New Report: School Improvement by Design

Posted by on December 21, 2009

In search of the ‘black box’ of ed reform

A “massive” new study from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), undertaken over 13 years, aimed to determine why some school improvement programs have worked and some haven’t, Education Week reports. The research involved 115 elementary schools, 300 teachers, 800 school leaders, 7,500 students, and three brand-name models of comprehensive school reform, tracking what teachers did on a daily basis, determining how those practices differed from those in a set of more typical schools, and figuring out if the changes had impact on academic achievement. The capstone study looked at three programs that gave the teachers varying degrees of autonomy in devising and carrying out a curriculum. The researchers found that over time, teachers in schools using the model with the greatest freedom were most likely to feel a sense of autonomy and trust in their schools, but their teaching practices were not significantly different from those used in the control group. In comparison, schools using the other two programs, where teachers had more direction but also more collaboration and coaching, developed their own distinctive looks over time. The different instructional patterns, in turn, led to different and more successful student-achievement patterns.

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