New Article: University management of public schools

Posted by on December 5, 2003

[posted from Public Education Network]


Over the past several years, the standards based reform movement has produced increasingly dramatic shifts in the relationship between educational policies and school-based practices. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has further intensified public scrutiny and local accountability for demonstrating that all children meet national standards in their learning. However, to achieve desired improvements in student learning, it is clear that many schools must fundamentally rethink the ways in which they organize instructional practices. Also, there needs to be systematic attention to creating accountability for learning outcomes, and providing the supports to achieve them. To address the seemingly intractable problem of improving student outcomes in its lowest performing schools, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission asked the University of Pennsylvania to be one of seven outside organizations (collectively referred to as educational management organizations or ‘EMOs’) that would manage a total of 45 elementary and middle schools with the weakest performance on the Pennsylvania System of Student Assessment. In working with the Partnership Schools, Nancy Streim, Jeanne Vissa and colleagues, engaged the question: how does a research university put its knowledge and experience to the task of creating high functioning learning communities that are characterized by shared accountability for student learning and that result in strong student outcomes? In this article, they describe their framework and approaches for bringing about the desired school improvements in the three partnership schools, reflect on experiences in the first year of partnership, and examine the perspective of “shared accountability.”

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