Student Diversity, Choice and School Improvement

Student Diversity, Choice and School Improvement

Student Diversity, Choice and School Improvement

Student Diversity, Choice and School Improvement


Most studies of school reform offer single-variable solutions such as choice, autonomy, or standards. The present study shows how a better and more permanent reform outcome is achieved when choice, diversity, and school improvement are introduced simultaneously. The authors have attended and worked in big city and small-town schools in various parts of the country as students, teachers, administrators, planning consultants and researchers. They draw upon their experience in revealing how to achieve both excellence and equity in all schools.


This book is about student diversity and school improvement—not one or the other but both. Likewise, this book is about excellence and equity—not one or the other but both. These phrases and concepts are complementary. the components of each set should always be considered together. Accordingly, the main thrust of this book is to provide examples of Controlled Choice student assignment plans that reflect our commitment to these principles. As is discussed later, Controlled Choice uses parents’ wishes in determining public school assignments for students.

Excellence focuses on the individual—his or her aspirations, motivation, and personal performance. Personal performance, of course, requires group support. This is the significance of the recently popularized old African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child. Effective performance of each student is, in part, a function of the support offered by one’s parents and peers, of the policies promulgated by local and state educational agencies, and of practices pertaining to teaching and learning implemented by school staff. Understanding excellence requires an examination of personal adaptations.

Understanding equity, however, requires exploration of relationships between the group or aggregate and its individual members. Thus, equity has to do with collectivities—how their resources are cultivated and distributed to members and whether each member has fair access to all opportunities.

The linkage between student diversity and school improvement as well as excellence and equity are analyzed in this book. Careful attention is given to the interrelationship of activities to fulfill the goals of these concepts mandated by state and federal educational reform that promote school choice and achievement for all students, especially students of low-income families.

Florida’s 1991 School Improvement and Accountability Act, for example, set high standards for students and held schools accountable for expected results through annual performance grades for students and schools. Public Law 228.057, known as the Public School Parental Choice Law, allowed the state’s school districts, through a Controlled Choice plan, “to make…assignments [for students]

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