How to use research & common sense, community, time, and democracy to rebuild schools

Research-Based Expectations for Implementation of the Community Schools Initiative in New York City

Research offers strong cautions against claims of miraculous school change. Instead, changing a school’s culture and practices in sustainable ways that improve student learning takes years of commitment by all stakeholders in the school.

Attempts to dramatically turn around schools to show quick improvements in student outcomes are often counterproductive, resulting instead in school conditions associated with persistently low performance.

Many quick school turnarounds, like those initiated via the federal School Improvement Grant program, were associated with unintended, negative outcomes such as high teacher turnover, large numbers of inexperienced teachers, administrative instability, poor school and classroom climate, and socioeconomic segregation.

In contrast, reform efforts grounded in the idea of sustained improvement over time are more likely to improve student achievement along with other critical aspects of the school.

The evidence is clear: in the first three to four years, schools generally achieve only partial implementation of complex change efforts, with full implementation taking upwards of five to 10 years.

Part of the challenge in turning around schools is that outside-of-school factors likely account for twice as much of the variance in student outcomes as do inside-of-school factors.

Accordingly, the community schools approach—one of the most prominent and research-based approaches to sustained reform—addresses the academic, social-emotional, and health needs of children as well as the capacity to systemically meet these needs in communities of concentrated poverty.

To read and download the full report go here: National Education Policy Center (NEPC): Also posted by the WordPress blog Seattle Education

A comment by Ruvine Jimenez

When my 8 year-old granddaughter expressed that she no longer wanted to attend school it was a red flag that something was wrong. Our family loves to learn, loves school, loves to read, etc. I went to her school and advised I wanted to set up an observation of the classroom. Once I observed her classroom I understood why she did not want to go to school. She was not being challenged! The students that needed extra help were being served by the classroom teacher and para-educators and the students like my granddaughter were working on dittos with no teacher or para-educator interaction.

No wonder she no longer liked school. Unfortunately, for us the school that she was attending did not have another 3rd grade English option so we moved her to a different school in the same school district. She flourished like you would not believe. The classroom environment was more conducive to interaction with the teacher and her peers. She was able to attend that school for 3rd and 4th grade and it did wonders for her. My suggestion is that when our children say something that raises a question in our thoughts that we act on them.

Too many times we brush our children’s concerns away because we think that we are to far removed to make a judgment that is best for our children. There in lies the problem. Parents devalue themselves. We as parents know our students better than anyone no matter what their university/college background. In order for us to help our children we need to listen to their concerns and do some fact finding and act.

Ruvine Jimenez