Is There an Opportunity Gap in Your District?
School board members do not fully recognize the power they wield to give kids in poverty a better change to achieve. The source of their strength is a purposeful change in policy and practice that embraces an intentional mission to erase the opportunity gap. Pursuing the high road has clear benefits.
Guaranteeing Your Curriculum
Does curriculum reform really improve student performance? In St. Tammany School District (La.), a multiyear effort has paid off. By offering good models, the big ideas, and suggested activities leading to transfer, the district has set high expectations and a clear direction without forcing a narrow and unprofessional compliance.
Closing the Gender Literacy Gap
Three years into what has become a sustained and comprehensive initiative to address gender disparity in standardized test scores, we are making headway. We have changed the school culture so teachers are more flexible about children’s “wiggles,” the books students read, and the content of their writing. Fathers participate more.
Making School Reform Work
School renewal is a building-by-building proposition. Any school staff can be its own turnaround specialist, and any school board can help with its school improvement plan. It is a matter of dedicating the entire school staff to the needs of the students who walk in every morning.
Small District Transformation
A Dairy Queen. A restaurant. A convenience store with gas pumps. That’s about it for downtown Skidmore, Texas, home of the Skidmore-Tynan Independent School District. But in its most recent assessment, the Texas Education Agency rated the high school “exemplary,” and that kind of success extends throughout the district.
Mapping Suburban School Reform
Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools long had a reputation as a top-tier system, but district leaders knew they had problems ahead. Demographic shifts showed the district’s population was rapidly changing. By 1999, the minority and low-income population comprised nearly half of the student body, resulting in a growing achievement gap.
Meeting the Urban School Challenge
How did Cincinnati raise the achievement of its poorest, most disadvantaged children – and do it for two years? Several elements contributed: a reform-minded superintendent, a steadfast school board, principals and teachers who believed the reform effort was real, a central office “shepherd” – and some federal stimulus dollars helped as well.
The Work of School Boards
School reform is possible. Low-performing schools can turn around. Student academic performance can improve, no matter what obstacles exist to learning. And local school leaders can make all of this happen. The decisions of local school leaders are ultimately what push forward student reform and raise student academic achievement.
Learning vs. Entertainment
Is style overwhelming substance? You can’t blame schools for wanting to capitalize on the same strategies and tools that keep students online and engaged for hours on end. But what can you really teach a child about the French Revolution in a three-minute video?