Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement

Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement

Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement

Enhancing Student Achievement: A Framework for School Improvement

Synopsis

Educators devoted to school reform focus all too often on the isolated components of K-12 education--this is the essential premise of this powerful new book. If we are truly committed to improving our schools, the author contends, then we must focus on the interdependence of variables that affect student learning, both inside and outside the classroom. The book is divided into three distinct parts. In Part 1, Danielson introduces the Four Circles Model to define the criteria for successful school improvement: Everything educators do to help their students learn must be based on what educators want (school, district, or state goals), believe (values and principles), and know (educational research). In Part 2, the author provides a framework for improving schools--including curriculum, team planning, and policies and practices affecting students--and connects every concept to the criteria presented in Part 1. She also provides a handy rubric at the end of each chapter, both as a summary of main points and as a tool for educators to gauge the needs of their school. Part 3 offers readers guidelines on how best to implement the framework using action planning. Brimming with perceptive advice and thought-provoking arguments, this book is both a wake-up call and a roadmap to success for those determined to provide students with the best education possible.

Excerpt

We can, wherever and whenever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do that. Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far.

—Ron Edmonds (1969)

It has been 20 years since the publication of A Nation at Risk sounded the alarm regarding the poor quality of America's schools. Those years have been filled with much hand-wringing ([where have we gone wrong?]); confirmation (international studies of achievement that show U.S. students scoring, at best, at about the middle of the pack for industrial nations); defensiveness ([schools are not as bad as all that]); and surveys of opinion (showing parents to be much more satisfied with their children's schools than are the college professors who inherit the students or the employers who hire them). Many policy solutions have been recommended, and some have even been implemented, including content standards and assessments for students—sometimes with serious consequences for nonachievement; increased testing for teachers entering the profession, with sanctions on the colleges that prepare them; and school report cards and [league tables,] published in newspapers, that show the relative success of different schools within a district or state. Every recent U.S. president has made education a top priority, and virtually all candidates for political office have policy recommendations to address the problem, as they interpret it.

Education, in other words, is on the public radar screen as it has not been in a generation.

The renewed attention to education has coincided with a profound shift in the U.S. and global economies: a move away from (and transformation of) the extractive industries of agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing and toward a more service- and information-based economy. The jobs and lifestyles for which we are or should be preparing students require increasing amounts of [knowledge work,] for which our schools of the past were not well suited. Furthermore, given demographic and societal changes, schools of today are charged with much more than teaching [the basics] of [book learning] to students whose primary skills were acquired on the farm and in the factory, and reinforced by attitudes taught in the family and the church. Today's schools are asked to assume responsibility not only for aca-

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