Effective Schools Defined
We know what it takes to create a learning community. This is the same learning community (or learning organization) that has been successfully designed in American and international business. As we documented in Making School Reform Happen ( 1993) and Keepers of the Dream ( 1994), rich and poor districts alike have been transformed by the Effective Schools Process into creative, active learning communities. Not only do these districts continue to improve, but their progress has deepened and broadened. Teachers and staff in these schools have pursued school effectiveness as a constant adventure in the enhancement of knowledge for everyone in the school.
It is not important at this juncture whether the original impetus came "down" from administration or "up" from the classroom. What matters is that the learning community is the model of equitable, quality school reform.
In the learning community, an active mission and specific goals are accomplished by dynamic, collaborative means through shared decisions made at the school site. The moral imperative that all children learn is the guiding force of the Effective Schools Process. This requires a gradual, research-guided transformation of a school's shared beliefs in order to envision a new school culture. From these beliefs grow the correlates, or structural characteristics, of the Effective Schools Process. The process is comprehensive and systemic. Its success depends on everyone who is involved in