Testing the Proposition:
Cases in Point
Let's examine a number of cases of schools, districts, and programs that generated effects on student achievement. In each school and district, educators reached into the research base on curriculum, instruction, and social climate to select and develop the content of staff development. We selected these cases to try to bring alive the process of building the communities, selecting the objectives, identifying the content for the focus of initiatives, and generating initiative-related staff development with its embedded study of student learning. The cases are varied: Some center around specific aspects of curriculum, some generate safety net programs for students at serious risk, and some redesign curriculums. Several are nested within broad staff development/school renewal efforts. They are not, by any means, the only successful programs, but they provide insight into the staff development elements that were critical to their success. Four characteristics are obvious from the outset:
Good faith efforts to establish goals and then to collectively and regu-
larly monitor and adjust actions toward them produce results.
|•||Content. These programs all brought educators together to study content in curriculum and instruction. We believe that only content dealing with curriculum and instruction or the overall social climate of the schools is likely to considerably improve student learning. And the content has to be substantial. Minor variations on curriculum, instruction, or social climate are worthwhile, but cannot be expected to result in sizable changes in student learning. (See Chapter 3 for a survey of curricular and instructional approaches that have substantial effect sizes.)|