Tag Archives: School Turnaround

Institute of Education Sciences study: States lack capacity to improve failing schools

10 May

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.

Lyndsey Layton wrote in the Washington Post article, Most states lacked expertise to improve worst schools:

The Obama administration handed out more than $3 billion to the states and the District of Columbia to help them turn around their worst-performing schools as part of the federal stimulus spending that took place after the 2008 recession.

But most states lacked the capacity to improve those schools, according to a new analysis by federal researchers.

Although turning around the worst schools was a priority for nearly every state, most did not have the staff, technology and expertise to pull those schools out of the bottom rankings, according to a brief released Tuesday by the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department.

With funds allocated by Congress under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration spent $3.5 million on School Improvement Grants to states, directing them to focus the money on their lowest-performing schools.

School Improvement Grants had been part of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal education law. But stimulus spending increased the budget for the grants sixfold.

Under the Obama administration, schools could receive up to $2 million annually for three years. The money was divided among the states and D.C. according a federal formula. About 1,500 schools received grants.

Any school accepting a grant had to agree to adopt one of four strategies favored by the administration: Replace the principal and at least 50 percent of the staff; close the school and enroll students in another, better-performing school; close the school and reopen it as a charter school; or transform the school through new instructional strategies and other techniques.

While 84 percent of states told the researchers that improving the worst schools was a top priority, 58 percent said it was one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. Eighty percent of states and the District told federal researchers that their states had at least one significant gap in expertise needed to significantly improve the worst schools….
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/most-states-lacked-expertise-to-improve-worst-schools/2015/05/05/0eb82b98-f35f-11e4-bcc4-e8141e5eb0c9_story.html

Here is the abstract:

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround

One objective of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) School Improvement Grants (SIG) and Race to the Top (RTT) program is to help states enhance their capacity to support the turnaround of low-performing schools. This capacity may be important, given how difficult it is to produce substantial and sustained achievement gains in low-performing schools. There is limited existing research on the extent to which states have the capacity to support school turnaround and are pursuing strategies to enhance that capacity. This brief documents states’ capacity to support school turnaround as of spring 2012 and spring 2013. It examines capacity issues for all states and for those that reported both prioritizing turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it. Key findings, based on interviews with administrators from 49 states and the District of Columbia, include the following:

• More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools.
• 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.
• More than 85 percent of states reported using strategies to enhance their capacity to support school turnaround, with the use of intermediaries decreasing over time and the use of organizational or administrative structures increasing over time.
• States that reported both prioritizing school turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it were no more likely to report using intermediaries than other states but all 21 of these states reported having at least one organizational or administrative structure compared with 86 percent (25 of 29) of all other states.

View, download, and print the report as a PDF file (2.8 MB)
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20154012/pdf/20154012.pdf

Here is the press release:

Press Release

New Brief by AIR, Mathematica Experts Examines States’ Capacity to Support Turnaround in Low-Performing Schools

A new research brief released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) documents states’ capacity to support school turnaround as of spring 2012 and spring 2013. The brief found that at least three-quarters of states reported having “significant gaps” in expertise to support turning around low-performing schools.

Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) May 05, 2015

A new research brief released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) documents states’ capacity to support school turnaround as of spring 2012 and spring 2013.
The study found that at least three-quarters of states reported having “significant gaps” in expertise to support turning around low-performing schools.

The brief resulted from collaboration between experts at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Mathematica Policy Research. It is the fourth brief in a large-scale evaluation of School Improvement Grant (SIG) and Race to the Top (RTT) programs
.
“Improving low-performing schools does not happen overnight,” said Courtney Tanenbaum, a senior researcher at AIR. “Turning them around is a complex and challenging endeavor. So it is not surprising that states would feel a need for more support in this area.”
Through structured telephone interviews with administrators in 49 states and the District of Columbia, the study found:

• More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent of all states found turnaround very difficult.
• Thirty-eight states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 states (80 percent) in 2013.
• More than 85 percent of states reported using strategies to enhance their capacity to support school turnaround. The use of intermediaries decreased over time, and the use of organizational or administrative structures increased over time.
• Twenty-one states reported prioritizing school turnaround and having significant gaps in expertise to support it. Although these states were no more likely to use intermediaries than other states, all 21 reported having at least one organizational or administrative structure to improve their capacity to support turnaround, compared with 86 percent (25 of 29) of other states.

“States can play an important role in tackling the challenges of school turnaround, for example, by arranging external support to address barriers to improvement,” said Susanne James-Burdumy, Mathematica senior fellow and director of the evaluation. “For this reason, SIG and RTT provided resources to improve state capacity to support turnaround, but concerns linger about state capacity to continue that support once SIG and RTT funding runs out. Our brief sheds light on the specific capacity constraints states are facing and where additional supports could be warranted.”
To view the full report, go to http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20154012/.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit http://www.air.org.
About Mathematica Policy Research

Mathematica Policy Research seeks to improve public well-being by conducting studies and assisting clients with program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data analytics and management. Its clients include foundations, federal and state governments, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company is headquartered in Princeton, NJ, with offices in Ann Arbor, MI; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC. For more information, visit http://www.mathematica-mpr.com.
Andrew Brownstein
American Institutes for Research
+1 (202) 403-6043

Andrew J. Rotherham wrote in the Time article, Can Parents Take Over Schools? http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/08/can-parents-take-over-schools/#ixzz1ygVQ5kIA
The point is, there is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of children.

Related:
Teacher Cooperatives
http://educationnext.org/teacher-cooperatives/

Can Teachers Run Their Own Schools?
http://charlestkerchner.com/

Can Teachers Run Schools?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-vander-ark/can-teachers-run-schools_b_803312.html

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School choice: Community schools

23 Oct

Moi wrote in Improving education: Community schools:
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. For some communities and for some children, “community schools” might improve education achievement. The Coalition for Community Schools is a great resource for those interested in “community schools.”

A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends.
Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:
o Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.
o Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.
o Families and neighborhoods are safe, supportive and engaged.
o Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning.
To learn more about the Coalition’s vision of a community school, read the section An Enduring Vision in the Coalition’s report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. Also, watch as the U.S. Secretary of Education speak of the importance of community schools on Charlie Rose.
For more information on what it means to be a community school, read Community Schools: Partnerships for Excellence (PDF, 426k).
http://www.communityschools.org/aboutschools/what_is_a_community_school.aspx

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post wrote an interesting article about “community schools.”

In Why community schools are part of the answer, Strauss wrote:

Community schools, by directly dealing with many of the out-of-school issues that affect how students do in school — such as violence, family mobility, etc. — help to create the conditions that allow young people to actually concentrate on academics. Community schools seek to create conditions for learning that include:
*Fostering early childhood development through high-quality comprehensive programs.
*Providing students qualified teachers, challenging curriculum and high standards and expectations.
*Addressing the basic physical, mental and emotional health needs of families.
*Creating safe, supportive school climates through community engagement.
There is not a single model of community school initiatives but rather a number of different ones that share common principles, according to the Coalition for Community Schools. The coalition is an alliance of elementary, secondary and post-secondary organizations at the state, local and national level that are involved with education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services and more.
One of the many models of community schools, which serve millions of children around the country, is called “Schools of the 21st Century,” which provides school-based child care and family support services.
Created by Edward Ziegler, a professor at Yale University who was an architect of the Head Start program, this model is now being used in 1,300 schools across the country and turns regular public schools into year-round centers where different services are provided to families the before, during and after school hours. You can learn about other models here.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-community-schools-are-part-of-the-answer/2011/12/15/gIQAdu9T4O_blog.html

Strauss has updated here report with a piece by Brock Cohen.

In the Washington Post article, Why community schools are a no-brainer, Cohen wrote:

The community schools framework rejects this notion. This is because each of its foundational principles reveals the imperative of addressing low achievement through a holistic course of action. Such a transition represents a radical departure from past school initiatives because it has the audacity to shine a light on gaps carved out by social inequity. As importantly, the movement’s current champions (Sen. Liu among them) refuse to shy away from naming poverty and social injustice as the primary impediments to student learning. As a call to arms, they direct us to the sprawling body of evidence that proves how futile any reform effort will become without quickly addressing 0-4 poverty-induced learning gaps, summer literacy erosion, or a failure to ensure that all children have quality physical and mental health care.
They also emphasize how community schools are as much an exercise in sober fiscal pragmatism as they are a moral call to action. The consequences of academic failure are everyone’s problem, costing the state over $58 billion each year in incarceration expenses, health care, and taxable income.
But the gaps aren’t insurmountable. They can gradually narrow by leveraging partnerships; engaging families; and re-defining schools as safe, stable, welcoming community spaces. And because the needs of children vary across demographics and geographies, the model embraces flexibility: Each school site should customize its own approach in conjunction with local agencies and civic partners that understand the primacy of nurturing the whole child. So while community schools seek to address all domains of student need, some may allocate more resources toward specific services or strategies. For example:
• Pasadena’s Madison Elementary has teamed with Healthy Start to provide comprehensive on-site health, wellness, and social, and parent education to all of its students and families
• Four Redwood City Schools have formed a consortium with civic partners to make 0-5 education and enrichment a regional imperative.
• Behind the support of the Community Heath & Adolescent Mentoring Program for Success (CHAMPS), Oakland Tech High has detailed programs in place to boost student engagement and youth leadership.
• Joining forces with Inner City Struggle (ICS), East L.A.’s Esteban E. Torres High School offers primary healthcare, mental health, reproductive services, and dental care to all of its students.
Past school reform initiatives focused on channeling limited fiscal and human resource inputs to schools and districts. What makes the community schools framework more substantive and sustainable is that it establishes inputs as the process by which each of a child’s needs domains are fulfilled. If community partners and resources (as inputs) are actively engaged in addressing these needs (health, wellness, literacy and cognitive growth) the outcomes will take care of themselves.
The past decade-plus of school reform has been as notable for its soaring rhetoric as for its inaction on the issues that truly hinder learning and achievement. But as an educator who’s fresh from the classroom, I cannot stress how gratifying it is to see evidence of collective and intentional action springing up in schools throughout the state. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that each of the schools on the Pathways to Partnerships bus tour has shown seismic improvements in campus-wide learning, health, and wellness since fully committing to the community schools framework. But scores of others throughout California have followed the same pattern.
Still, it goes without saying that community schools are not a cure for soaring child poverty (afflicting 1 in 4 children statewide). And an even bigger nemesis may be the “not my kid” mindset that seems to afflict a vast number of citizens who remain undeterred by California’s nationwide ranking of 49 in per-pupil expenditures…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/23/why-community-schools-are-a-no-brainer/

Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education:
Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.
The National Education Association (NEA) describes the “whole child” approach to learning in the paper, Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child.

Meeting the needs of the whole child requires:

• Addressing multiple dimensions, including students’ physical, social and emotional health and well-being.
• Ensuring equity, adequacy and sustainability in resources and quality among public schools and districts.
• Ensuring that students are actively engaged in a wide variety of experiences and settings within—and outside—the classroom.
• Providing students with mentors and counselors as necessary to make them feel safe and secure.
• Ensuring that the condition of schools is modern and up-to-date, and that schools provide access to a broad array of resources.
• Reducing class size so that students receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.
• Encouraging parental and community involvement. http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/WholeChildBackgrounder.pdf

ASCD, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) along with the NEA is leading in the adoption of the “whole child” approach.

Sean Slade, director of Healthy School Communities, a program of the ASCD, an education leadership organization wrote the Washington Post article, Taking a stand for ‘the whole child’ approach to school reform.

A whole child approach to education enhances learning by addressing each student’s social, emotional, physical, and academic needs through the shared contributions of schools, families, communities, and policymakers. It is a move away from education policy that far too narrowly focuses on student standardized test scores as the key school accountability measure and that has resulted in the narrowing of curriculum as well as rigid teaching and learning environments.
The true measure of student success is much more than a test score, and ensuring that young people achieve in and out of school requires support well beyond effective academic instruction. The demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education to fully prepare our nation’s youth for college, career, and citizenship.
Our last two Vision in Action Award Winners, Price Laboratory School (PLS) in Iowa and Quest Early College High School in Texas, exemplify what we mean. Both of these schools work to ensure that each child is healthy, safe, supported, engaged and challenged, whether it is through foundation of daily physical education for all grades K-12; or the weekly health programs promoting empowerment, fresh and organic foods, as is the case at Price Lab; or yearlong personal wellness plans, and a focus on social/emotional as well as physical health at Quest
Lessons and projects extend outside the classroom walls and into the local community. They are adapted to engage students and reworked to provide for personal learning styles and interest. Advisory groups – or “families” as they are called at Quest – abound and are a crucial part in making each teacher, student and family feel respected. And in both schools all are expected to achieve and are provided the mechanisms to do so. They don’t just set the bar high. They provide the steps and supports to get over that bar.
Both schools have gone beyond just a vision for educating the whole child to actions that result in learners who are knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling.
But this ideal should not be found only in the the occasional school. It should be found in all schools….
If you think a child’s worth is more than a test score, sign ASCD’s petition to create a President’s Council on the Whole Child.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/taking-a-stand-for-the-whole-child-approach-to-school-reform/2012/02/05/gIQARBcM0Q_blog.html

Many of the schools and neighborhoods facing challenges are where there are pockets of high unemployment and underemployment with high levels of family instability. Children in these neighborhoods face a myriad of challenges which require an more comprehensive approach to education. See, Christina Silva’s Huffington Post article, 1 in 5 U.S. Children Lives in Poverty http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/1-in-5-us-children-live-i_n_929424.html

ASCD is promoting the Whole Child Initiative:

Explore resources and opportunities for action here and on http://www.wholechildeducation.org, and together we’ll change the face of education policy and practice. Find sets of indicators related to each tenet below. Taken together across all five tenets and the central necessities of collaboration, coordination, and integration, these indicators may serve as a needs assessment, set of strategic goals and outcomes, framework for decision making, or the definition of what a whole child approach to education truly requires. Download theindicators (PDF).
Whole Child Tenets
o Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
o Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
o Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
o Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
o Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.
http://www.ascd.org/whole-child.aspx

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

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Study:School reform, like politics is local

3 Oct

Moi wrote in The love affair with the Finnish education system:

In U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses, moi said:

Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/u-s-education-failure-running-out-of-excuses/

Many educators around the world have a love affair with the Finnish education system. The question is what if anything which is successful about the Finnish system can be transported to other cultures?

The Pearson Foundation lists some key facts about Finland in their video series,Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education

Key facts

Finland’s society is relatively homogeneous. Out of a population of 5.3 million, only 3.8% are foreign-born, against an OECD average of 12.9%. Finland spends 5.9% of its gross domestic product on education, slightly above the OECD average of 5.2%.

  • Finland recruits its teachers from the top 10% of graduates. From primary through upper secondary level, all teachers are required to have a Master’s degree.

  • Finnish teachers spend 592 hours per year teaching in class, less than the OECD average of 703 hours. This allows more time for supporting students with learning difficulties.

  • At least two out of five Finnish school students benefit from some type of special intervention during their secondary schooling.

Outcomes

Finland was the top performer in the PISA 2000 tests and it has consistently featured among the top performers since then. In 2009, the number of Finnish students reaching the top level of performance in science was three times the OECD average.

  • Upper secondary students are expected to design their own individual learning programs within a modular structure.

  • In 2008, Finland’s upper secondary graduation rate was 93%, against an OECD average of 80%.

  • In 2008, more than 40% of Finns between 20 and 29 were enrolled at university, well above the OECD average of 25%. http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/oecd/finland.html

Pasi Sahlberg urges a measured analysis in his Washington Post article.

Pasi Sahlberg, author of “ Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland? writes in the Washington Post article, What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform:

What I have to say, however, is not always what they want to hear. While it is true that we can certainly learn from foreign systems and use them as backdrops for better understanding of our own, we cannot simply replicate them. What, then, can’t the United States learn from Finland? https://drwilda.com/2012/04/17/the-love-affair-with-the-finnish-education-system/

There are probably some lessons which can be learned from the Finnish experience, but we shouldn’t be looking through rose colored glasses. Just a Tip O’Neil famously commented, “All politics is local.” All school reform is local as well. Dr. Tina Trujillo and Dr. Michelle Renee have written the study, Current School Turnaround Policies ‘More Likely to Cause Upheaval Than to Help.’ 

The National Education Policy Center has released the Trujillo and Renee study about school reform:

Study: Current School Turnaround Policies ‘More Likely to Cause Upheaval Than to Help’ 

Collaboration, investment can improve public schooling in disadvantaged communities 

Contact

Jamie Horwitz
jhdcpr@starpower.net
202-549-4921

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/95t48jr

BOULDER, CO (October 1, 2012) — A new report, “Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning from Evidence,” by Tina Trujillo at the University of California, Berkeley and Michelle Renée of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, suggests that government agencies and policy-makers, including the U.S. Department of Education, would be wise to look at educational research as they guide school turnarounds. Evidence shows that top-down, punitive efforts that are currently in vogue are ineffective and counterproductive. A collaborative, community-driven approach combined with significant, sustained financial investment and a focus on teaching and learning has been proven to be the better path to school improvement.

“We appreciate the Obama Administration’s efforts to try to improve troubled public schools,” Trujillo stated. “But good intentions are not enough. We need to move past old reform strategies that research shows destabilize public schools and instead increase our investment in these schools and in the people.”

In 2009, the administration announced its intention to turn around 5,000 of the nation’s lowest-performing schools over five years. It created the federal School Improvement Grant program (SIG) to temporarily channel increased federal dollars into states and struggling schools.

In exchange for up to $2 million per year for up to three years, the federal program mandates that SIG-funded schools implement one of four reforms: turnaround, transformation, restart or closure. The report explains how these four approaches are really “old wine in new bottles” because they promote change strategies that research shows do not work and that actually recreate the conditions that cause school failure.

The report explains that the four SIG approaches are largely grounded in the firing and replacement of school staff – a process also known as churn.  Because the nation’s lowest-performing schools are also the hardest to staff, these approaches have an inherent logistical problem: finding the better-qualified personnel to refill vacant slots in turnaround schools. In New York, for example, under the new turnaround policy some districts found themselves swapping principals from one low-performing school to another. In Louisville, over 40 percent of the teachers hired to work in turnaround schools were completely new to teaching. And in another region, hiring difficulties forced many schools to begin the school year with high numbers of substitutes.

“Low-performing schools are placed in a terrible situation,” Renée explains. “In order to get the needed federal resources in the middle of this fiscal crisis, they must implement strategies that are more likely to cause upheaval than to help. When a school is in crisis, it is damaging to remove the people who are committed to helping children learn.”

Renée further explains that because of this and other problems, “the current approaches to school turnaround are almost always ineffective, weakening school systems, causing staff upheaval, crushing morale, and leaving the schools with poor student performance.”

The new report also points out what is missing. While many experts consider community engagement critical for turnarounds to succeed, federal and state policymakers have rarely involved the public in the turnaround decision-making process.

“It is extremely important to engage those most impacted by turnaround: families, community members and teachers in targeted schools, usually in racially and socio-economically segregated areas,” said Renée.  “These groups are our biggest assets in improving education.  They can help plan and implement turnaround strategies that are tailored to each school and community and they have roots in the community to ensure a reform lasts overtime.”

Recent research links community organizing with more effective teacher recruitment and retention, improved curricula, increased equity in school funding systems, and higher student performance.

“Though these kinds of initiatives are relatively new, they offer examples of the ways in which communities might play leading roles in designing, planning and implementing more equitable, democratic turnarounds under the current federal policy structure,” Trujillo explained.

Trujillo and Renée conclude with a series of recommendations for federal and state policymakers. First among the recommendations is increasing current federal and state spending for public education, particularly as it is allocated for turnaround-style reforms. “Real change requires real investment in teaching and learning,” Trujillo states. “Though closing a school and firing teachers make great headlines, the real work of educating our students is about providing all young people with engaging and supported learning environments, high-quality teachers and rich opportunities to learn and succeed.”

A companion document, released along with the policy brief, takes the brief’s recommendations and offers legislative language that would translate those recommendations into law. This legislative brief is written by Tara Kini, a senior staff attorney at Public Advocates, a California-based nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy.

The policy brief and the legislative brief were both produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (greatlakescenter.org). In addition, the Ford Foundation provided funding for the policy brief.

Both the policy brief and the legislative brief can be found on the NECP website here:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/democratic-school-turnarounds

About the Authors
Tina Trujillo is an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. She studies the politics of urban district reforms, the unintended consequences of policies and reforms for students of color and English Learners, and trends in urban educational leadership. She is a former urban public school teacher, school reform coach, and educational evaluator. She holds a Ph.D. in education from UCLA.

Michelle Renée of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University studies community organizing and works to make research relevant and available to community organizers, to support the development and implementation of equitable education policies. She is a core staff member of the new Center for Education Organizing, and is co-leader of a Ford Foundation project designed to document the implementation and results of the Foundation’s More and Better Learning Time (MBLT) initiative. She is a former legislative assistant in the United States Congress, and she holds a Ph.D. in education from UCLA.

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University is a national policy research and reform-support organization that works with urban districts and communities to improve the conditions and outcomes of schools, especially in urban communities and in those attended by traditionally underserved children. Its work focuses on three crucial issues in education reform today: school transformation, college and career readiness, and expanded learning time.

The National Education Policy Center produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/. For more information of the Ford Foundation-funded project, called the Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Learning (IDEAL), please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/ideal.

The point is, there is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is what works to produce academic achievement in a given population of children.There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. The testing straightjacket is strangling innovation and corrupting the system. Yes, there should be a way to measure results and people must be held accountable, but relying solely on tests, especially when not taking into consideration where different populations of children are when they arrive at school is lunacy.

The words of truth are always paradoxical.

Lao Tzu

Related:

Center for American Progress report: Disparity in education spending for education of children of color https://drwilda.com/2012/08/22/center-for-american-progress-report-disparity-in-education-spending-for-education-of-children-of-color/

What exactly are the education practices of top-performing nations?                                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/05/28/what-exactly-are-the-education-practices-of-top-performing-nations/

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©  http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

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Improving education: Community schools

21 Dec

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. For some communities and for some children, “community schools” might improve education achievement. The Coalition for Community Schools is a great resource for those interested in “community schools.”

A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends.

Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:

  • Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.
  • Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.
  • Families and neighborhoods are safe, supportive and engaged.
  • Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning.

To learn more about the Coalition’s vision of a community school, read the section An Enduring Vision in the Coalition’s report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. Also, watch as the U.S. Secretary of Education speak of the importance of community schools on Charlie Rose.

For more information on what it means to be a community school, read Community Schools: Partnerships for Excellence (PDF, 426k).
http://www.communityschools.org/aboutschools/what_is_a_community_school.aspx

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post has written an interesting article about “community schools.”

In Why community schools are part of the answer, Strauss writes:

Community schools, by directly dealing with many of the out-of-school issues that affect how students do in school — such as violence, family mobility, etc. — help to create the conditions that allow young people to actually concentrate on academics. Community schools seek to create conditions for learning that include:

*Fostering early childhood development through high-quality comprehensive programs.

*Providing students qualified teachers, challenging curriculum and high standards and expectations.

*Addressing the basic physical, mental and emotional health needs of families.

*Creating safe, supportive school climates through community engagement.

There is not a single model of community school initiatives but rather a number of different ones that share common principles, according to the Coalition for Community Schools. The coalition is an alliance of elementary, secondary and post-secondary organizations at the state, local and national level that are involved with education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services and more.

One of the many models of community schools, which serve millions of children around the country, is called “Schools of the 21st Century,” which provides school-based child care and family support services.

Created by Edward Ziegler, a professor at Yale University who was an architect of the Head Start program, this model is now being used in 1,300 schools across the country and turns regular public schools into year-round centers where different services are provided to families the before, during and after school hours. You can learn about other models here.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-community-schools-are-part-of-the-answer/2011/12/15/gIQAdu9T4O_blog.html

The Center for American Progress’ report, Turning Around the Nation’s Lowest Performing Schools by Karen Baroody looks at strategies for turning around low-performing schools.

For more than a decade, Education Resource Strategies, Inc., or ERS, has worked with urban districts to transform the use of people, time, money, and technology so that all students receive the support they need to succeed. Based on this work ERS believes that successful school turnaround also requires district turn-around—fundamental changes in the way that districts think about and provide support for schools. ERS has identified five steps that districts can take in designing and implementing their school improvement programs that will increase the probability that their efforts will achieve lasting improvement:

1. Understand what each school needs. Districts must develop a comprehensive, systematic, and ongoing approach to identify the needs of schools, students, and teachers. Districts must evaluate the needs of current and incoming stu- dents, examine whether the principal and the teachers in the school have the skills required to address student needs, and assess school practices.

2. Quantify what each school gets and how it is used. Districts must identify all resources currently available to each school and understand how effectively schools are using those resources to improve instructional quality and meet individual student needs, through such strategies as teacher assignment and support, student grouping, and daily scheduling.

3. Invest in the most important changes first. Districts must aggressively target those challenges that make persistently low-performing schools different from other schools and provide the additional resources and support that each school needs to overcome the challenges. Key priorities, in order of importance, are to ensure each school has a strong school leader and teachers who collectively have the skills to meet student needs; to make sure that at-risk students receive basic health, social, and emotional support; to implement school designs that organize teaching expertise, time, and attention to match student needs; and to provide each school with the necessary central office support.

4. Customize the strategy to the school. Each school faces its own unique challenges–the needs of its particular students, the quality and skills of its leader and teachers, and the resources it currently receives. Districts must be thoughtful in tailoring the intervention strategy to each school’s most pressing and critical needs.

5. Change the district, not just the schools. Strategies that focus only on changes at individual schools, without addressing the underlying systemwide structures that allowed these schools to fail in the first place, will not achieve lasting improvement. Districts must ensure these schools have the resources and support they need to succeed even after intervention efforts are over, and leverage the lessons learned from turnaround schools to implement broader reforms that support the ongoing improvement of other low-performing schools in the district.

There is no silver bullet—no single solution for how to turn a failing school around. But by taking these five steps district leaders can improve their probability for sustainable and scalable success.

There is no one approach that works in every situation, there is only what works to address the needs of a particular population of children.

The current one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

Resources:

Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools

Blank, Martin J.Melaville, AteliaShah, Bela P.

PDF ERIC Full Text 

Connecting the Dots: Progress toward the Integration of School Reform, School-Linked Services, Parent Involvement and Community Schools.

Lawson, HalBriar-Lawson, Katharine

PDF ERIC Full Text

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©