New Book: Inside Urban Charter Schools

Posted by on March 2, 2009

Looking at what works in urban charter schools

A new book “Inside Urban Charter Schools” by researchers at the Harvard School of Education looks at five consistently high-performing charter schools in urban areas in Massachusetts to determine what common practices and approaches to educating children could be readily replicated in all schools, whether in traditional public, charter, private, or parochial schools. The authors liken the workings of the schools to the gear systems of fine Swiss watches, calling them “strikingly coordinated and coherent.” “Within these schools, every person, program, system, structure, and decision has a special role and works in concert toward the fulfillment of clear, widely embraced goals related to academic achievement,” according to the introduction. The authors spent 18 months from January 2007 to June 2008 conducting over 90 interviews with school personnel, observing in nearly 140 classrooms for more than 50 days, speaking with parents in focus groups, and examining documents and state reports. They say that they “wish to largely sidestep ideological positions and exchanges. Therefore, rather than defending or condemning charter schools or charter school policy, the book offers rich qualitative findings that often are lacking in ideological conversations about charter schools. The results of this research offer those interested in school reform a nuanced and careful analysis of the factors that likely contribute to the outstanding academic performance of these five schools.” Read the introduction and a sample chapter at the link below.

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