Skip to:

Good Schools VII / Turning Around Low-Performing Schools

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2011 | 4:00pm

Meeting Overview and Purpose

Eugenia Kemble, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute

The Research on Raising Achievement In Poorly Performing Schools

Anthony Bryk, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

David K. Cohen, John Dewey Professor of Education and professor of public policy, University of Michigan; Board of Trustees, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Board of Directors, Albert Shanker Institute

Districts across the country are struggling to improve low-performing schools, many using school improvement formulas imbedded in state and federal law. What can research tell us about the relevance of family and school context to learning? What can it tell us about the “social capital” such contexts produce? What can research tell us about how effective these efforts have been and are likely to be? What do we really know about “what works” to help improve schools? What concrete steps can districts take to support schools and school staffs in the process of improvement? How are school authorities, both here and abroad, organized to support high performance, and how have they implemented a comprehensive strategy to improve student learning?

Respondents:
Jason Snyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of School Turnaround, U.S. Department of Education

Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation

Keynote and Dinner

Randi Weingarten, President, Albert Shanker Institute and American Federation of Teachers

This is an opportunity to hear the perspective of American Federation of Teacher’s President, Randi Weingarten, on what it takes to improve our most challenging schools. It is also a chance for relaxed, cross-district and team discussions. Teams from each district are strongly encouraged to use some of this time to identify their reform priorities in regard to improving low-performing schools and to discuss the kinds of information that they might want to obtain (both from experts and from peers) in order to move forward.

Improving Content, Teaching, and the Supports for Both

William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

Matt Gandal, Director for Technical Assistance and Support, Implementation and Support Unit, U.S. Department of Education

This session will delve more deeply into what must be done to improve teaching and learning in low-performing schools. At the most basic level, we know that inequalities in what gets taught are a major factor in inequitable outcomes. What are the programs and practices that have worked to strengthen the curriculum? What professional development has helped to improve instructional practice around curriculum? What are the lessons that have been learned and what can be done to apply these lessons to other districts and other subject areas?

Respondent:
Cliff Janey, Former Superintendent, Rochester, NY, Washington, DC, and Newark, NJ

Setting the Stage for Success

Ronald Ferguson, Senior Lecturer in Education and Public Policy, Harvard University; Director, The Achievement Gap Project

Karin Chenoweth, Author, How It's Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools

Research from a number of fields demonstrates that the larger context of implementation matters almost as much as issues of content and practice. We know that the composition of the student body, parental involvement, extended learning time, small classes, tutoring, and programs to stop summer learning loss can all help boost achievement. So can efforts to improve the community’s involvement with the school and the school’s climate (which, by some estimates, can account for much as 25 percent of teacher effects on student learning). How can research on school culture and out-of-school factors be brought to bear on efforts to improve teaching and learning?

Respondent:
Mary Cathryn Ricker, President, St. Paul Federation of Teachers

Promising Programs And Practices

Robert Slavin, Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University; Chairman, Success for All Foundation

This session will focus on the nuts and bolts of school improvement, including an overview of the research on the adoption of replicable programs (such as Success for All, Reading Recovery, Reading Mastery, Core Knowledge, America’s Choice, Career Academies, etc.) and specific reform strategies. We will also look at a few selected examples school turnaround attempts—both successful and unsuccessful—drawn from participating districts. These cases will be discussed, both in light of what can be learned from the examples they offer, and from the research discussed in the various sessions of the seminar.

Respondents:
Gary Smuts, Superintendent, ABC Unified School District

Mary Armstrong, President, AFT St. Louis