Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago

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University of Chicago Press, Mar 15, 2010 - Education - 328 pages
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In 1988, the Chicago public school system decentralized, granting parents and communities significant resources and authority to reform their schools in dramatic ways. To track the effects of this bold experiment, the authors of Organizing Schools for Improvement collected a wealth of data on elementary schools in Chicago. Over a seven-year period they identified one hundred elementary schools that had substantially improved—and one hundred that had not. What did the successful schools do to accelerate student learning?

The authors of this illuminating book identify a comprehensive set of practices and conditions that were key factors for improvement, including school leadership, the professional capacity of the faculty and staff, and a student-centered learning climate. In addition, they analyze the impact of social dynamics, including crime, critically examining the inextricable link between schools and their communities. Putting their data onto a more human scale, they also chronicle the stories of two neighboring schools with very different trajectories. The lessons gleaned from this groundbreaking study will be invaluable for anyone involved with urban education.

 

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PROS
> strong systematic analysis
> truly well-variegated data sources used (that is, they chose a deliberate variety, in subclasses that made sense for the purpose(s))
> exciting depth of analysis
, probes into deep, subtle influences on success
> authors are clear clearly in touch with the cutting edge thought and methodology in education reform
> methodologically reflective analysis, addressing key potential objections
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CONS
> some statistical knowledge necessary as background (unavoidable in attempting this type of analysis)
> structuring of the (often quite dense) narrativizing portions could be improved (but an academic book like this likely does not have the budget to hire a dedicated editor/editing team, so it's to be expected, considering the relatively niche subject)
> no PDF version available, even to buy (had to gather up the PDF in small bits from different computers on an academic network, which was a pain... just let me buy it (with an sec ID watermark) guys, c'mon)
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Sum
> must read in contemporary (modern, even?) education reform analysis; robust and compelling, if somewhat hard to digest
Notes:
1. was assigned this book for a college course in urban school reform
2. The other reviewers don't seem to be willing to grapple with the complexity of these particularly complex issues.
 

Contents

A Tale of Two Schools
1
A Rare Opportunity to Learn about School Improvement
12
1 DEVELOPING APPROPRIATE OUTCOME INDICATORS
29
2 A FRAMEWORK OF ESSENTIAL SUPPORTS
42
3 TESTING THE FRAMEWORK OF THE ESSENTIAL SUPPORTS
79
ORGANIZATIONAL MECHANISMS
97
KEY ENABLERS
137
6 THE INFLUENCES OF COMMUNITY CONTEXT
158
Overview of the Fourteen Indicators for the Five Essential Supports
231
Probability Experiment to Evaluate Results Presented in Figure 33
242
Interview Questions from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods
245
Coeffi cients from Analyses of Leadership in Chapter 4
246
ValueAdded Replication Results for 1997 through 2005
250
Efforts of the Consortium on Chicago School Research to Build More Productive Ties between Research Practice and Policy to Improve Practice
252
Notes
257
References
285

Summary and Conclusions
197
Socioeconomic Status Factor
223
A ValueAdded Indicator A Schools Academic Productivity Profile
225

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About the author (2010)

Anthony S. Bryk is president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and was founding senior director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR), University of Chicago. Penny Bender Sebring is founding codirector of CCSR, the Urban Education Institute, University of Chicago. Elaine Allensworth is director for statistical analysis at CCSR. Stuart Luppescu is chief psychometrician at CCSR. John Q. Easton is Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Spencer Foundation and former executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) at the Urban Education Institute, University of Chicago.

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