What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action

What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action

What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action

What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action


Schools can and do make a difference in students' lives. Make your school and personal instruction even more effective using the insights offered here. Drawing on 35 years of research, the author defines the factors most strongly affecting student achievement and offers specific and attainable action steps to implement successful strategies for student achievement and effective public education.


Perhaps now more than ever the quotation from Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities describes the position of public education: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Actually, given the criticisms of public education, some of those directly involved in K through 12 education might argue that the only relevant part is “it was the worst of times.” This book, however, is about possibility, specifically the possibility that K-12 education is on the brink of the best of times if we so choose. My premise is that if we follow the guidance offered from 35 years of research, we can enter an era of unprecedented effectiveness for the public practice of education—one in which the vast majority of schools can be highly effective in promoting student learning. As subsequent chapters detail, any school in the United States can operate at advanced levels of effectiveness—if it is willing to implement what is known about effective schooling. Before examining this possibility, let us consider the criticisms of U.S. education—the argument for the worst of times.

The Case for the
Worst of Times

The history of public education, particularly during the 20th century, is rife with criticisms (Tyack, 1974;Tyack & Tobin, 1994). Indeed, the century began with a massive effort to improve K-12 schooling, which was spearheaded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. One significant aspect of that reform effort was the establishment of the “Carnegie unit” as the uniform standard for defining academic achievement.

Criticisms of public education and their accompanying reform efforts flourished for the first five decades of the century. However, it is the criticisms and reform efforts of the second half of the century that most profoundly affect us today. The first of these was spawned by the launching of . . .

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