New Report: Building a Districtwide Movement for Small Schools Reform

Posted by on April 20, 2009

Community organizing on education breeds comprehensive change in Oakland

A six-year study by the Annenberg Institute documents how low-income communities of color have organized to improve their local schools. In the first of seven case studies, Annenberg’s research team describes the success of Oakland (Calif.) Community Organizations (OCO) in building a district-wide movement that’s created 48 small schools dedicated to student achievement. “Building a Districtwide Movement for Small Schools Reform” analyzes documents, surveys, interviews, and student performance measures. As a result of OCO’s organizing efforts, it found, both teachers and principals in Oakland conclude that small schools give students more individualized academic supports. Both teachers and parents say school climate — school safety in particular — has improved, and say parent-teacher relationships, and (for teachers) shared faculty decision-making have been positively affected. In the view of the Annenberg’s researchers, OCO’s organizing gives important lessons on community- and educator-generated reform, and illustrates the challenges and opportunities associated with these reforms.

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