There’s a new book out that’s getting a fair amount of attention. It’s called Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons From Chicago, and was published this month by the University of Chicago Press.
Education Week just ran an article on it, but it’s only accessible to subscribers. One of the authors has written a blog post, though, that provides a good summary of the book. You can also access an excerpt at Google Books.
The author’s conclusions sound good to me, but, I have to say, the first thing that came to my mind when I read about them was, “Doesn’t everybody who works in schools know this already?”
They describe the importance of five “essential supports”:
The key ingredients, which we call the “essential supports,” are school leadership, parent and community ties, professional capacity of the faculty, school learning climate, and instructional guidance. Schools that measured strong in all five supports were at least 10 times more likely than schools with just one or two strengths to achieve substantial gains in reading and math
Of course, knowing something and having the political will and support to get it implemented are always two different things.
I was struck, though, by what the authors wrote about parent-community ties, and have written more about that in my other blog, Engaging Parents In School.
The Strategic Learning Institute, which working with 10 schools in Chicago on school turnaround strategies, aligned their program with the Chicago Consortium’s 5 areas. According to the American Institutes for Research, SLI’s initiative has been successful–Two SLI schools are the most improved elementary schools in the city. They managed the turnarounds without firing teachers or even the principals….