independent report released today by Ohio Education Matters.

The report, the second in the Ohio Smart Schools initiative, recommended that the state collapse fractured existing regional entities into Regional Service Agencies that would lead the state’s effort to save hundreds of millions in education spending by sharing services across districts.

In addition, the report called on the state to expand existing P-16 councils into a statewide network of regional P-16 councils. These councils would help create an infrastructure of support for local schools and districts by connecting them more closely to their local and regional service providers for children.

“Most schools and districts in Ohio do not have the ability to easily share services and get the cost efficiencies of regional service delivery,” said Andrew Benson, Executive Director of Ohio Education Matters, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks. “Building a regional market for services would allow districts to reduce costs and focus more dollars and attention on the classroom.”

Likewise, P-16 councils help schools and districts better tap into community resources that can improve outcomes for children. The report highlighted the successes of two nationally known P-16 councils in Ohio: the Stark Education Partnership in the Canton area, and the Strive Partnership in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

“Both of these councils serve as great examples of what the collective impact of communities can do to improve the academic and social well-being of children,” Benson said. “They have leveraged millions in private dollars for children and reduced waste and duplication in support services for students, like afterschool programs, tutoring and health initiatives.”

The report, titled Towards a New Model of Educational Governance for Ohio: Regional Cooperation to Align Education Services, is part of the Ohio Smart Schools initiative, which comes in response to a request from the State of Ohio last year to study K-12 education spending to find more efficiencies. The independent report, funded by KnowledgeWorks with additional private dollars, is offering ideas to state leaders as they consider how to close a budget shortfall of up to $8 billion in the next biennial budget.

The report urged the state to take action in the next fiscal year to create these new regional structures so that they would be operating in FY13. The report called for the reallocation of $5 million in existing state education funds to provide matching planning grants for the creation of up to 100 new P-16 councils. The authors, citing studies in other states, conclude that regional sharing of services is a better alternative to district consolidation.

Benson said hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved from sharing services through Regional Service Agencies. As an example, the report notes that a regional collaboration to transport students who attend charter and private schools could potentially save up to $238 million a year in the eight largest metropolitan areas of Ohio.

“These proposals will focus more dollars on student-needs by wrenching more savings out of the system and better coordinating the use of private and community resources,” he said.

This report is the second in a series from the Ohio Smart Schools effort. Earlier, Ohio Education Matters released a report on school employee health care benefits, which showed that Ohio public school districts can save up to $138 million a year in employee health care costs if the state were to require them to pool together in large groups that benefit from larger economies of scale. That report also called for the state to find ways to encourage Ohio school districts to pursue lower-cost health insurance plans that could cut health benefit costs by 37 percent.

The reports are available at www.ohioeducationmatters.org and www.ohiosmartschools.org.

Ohio Education Matters, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks Foundation, is a statewide, public policy research organization that focuses on connecting the dots between great innovations and those in the community who can make change. As a non-partisan entity, Ohio Education Matters acts as a catalyst of education transformation by conducting research, advocacy, engagement and policy development that inspires others to make the system changes needed today to prepare Ohio’s children for the future.

KnowledgeWorks is bringing the future of learning to America’s high schools and creating widespread, lasting change in the communities and states we serve. Our portfolio of high school approaches includes New Tech Network high schools, EdWorks high school redesign, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Early College High Schools. The Strive Partnership is a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.

See, KnowledgeWorks Touts ‘Resource Sharing’ to Ohio Schools http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/knowledgeworks-touts-resource-sharing-to-ohio-schools/

It is important for schools to have the resources to carry out their mission.

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids. What does it Mean to Be Relentless About the Basics:      

  1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
  2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
  3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
  4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
  5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.   

Related:

Center for American Progress report: Performance-based funding in higher education                                                               https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/center-for-american-progress-report-performance-based-funding-in-higher-education/

More school districts facing a financial crunch are considering school ads                                                                 https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/more-school-districts-facing-a-financial-crunch-are-considering-school-ads/

Brookings study: State grant aid goes increasingly to the wealthy                                                              https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/brookings-study-state-grant-aid-goes-increasingly-to-the-wealthy/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Are waivers to ‘No Child Left Behind’ providing accountability

28 Jul

All Politics is Local.

Thomas P. O’Neill

Moi would like to modify that quote a bit to all education is local and occurs at the neighborhood school. We really should not be imposing a straight jacket on education by using a one-size-fits-all approach. Every school, in fact, every classroom is its own little microclimate. We should be looking at strategies which work with a given population of children.

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©

Motoko Rich writes in the New York Times article, States With Education Waivers Offer Varied Goals:

A report being issued on Friday by the liberal Center for American Progress shows that while some states have proposed reforms aimed at spurring schools and teachers to improve student performance, others may be introducing weaker measures of accountability.

The increased flexibility of the waivers means that some states will experiment and move ahead,” said Jeremy Ayers, associate director of federal education programs at the organization, “while others may backtrack.”

The No Child Left Behind law has been up for reauthorization since 2007, but so far Congress has failed to pass a new version. The Obama administration has granted waivers to 32 states and the District of Columbia, freeing them from some of the most burdensome provisions of the law, including the requirement that all students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

The waivers allow states to select from a menu of new goals. According to the center’s report, eight states have chosen to cut in half the percentage of students not testing at grade level in reading or math within six years, while one state, Arizona, said it would make all its students proficient by 2020. The majority of states chose to set their own goals.

In reviewing those states’ waiver applications, the report’s authors wrote that it was difficult to discern if those states “meet the high bar” of setting rigorous targets.

The report also found that many states had not outlined how they would hold schools responsible for actually meeting their goals…. 

In reviewing the state waiver applications, the center found that 14 states plan to use growth in student test scores for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

Teachers unions and state education officials have fought over how much weight to accord to student test scores. In New York, the two sides battled for more than two years before settling on a system earlier this year that would base 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student achievement measures.

Given the controversy, education advocates fear that the new teacher evaluation systems could be pushed too quickly.

If there is too much sloppy implementation,” said Amy Wilkins, vice president of the Education Trust, a research and advocacy group that supports using test scores as part of a teacher’s rating, “it will lose credibility and it will be very hard to get back that credibility.”

The Center for American Progress also reviewed how often states would identify their lowest performing schools. Very few states committed to reviewing the lowest 5 percent of schools every year, and the vast majority of the states did not specify how frequently they would do so….http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/education/varied-plans-for-states-with-waivers-no-child-law.html?_r=1&src=rechp

See, States Granted NCLB Waivers Offer Varying Goals For Helping Education Reform, According To Report http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/report-examines-goals-of-_n_1711111.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

The Center for American Progress analyzed “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) waivers in the report, No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second Round Applications:

Ours is not an exhaustive or comprehensive analysis. The Department of Education has already reviewed applications in detail and made judgments on the merits of each. We took a qualitative look across all applications to see what states are doing and to bring attention to interesting or innovative ideas. A few findings
emerged from this review:
• Most states have changed and would change their policies and practices significantly from those under No Child Left Behind. Change has come as a result of various motivations and has led to some improvements and deliberate shifts in policy, several of which are captured by the waiver applications.
• The waiver process itself did not appear to stimulate new innovations aside from accountability, but was an opportunity to articulate a new vision for reform. A number of changes in each state are already underway and in various stages of implementation, but the application process prodded states to articulate a comprehensive plan for improving education.
• States have proposed interesting and promising ideas in each principle area. Some states are pushing new ideas, many of which are promising or innovative, by ensuring all students graduate college and career ready, developing differentiated accountability systems, and improving teacher and leader effectiveness.
• Very few states proposed detailed plans for reducing duplication and unnecessary administrative burden on districts and schools. The goal of the federal flexibility package is to offer needed relief to states; states could benefit from doing the same for their districts and schools.
• Very few states detailed how they would use their 21st Century Community Learning Center funding to increase learning time. About half the states rejected the opportunity for additional federal funding to lengthen the school day, week, or year and those that indicated that they would accept the funding offered little detail on how they would utilize the extra dollars.
• States are using various sources of funding to implement their plans. States do not receive new money under the waivers. As a result states demonstrated a willingness to pursue new reform without additional funding.
In the pages that follow, we outline themes across state applications in the major priorities laid out by the Department of Education—college- and career-ready standards, differentiated accountability systems, and supporting effective instruction and leadership. The fourth principle, reducing duplication and burden,
received scant attention in state applications, and as such is not covered in detail in this report. Our report concludes with recommendations for states and the Department of Education, summarized below.
1. States should be treated as laboratories of reform that set the stage for eventual reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both successes and failures of waiver reforms can and should inform how the act is reauthorized.
2. The Department of Education should ask for, and states should offer, more detail on aspects of state plans. We call on states to provide better, clearer information on how they will ensure students have equitable access to effective teachers; how their school rating system is linked to their annual goals; how they will ensure districts and schools engage in comprehensive approaches to school turnaround; how they will increase learning time; and how they will reduce duplication and administrative burden on districts and schools.
3. The Department of Education should establish a clearinghouse to document and share tools, strategies, and lessons of implementation. In this way states and districts can learn from the successes and challenges faced and overcome by other states and districts.
4. States should learn from other states, either by joining consortia or replicating successful practices. States should consider forming partnerships or consortia with other states to build infrastructure as a group, as opposed to taking on an entire reform alone.
5. The Department of Education should increase its staffing and capacity to oversee and enforce implementation of waiver plans. The sheer variety and complexity of state plans, compared to No Child Left Behind, means the department will need to build capacity to ensure states turn their plans into reality.
6. States should implement their plans as part of a coherent strategy—with clear goals, mid-course corrections, and consequences for failure to make progress. Any of the innovations discussed in this report will fade quickly if they are not implemented with fidelity and persistence as part of a coherent approach to improving the K-12 education system.

No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second Round Applications
Jeremy Ayers and Isabel Owen July 2012
with Glenda Partee and Theodora Chanhttp://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/07/pdf/nochildwaivers.pdf

NCLB was an attempt to introduce accountability in education using a top down approach of federal mandate on what has traditionally been a local subject, management of schools.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

So it is with schools. There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools.  Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools , lists key elements:

Chapter 1 describes the seven characteristics that comprise a successful school. Briefly, they are:

Vision: having a common understanding of goals, principles and expectations for everyone in the learning-community

Leadership: having a group of individuals dedicated to helping the learning-community reach its vision

High Academic Standards: describing what students need to know and be able to do

Standards of the Heart: helping all within the learning community become caring, contributing, productive, and responsible citizens

Family School and Community Partnerships: “making room at the table” for a child’s first and most influential teachers

Professional Development: providing consistent, meaningful opportunities for adults in the school setting to engage in continuous learning

Evidence of Success: collecting and analyzing data about students, programs, and staff

Like, unhappy families, failing schools are probably failing in their own way. Waivers are really just returning local control back to schools. It seems everything old becomes new once again, although a relentless focus on the basics never went out of style. As the Center for American Progress argues in the conclusion to No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second Round Applications, it is incumbent to make sure that states granted waivers are monitored to ensure there is accountability to make sure children in failing schools do not fall through the cracks.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One-size-does-not-fit-all: Nativity Miguel Schools

9 Apr

In  Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it, moi said:

People want an education for a variety of reasons. Some have a love of learning. Others want to attend a good college or vocational school. Still others, see an education as a ticket to a good job. Increasingly for schools, the goal is to prepare kids with the skills to attend and succeed at college. In order to give children the skills to succeed, schools need teachers who are effective at educating their population of kids. There are many themes in the attempt to answer the question, what will prepare kids for what comes after high school. What will prepare kids for what comes after high school is a good basic education. The schools that provide a good basic education are relentless about the basics. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/who-says-black-children-cant-learn-some-schools-gets-it/

Brian K reported in the Central District News which covers the ethnic district in Seattle about a feasibility study for a Nativity School. In the article, Exploration of a New Nativity Middle School Here in the Central District of Seattle, Brian reports:

A Feasibility Study is currently underway to explore the opening of The Seattle Nativity School, (www.seattlenativity.org) a tuition-free, faith-based Catholic middle school here in Seattle’s Central District.  The school will operate under the Nativity Miguel model, as part of a network of over 60 existing schools in over 20 states across the US & Canada.  

The first Nativity School was founded on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1971 in response to an observation by local Jesuit priests that young Latino boys were struggling to keep up with their peers academically. So the Jesuits established the Nativity Mission Center, which kept local kids in school for extended hours, and away from dangerous influences in the neighborhood.  They provided a rigorous and holistic curriculum, wrapped in an environment of support. Those at the school became the student’s ‘family.’

Since then, Nativity middle schools have spread across the United States, serving grades 5th through 8th at 60 schools in over 20 states.  These schools offer a non-tuition-based, extended day, extended year education that is augmented by a graduate support system.  The average student enters a Nativity school often achieving one or two years below grade level in standardized tests.  By graduation day, he or she is prepared to succeed in the elite local public and private high schools, with the ultimate goal of attending university.  The approach has been successful in graduating students from high school and college at rates 20-30% higher than their peer groups in public schools.  

In Seattle, we have diverse communities in need who are challenged to find the type of holistic support – spiritual, educational and emotional – that is required for them to break the cycle of poverty.

http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2012/04/06/exploration-of-a-new-nativity-middle-school-here-in-the-central-district-of-seattle

There is no “magic bullet” or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of students.

Here is some information about Nativity Miguel schools:

1. What makes a school a Nativity Miguel School?

All Nativity Miguel Network Schools adhere to the Nine Mission Effectiveness Standards.  These include:

1.  Faith Based
A Nativity Miguel School is explicitly faith-based in its mission.

2.  Serves the Economically Poor and Marginalized
A Nativity Miguel School offers a financially accessible, not tuition-based education to students from low-income families in impoverished communities and reflects the faith, cultural, and racial demographics of the local community….
6.  Commitment Beyond Graduation
It is the expectation that any and all students in a Nativity Miguel School will graduate from high school and go on to some form of post-secondary education.  A Nativity Miguel School offers a Graduate Support Program that eases a graduate’s transition into high school; tutors, advocates for, and maintains a connection with all graduates during high school; supports the high school in preparing the student for graduation and post-secondary education; and tracks the growth and achievements of all graduates.

2. What are the benefits of being a member of the Nativity Miguel Network of Schools?

The Nativity Miguel Network empowers middle schools to provide a unique, faith-based education that breaks the cycle of poverty in underserved communities across America. In turn, our schools empower thousands of students at a critical developmental crossroads to realize their potential, forge brighter futures and enjoy the lifelong benefits of a holistic education.

The Network provides many valuable services to member schools.  Professional development opportunities are available through 4 conferences and training sessions offered annually to school presidents and development directors, principals, teachers and graduate support directors.  Further, the Network works to ensure adherence to the Mission Effectiveness Standards and sharing of best practices through the Mission Assessment Program, the primary component of which is the collegial visit process.  

The Network’s resources and expertise help each member school to excel in every aspect of our common mission: to break the cycle of poverty through education.  Network staff personally collaborates with school leadership teams to achieve the best outcomes for students.  Network staff also secures national funding for projects that benefit member schools, including mission assessments, professional development and data collection and analysis.

3. What does the NativityMiguel Network of Schools do?  

MISSION STATEMENT
The Nativity Miguel Network leads member schools to excellence in education for underserved communities.  Adhering to nine mission effectiveness standards, our schools deliver a uniquely effective, faith-based education to the middle school students in their care.
The Network strengthens member schools. •    Our resources and expertise help each member school to excel in every aspect of our common mission.
•    Network staff personally collaborate with school leadership teams to achieve the best outcomes for students.
•    We secure national funding for projects that benefit member schools, including mission assessments, professional development and data collection and analysis.

Network schools change lives.
•    Many students come to us below grade level in academic and social skills—but graduate at or above grade level.

We keep students engaged, on-course and out of trouble.

•    Our average school day lasts 9.6 hours—three more than most public schools—and our schools enjoy daily attendance rates of 97%.
•    Along with an extended day, we have an extended year—Member schools offer summer learning opportunities.
•    Through our unique Graduate Support Program, students have access to valuable mentoring through high school and the college admissions process.

Our model can only thrive with donor support. 

•    Nativity Miguel schools serve only low-income families; 89% of our students qualify for free and reduced meals.
•    Tuitions support only about 5% of a school’s operating budget. Donors account for the rest.
•    Donations to the Network are investments that increase resources for member schools and generate better outcomes for students.

4. Why do NativityMiguel Schools have an extended day and school year?  

The Nativity Miguel Network realizes that our schools serve low-income, inner city students who may not have access to adequate resources in their communities.  By offering an extended day and extended year program, our schools ensure that students have a safe, engaging, and resourceful environment in which to grow and mature.

Results
•    Few students come to Nativity Miguel schools contemplating college but our students graduate knowing they will succeed.

•    Investing in our students brings them hope instead of harm, promise beyond poverty and confidence instead of confusion.

•    What our students lack economically, they make up for in spirit, character and motivation.

5. In what ways does the GSP support high school and college students?

 Our Unique Graduate Support Program offers many resources and experiences for our students in order to ensure success after graduation.  Every NativityMiguel student and alumni has exclusive access to a GSP director for mentoring purposes to ensure academic and professional success.  At each step along the way mentors help demystify application processes and guarantee smooth transitions between schools.  Together the GSP staff and students have the oppurtunity to go on guided college tours, attend regional college fairs, and to attend a week-long retreat to share challenges and success stories.  6. What is the history of the Nativity Miguel Network of Schools? Schools within the Nativity Miguel Network of Schools are patterned after the Nativity Mission Center which opened its doors in 1971 to middle school aged boys growing up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The school was started to provide the boys – many of whom were new to the country – with an educational program that would help them excel academically, socially and spiritually.Because many of the boys were testing two and three grades below their grade level, the teachers at Nativity Mission developed a new approach. The school day was lengthened, almost doubling the amount of time the boys would be in school were they in the local public school. A commitment to maintain a low student to teacher ratio ensured time for one-on-one instruction. The summer camp the center had been conducting became incorporated into the school curriculum, and, most importantly, Nativity made a commitment to follow their young alumni through high school and even on to college.

The effectiveness of the Nativity Miguel model has inspired educators across the country dedicated to reaching our underserved youth to open schools. By the late 1980s, schools patterned after the Nativity Mission Center began opening. In 1993, the Christian Brothers opened the first Miguel School in Providence, Rhode Island. These Miguel schools shared many of the same attributes and approaches of the Nativity school.  The NativityMiguel Network was born of a merger between the two networks that grew out of the replication of this school model nationally, and schools are now classified only as Nativity Miguel schools.

7. Do Nativity Miguel network schools serve only Catholic students?

No.  In fact, many of of our students are not Catholic. Neither are all of our schools, even though each offers a faith-based education.  Here is the national breakdown of 4500 of our students:

Roman Catholic 42.2%
Non-Catholic Christian 41.9%
Other 12.4%
Non-religious 02.3%
Muslim 00.6%
Buddhist 00.5%
Jewish <0.1%
Hindu <0.1% 

8. How can a school become a member of the Nativit Miguel Network of Schools?

Schools interested in seeking membership into the Nativity Miguel Network of Schools should visit our Starting a Network School page.  For further information contact Melodie Hessling, the Director of Mission Effectiveness, at 202 832-3667.

http://www.nativitymiguelschools.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=431&Itemid=87

There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools. Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools, lists key elements:

VISION

Definition

A vision represents clearly articulated statements of goals, principles, and expectations for the entire learning community. A common unifying vision is achieved when the administration, teachers, support staff, students, families, and demographically representative community members are able to clearly communicate that vision through the daily operation of the school district. A vision becomes a guiding force when all educational decisions are based on its framework and goals.

Rationale

A clear vision is like a good road map. Without a good map it is difficult to determine where you are going and, impossible to know when you arrive. A dynamic vision engages and represents the whole community and outlines a path to follow. The vision allows school leaders to create a compelling view that excites and engages other constituents to join in the educational journey.

Key Ideas

  1. Effective schools have a clearly defined vision for the improvement of learning for each and every student.

  2. Emphasis is on the achievement of a broadly defined set of standards that includes academic knowledge, skill, development, and standards of the heart.

  3. Goals are framed in a way that can be benchmarked through the school year and measured at year’s end. Progress is recorded and used for improvement efforts.

  4. Communication about the goals as well as progress toward them is a regular part of school activities among all constituents.

Successful Schools Have a Vision That:

  1. is accompanied by other strategic planning. Strategic planning is a data-driven process that guides decision making, as well as program implementation components such as:

    • goal statements

    • means to accomplish the goals

    • timelines

  2. links education standards to teacher expectations and student performance

  3. fosters district wide expectations and experiences that result in all students mastering challenging standards at proficient or above levels

  4. engages the entire learning community to take responsibility for all students’ learning

  5. includes carefully defined terms that are known and supported by all constituents

  6. is developed with representation from a wide variety of publics and demographic groups

  7. drives resource allocation in the learning as well as the broader community

  8. allows the societal, academic, and organizational components of education to operate in a seamless manner

  9. articulates the learning community’s commitment to both excellence and equity in the organization

  10. embraces the dual mission of creating in each student solid and rigorous academic achievement and civic caring and responsibility

Criticism WILL occur if you are doing something that is not inline with others’ expectations. It IS going to cost to educate children out of the cycle of poverty. Still, that means that society should not make the attempt. There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.

Related:

The ‘whole child’ approach to education https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

Defining basic education: Good schools and effective schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/defining-basic-education-good-schools-and-effective-schools/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it

22 Mar

People want an education for a variety of reasons. Some have a love of learning. Others want to attend a good college or vocational school. Still others, see an education as a ticket to a good job. Increasingly for schools, the goal is to prepare kids with the skills to attend and succeed at college. In order to give children the skills to succeed, schools need teachers who are effective at educating their population of kids. There are many themes in the attempt to answer the question, what will prepare kids for what comes after high school. What will prepare kids for what comes after high school is a good basic education. The schools that provide a good basic education are relentless about the basics.

Sharon Otterman has a good news story in the New York Times about how a relentless focus on the basics can yield results. In Brooklyn School Scores High Despite Poverty Otterman reports:     

To ace the state standardized tests, which begin on Monday, Public School 172 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, finds money for coaches in writing, reading and math. Teachers keep detailed notes on each child, writing down weaknesses and encouraging them to repeat tasks. There is after-school help and Saturday school.

But at the start of this school year, seven or eight students were still falling behind. So the school hired a speech therapist who could analyze why they and other students stumbled in language. A psychologist produced detailed assessments and recommendations. A dental clinic staffed by Lutheran Medical Center opened an office just off the fourth-grade classrooms, diagnosing toothaches, a possible source of distraction, and providing free cleanings.

Perfection may seem a quixotic goal in New York City, where children enter school from every imaginable background and ability level. But on the tests, P.S. 172, also called the Beacon School of Excellence, is coming close — even though 80 percent of its students are poor enough to qualify for free lunch, nearly a quarter receive special education services, and many among its predominately Hispanic population do not speak English at home.

In 2009, the 580-student primary school, tucked between fast-food restaurants and gas stations in a semi-industrial strip of Fourth Avenue, topped the city with its fourth-grade math scores, with all students passing, all but one with a mark of “advanced,” or Level 4. In English, all but one of 75 fourth graders passed, earning a Level 3 or 4, placing it among the city’s top dozen schools.

On average, at schools with the same poverty rate, only 66 percent of the students pass the English test, and 29 percent score at an advanced level in math, according to a New York Times analysis of Department of Education statistics. And though it is less well known, P.S. 172 regularly outperforms its neighbors in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, where parents raise hundreds of thousands a year for extra aides and enrichment.

The school’s approach, while impressive in its attention to detail, starts with a simple formula: “Teach, assess, teach, assess,” said Jack Spatola, its principal since 1984.

Mr. Spatola attributed the coaches and other extra help to careful budgeting and fighting for every dollar from the Department of Education; the school’s cost per pupil, in fact, is lower than the city’s average. [Emphasis Added]

What this school does well is know its student population and design assessments and interventions targeted at its population of kids. It is an example of the think small not small minded philosophy.    

Betsy Hammond has penned The Oregonian story, Predominantly African American AP calculus class is exceptionally rare, marked by camaraderie and success:

The mood is cheerful as seniors in this small calculus class at De La Salle North Catholic High begin a warm-up exercise. They’re seeking the integral of x divided by x-squared minus four.

They work fast, cranking out steps that rely on u-substitution and the anti-differentiation rule. Clearly, they find this a cinch.

Teacher Scott Reis asks for a volunteer to show the answer on the board, and Alex Faison-Donahoe jumps up: “Mr. Reis, let me do it!”

The eagerness and camaraderie in the room at the private North Portland school are not what you might expect in a tough Advanced Placement calculus class, but they’re genuine.

Even more unusual: Two-thirds of the students, including Faison-Donahoe, are African American; only one of the 15 students is white. .

That’s a sharp contrast with other advanced high school math classes in Oregon. Among the state’s 42 public schools that enroll at least 25 African Americans and offer calculus, just five had even a single black student in calculus, according to recently released federal civil rights data from 2009-10. No school had more than five black students in the course.

Schools that enrolled substantial numbers of African Americans but none in calculus included Beaverton’s Westview High, Portland’s Grant and Madison high schools, and David Douglas High in outer Southeast Portland, the federal data show.

Only Roosevelt High, also in North Portland, has come close to matching private De La Salle’s track record. It has 31 students in AP calculus this year, including 10 African Americans and five Latinos….

De La Salle, a low-cost Catholic high school that enrolls promising students from low-income backgrounds, didn’t end up with a predominantly black calculus class easily or by design.

Students admitted to De La Salle as freshmen arrive, on average, a year and a half behind academically. They come from schools including Portsmouth, Ockley Green and H.B. Lee middle schools — high-poverty schools with low test scores.

But they also are hungry — to learn, to work hard, to get to college. “This is a tough place with a high bar,” says Principal Tim Joy. “The primary thing we look for (in applicants) is desire….”
A culture of success

Lisa Delpit, author of the new book “‘Multiplication is for White People’; Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children,” says widespread underestimation of black students’ abilities to succeed at rigorous academics is societal and begins before African American children start school.

She says Reis and De La Salle have overcome the problem in exactly the right way — by assembling a big group of black students, not just a handful, to take a demanding class, then helping the students form a sense of community.

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2012/03/predominantly_african_american.html

Another example of a school that is relentless about the basics.

There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools. Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools, lists key elements:

VISION

Definition

A vision represents clearly articulated statements of goals, principles, and expectations for the entire learning community. A common unifying vision is achieved when the administration, teachers, support staff, students, families, and demographically representative community members are able to clearly communicate that vision through the daily operation of the school district. A vision becomes a guiding force when all educational decisions are based on its framework and goals.

Rationale

A clear vision is like a good road map. Without a good map it is difficult to determine where you are going and, impossible to know when you arrive. A dynamic vision engages and represents the whole community and outlines a path to follow. The vision allows school leaders to create a compelling view that excites and engages other constituents to join in the educational journey.

Key Ideas

  1. Effective schools have a clearly defined vision for the improvement of learning for each and every student.
  2. Emphasis is on the achievement of a broadly defined set of standards that includes academic knowledge, skill, development, and standards of the heart.
  3. Goals are framed in a way that can be benchmarked through the school year and measured at year’s end. Progress is recorded and used for improvement efforts.
  4. Communication about the goals as well as progress toward them is a regular part of school activities among all constituents.

Successful Schools Have a Vision That:

  1. is accompanied by other strategic planning. Strategic planning is a data-driven process that guides decision making, as well as program implementation components such as:
    • goal statements
    • means to accomplish the goals
    • timelines
  2. links education standards to teacher expectations and student performance
  3. fosters district wide expectations and experiences that result in all students mastering challenging standards at proficient or above levels
  4. engages the entire learning community to take responsibility for all students’ learning
  5. includes carefully defined terms that are known and supported by all constituents
  6. is developed with representation from a wide variety of publics and demographic groups
  7. drives resource allocation in the learning as well as the broader community
  8. allows the societal, academic, and organizational components of education to operate in a seamless manner
  9. articulates the learning community’s commitment to both excellence and equity in the organization
  10. embraces the dual mission of creating in each student solid and rigorous academic achievement and civic caring and responsibility

Note, De La Salle North Catholic High is one example of what is possible with school choice.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Defining basic education: Good schools and effective schools

6 Feb

One of the mantras of this blog is that education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be involved.   Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class in America

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are. The question for those who believe that ALL children should receive a good basic education is whether there is a difference between good and effective schools.

Joanne Yatvin, is a longtime public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teaches part-time at Portland State University and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools. Yatvin has written a thoughtful Washington Post piece, The difference between good schools and effective schools.

I just found a book review I wrote for The Elementary School Journal in 1986. The book I reviewed was McDonogh 15: Becoming a School by Lucianne Bond Carmichael.  (If you’ve never read it, you should get a copy, read it, and hold it close to your heart forever.  Better yet, buy several copies and send them to your federal and state legislators.)

Reading it reinforced and expanded my own idea of what a truly good school is and the specific things it does to empower its students and strengthen its teachers. I will quote one section of my review: a definition and description of a good school based partly on Carmichael’s experience as a principal and partly on my own.  Because I am taking the quoted section out of context and because educational terminology has changed over the years, I have altered some of it but the meaning remains the same:

To help you und erstand what I have learned from McDonogh 15, I will describe a good school as I know it and compare it to today’s popular ideal called an ”effective school.”  Let me start with a general definition of a good school and go on with more detailed descriptions of both types of schools:

A good school is a place where children learn enough worthwhile things to make a strong start in life, where a foundation is laid that supports later learning, and where children develop the desire to learn more.

 Specifically, a good school mirrors the realities of life in an ordered, adult society; it is rational and safe, a practice ground for the things people do in the outside world. The school creates a sense of community that permits personal expression within a framework of social responsibility. It focuses on learnings that grow through use–with or without more schooling–such as communication skills, decision making, craftsmanship, and group interaction.  It makes children think of themselves as people who find strength, nourishment, and joy in learning.

 In contrast, the effective school looks at learning in terms of test scores in a limited number of academic areas.  It does not take into consideration problem-solving abilities, social skills, or even complex academic skills.  It does not differentiate between dynamic and inert knowledge; it ignores motivation.  When we hear of a school where test scores are in the 90th percentile, should we not also ask what that school does to prepare students to live the next sixty years of their lives?

A good school has a broad-based and realistic curriculum with subject matter chosen not only for its relevance to higher education and jobs, but also for family and community membership and personal enrichment.  It uses teaching practices that simulate the way people live in the outside world.  Children are actively involved in productive tasks that combine and extend their skills.  They initiate projects, make their own decisions, enjoy using their skills, show off their accomplishments, and look for harder, more exciting work to do.

 The effective school asks much less.  Children who “cover” a traditional curriculum in order to “master” as much of it as possible are not initiators, seekers, or builders.  They are at best reactors.  The knowledge they dutifully soak up is not necessarily broad based or useful.  It is taught because it is likely to appear on tests.  It is quickly and easily forgotten.

 Any school can become a good school when its teachers have made the connections to life in the outside world that I have been talking about. It operates as an organic entity—not a machine—moving always to expand its basic nature rather than to tack on artificial appendages.  A good school is like a healthy tree.  As it grows, it sinks its roots deep into its native soil: it adapts to the surrounding climate and vegetation; its branches thicken for support and spread for maximum exposure to the sun: it makes its own food; it heals its own wounds; and, in its season, it puts forth fresh leaves, blossoms, and fruit.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-difference-between-good-schools-and-effective-schools/2012/01/31/gIQAlQIlsQ_blog.html

There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools. Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools , lists key elements:

Chapter 1 describes the seven characteristics that comprise a successful school. Briefly, they are:

  • Vision: having a common understanding of goals, principles and expectations for everyone in the learning-community
  • Leadership: having a group of individuals dedicated to helping the learning-community reach its vision
  • High Academic Standards: describing what students need to know and be able to do
  • Standards of the Heart: helping all within the learning community become caring, contributing, productive, and responsible citizens
  • Family School and Community Partnerships: “making room at the table” for a child’s first and most influential teachers
  • Professional Development: providing consistent, meaningful opportunities for adults in the school setting to engage in continuous learning
  • Evidence of Success: collecting and analyzing data about students, programs, and staff http://dpi.wi.gov/cssch/cssintro.html

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids.   

What does it Mean to Be Relentless About the Basics:      

  1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
  2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
  3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
  4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
  5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.   

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©