Ensure, through technical assistance, professional development, and other means, that teachers use opportunities for common planning and collaboration effectively to improve instruction and student academic achievement.
This report presents the data on the current student dropout problem, listing several factors that can be used as indicators that students are headed out the door. The indicators are both academic (failing grades in math and English) and social (isolated from other students/faculty). Twenty-six programs are described that deal with one or more of the academic and social indicators. In addition to the narrative descriptions the report includes a chart identifying characteristics across programs. There is also a chart that provides notes related to all the academic and social indicators defined.
Kennelly, L., & Monrad, M. (2007). Approaches to dropout prevention: Heeding early warning signs with appropriate interventions.
The report describes how four large urban schools with high minority populations closed the achievement gap in reading and mathematics. Common findings were consistently high expectations with increased instructional time (double dosing in math, for example); ongoing formal and informal assessment; use of data for planning instruction; teacher collaboration to carefully align curriculum, standards, and assessments; more engaging pedagogy to motivate students and increase learning; and supportive leaders at both state and local levels.
Billig, S.H., Jaime, I.I., Abrams, A., Fitzpatrick, M., & Kendrick, E. (2005). Closing the achievement gap: Lessons from successful schools.
Not all professional conversations promote instructional improvement. The depth of collaboration varies greatly. The design of coaching initiatives and structures for teacher collaboration influences the quality of professional conversations. School and district leaders can influence who is sought out for advice, and the kinds of professional interactions that take place with coaches or peers.
Coburn, C., & Russell, J. (2008). Getting the most out of professional learning communities and coaching: Promoting interactions that support instructional improvement. Learning Policy Brief, 1(3), 1–5.
This paper speaks to how large secondary schools and their districts can meet challenges by using more sensible, accountable and personalized organizational structures (SLCs) as a platform for infusing meaningful learning activities into the daily professional life of every instructional staff member.
Connell, J.P., Klem, A.M., Broom, J.M., & Kenny, M. (with McLaughlin, M.). (2006). Going small and getting smarter: Small learning communities as platforms for effective professional development.
This newsletter article poses five questions that affect the success of teacher collaboration. The questions highlight supportive conditions, alignment with school and district priorities, focus on student learning, data use, and dissemination of learning. A bibliography with additional resources is included.
Learning Point Associates, Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. (2007). Maximizing the impact of teacher collaboration [Newsletter].
This guide defines job-embedded professional development—teacher learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice and is designed to enhance teachers’ content-specific instructional practices with the intent of improving student achievement. It points to hallmarks of the model, including cooperative, inquiry-based work with a team. The guide provides examples of how schools have achieved this classroom-based work, and suggestions for implementation.
Croft, A., Coggshall, J.G., Dolan, M., & Powers, E. (with Killion, J.). (2010). Job embedded professional development: What it is, who is responsible, and how to get it done well [Issue brief].
This report focuses on the unique elements of high schools that have successfully pursued high academic standards while still closing the achievement gap. It analyzes defining features—such as curricular goals, staff selection, instructional practices, and data use—that characterize higher performing districts, schools, and classrooms. Practices of high-performing schools include: 1) teachers implemented standards through curriculum maps, pacing guides, and aligned instructional materials; 2) teachers collaboratively inquire into their practice using data; 3) students at all levels have access to the most experienced teachers; 4) educators use achievement data to determine the most effective use of resources; and 5) educators recognize specific student achievements. This report has been developed specifically with state-level leaders in mind, providing them with suggestions on how they may support initiatives that are linked with accelerated learning. A case study methodology is used.
Dolejs, C. (2006). Report on key practices and policies of consistently higher performing high schools.
This website investigates the practice of an SLC-based teacher team as it closely monitors students’ progress. The team identifies a gap in student skills, investigates the reasons for the gap, implements strategies to address it, and collects data to find out if the intervention is working. The site includes interviews with key staff, school-generated documents, and links to related resources.
U.S. Department of Education, Smaller Learning Communities Program. (2009). Teacher team inquiry: Sustaining instructional improvement at New Dorp.
When collaboration is embedded in teachers’ work and supported by leadership, meaningful professional learning and improved teaching follow. School redesign demands that practitioners make fundamental shifts in their beliefs about reaching all students. This article looks at school leaders who have been successful in shifting professional support toward effective teaching through embedded learning opportunities for teachers that promote focused collaboration around student achievement.
Kassissieh, J., & Barton, R. (2009). The top priority: Teacher learning. Principal Leadership, 9(7), 22–26.
This What Works Clearinghouse practice guide summarizes the research on how teachers, schools and districts use student data. The recommendations in the guide include: make data part of an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement; teach students to examine their own data and set learning goals; establish a clear vision for schoolwide data use; provide supports that foster a data-driven culture within the school; and develop and maintain a districtwide data system.
Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S.S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J.A., & Wayman, J.C. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making (IES Practice Guide, NCEE 2009-4067).
This report looks at Chicago Public School students’ performance in their coursework during their freshman year, how it related to eventual graduation, and how personal and school factors contribute to success or failure in freshman-year courses. It shows that data on course performance can be used to identify future dropouts and graduates with precision, allowing for targeting students at risk of dropping out. Several indicators of freshman course performance are examined, including students’ failures, absences, and overall grades.
Allensworth, E.M., & Easton, J.Q. (2007). What matters for staying on-track and graduating in Chicago Public High Schools: A closer look at course grades, failures, and attendance in the freshman year [Research rep.].