Common Principles for Uncommon Schools

Horace Data Collection & Analysis

A Selected Research Bibliography

Bruer, John T., Schools for Thought: A Science of Learning in the Classroom. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993. Bryk, Anthony S. and Driscoll, M. E., The High School as Community: Contextual Influences, and Consequences for Students and Teachers. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, National Center on Effective Secondary Schools, 1988. Bryk, A. S. et al., A View from the Elementary Schools:

Advisory Program Research and Evaluation

This article reviews the research literature to bolster the case for advisory and demonstrate that putting it at the core of a school is worth the investment. Lessons from CES schools also reveal the importance of a cycle of collaborative inquiry when planning and implementing advisory. At its heart, advisory forges connections among students and the school community, creating conditions

Beyond Looking: Using Data to Coach for Instructional Improvement

For several years, Judy (a special education teacher who works with students in math and science goals) sat through staff meetings at which the PowerPoint slides containing the results of our statewide assessment data confirmed what she already knew about her students: they were not meeting state standards in math. Since all of the students in Judy’s class were on

Common Measures: Collecting the Basic Data

To document their progress, many schools routinely collect statistics on the following “common measures” (compiled by Harvard University doctoral candidate Molly Schen). When Essential schools join in doing so, they make possible useful comparisons to larger databases.  Who are we? – Number of students – Percentage of students of different races and ethnicities – Percentage of students eligible for free

Common Measures: What Students Feel About Essential Schools

These responses were requested from students in nine Essential Schools–both students who participated in Essential School activities (called “ES students” here) and those who did not. Surveys were given to an equal number of ES and non-ES students in each school, but responses came in from 427 ES students and 185 non-ES students. (The statistics that result have been adjusted

Common Measures: What Teachers Feel About Essential Schools

These responses were gathered from 1,762 teachers in 46 Essential schools, by Kyle Peck, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University. The survey was commissioned by the Coalition as a pilot study only–intended not to be conclusive but to explore what questions might be usefully asked in a continuing survey to be launched by the Coalition’s Taking Stock effort

Cycles of Inquiry and Action for Equity: CES’s Ongoing Commitment

The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) is entering its 25th year as an organization and a network of schools dedicated transforming the experience of schools and education for young people, their teachers, and their communities nationwide. The practice of educators to engage in cycles of inquiry and actions that address challenges and improve outcomes evolved directly from the “conversation among

Documenting Whole-School Change in Essential Schools

What actually changes in Essential schools? Reporting and reflecting on the answers can supply long-term data to guide new decisions. But to be helpful, such information must reveal the interrelated aspects of change, and provide many lenses through which to look for evidence of success. If they just asked the right questions, students in the Research and Development class at

Essential Schools’ Performance: Some Preliminary Figures

(Note: Schools in different states and communities collect data in different ways, and students are selected for Essential School programs in different ways. Cross-district comparisons are invalid; bear in mind that these data may legitimately be compared only for past performances or to general districtwide data collected in the same manner. What follows is a sampling of records submitted by

From Vision to Action: Solving Problems through Inquiry at Boston Day and Evening Academy

On a mid-week day in mid-December 2008, Boston Day and Evening Academy’s room 209, usually used for board meetings, student assessments, awards dinners, and other occasions requiring an intimate atmosphere, smelled like Chinese food. Thirty-eight students gathered around large conference tables, chatting with teachers and each other and eating lunch. Some drifted between tables, catching up and laughing. These second-trimester

Go to the Source: More about the Schools and Organizations Featured in this Issue

Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools 1720 Broadway, Fourth Floor Oakland, California 94612 telephone: 510-208-0160 Boston Day and Evening Academy 20 Kearsarge Avenue Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119 telephone: 617-635-6789 Clover Park High School 11023 Gravelly Lake Drive SW Lakewood, Washington 98499 telephone: 253-583-5500 EdVisions Schools 501 Main Street PO Box 601 Henderson, Minnesota 56044 telephone: 507-248-3738 Minnesota

In California, Portfolios of Whole-School Progress

California asks all schools involved in its School Restructuring Initiative to continually document their progress toward four key goals: developing habits of inquiry through examining student work; impacting the whole school in that process; addressing the learning needs of every student; and engaging the district in their effort. Schools do this all year long (for several years), compiling a School

Key to Teacher Inquiry: Framing the Question, Planning the Research

Teacher inquiry groups that take a hypothesis-testing approach to action research often have difficulty framing a good research question. John Newlin, who coaches the IITIC groups connected with Maine’s regional CES Center, the Southern Maine Partnership, worked with Kate Graham and Kathy Simon in CES’s national office to come up with this framework to organize such work: What would you

Measuring the Strength of a Professional Community

Recent highly regarded studies from the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research have pointed to how strongly the presence of “professional community” affects authentic student achievement. In a professional community, researchers posited, teachers pursue a clear shared purpose for all students’ learning, engage in collaborative work to achieve that purpose, and take collective responsibility for student learning. Coalition researcher Peggy MacMullen

More Information and Readings on Documenting School Change

From the Coalition of Essential Schools (510-433-1451) David Allen, “The Tuning Protocol: A Process for Reflection.” David Allen and Joseph McDonald, “Keeping Student Performance Central: The New York Assessment Collection.” Kathleen Cushman, “What Research Suggests about Essential School Ideas.” Horace Vol. 11, No. 3, March 1995. Peggy MacMullen, “Taking Stock: The Impact of Reform.” David Niguidula, “The Digital Portfolio: A

Notes on This Issue

Happy birthday, CES! We turn 25 in 2009, and it’s a year of celebration and looking forward for the CES network. Horace will continue to feature the writing and first-hand experiences of Essential school educators. Yes, this means you! See page 25 for a list of upcoming issue themes, and be in touch soon with your ideas for contributions. Summer

Qualitative Questions to Help Assess Essential Schools

These questions were used by a 1988 Committee on Evaluation chaired by Gerald Grant of Syracuse University, charged in 1988 with assessing the progress of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Because they are qualitative rather than quantitative research questions, they can provoke useful thought as schools and outsiders look at Essential School changes in individual situations. What would you say

Readings & Resources

Allen, David, ed. Assessing Student Learning. New York: Teachers College Press, 1998. Cochran-Smith, Marilyn and Susan L. Lytle. Inside/Outside: Teacher Research and Knowledge. New York: Teachers College Press, 1992. Duckworth, Eleanor, “Teaching As Research” chapter in The Having of Wonderful Ideas. New York: Teachers College Press, 1987. Evans, Claryce, “Support for Teachers Studying Their Own Work.” Educational Leadership, March 1991.

Some Key Findings that Support Essential School Ideas

How personal the secondary school environment is matters more than any other single factor in encouraging students’ engagement and their willingness to work hard on academic goals. When teachers connect with and understand their students’ families, cultures, and life outside school, students achieve at higher levels. (McLaughlin 1993) At all achievement levels students prefer an active classroom role, and this

Some Ways to Document Change in Schools

– Data describing common and uncommon measures – Surveys of teachers, students, administrators, and community – Classroom observations using commonly held rubrics for authentic teaching and learning – Public exhibitions of student work – Compilations of student work to illustrate different performance levels – School portfolios – School quality review teams – “Tuning protocols” examining student work – Curriculum materials

Student Achievement in Restructured Schools

[MISSING IMAGE] This figure represents the percent gain in student engagement and achievement for schools with different types of practces (compared to schools with traditional reform practices) in Lee and Smith’s 1994 longitudinal study, “High School Restructuring and Student Achievement.” It compares performance gains of students from eighth grade to tenth grade in traditionally restructured schools with student gains in

Taking Stock: How Are Essential Schools Doing?

Do students in Essential Schools perform better? As results start to come in, the chief problem is how to answer this in thoughtful and precise ways – without losing the Coalition’s focus on intellectual depth as defined by each local school community. A wry joke is making the rounds of the education world, which we heard from Judy Lanier, who

The Cycle of Inquiry and Action: Essential Learning Communities

In a true learning community, inquiry becomes everybody’s work. Teaching, learning, community involvement, leadership, organizational management and change, professional growth–all take place in a continual dynamic of asking good questions and finding evidence that can guide a school’s actions. The kids who skip school, the kids who cut class, and the kids kicked out of class all end up, at

The Dangerous Necessity of Assessment: A Teacher’s Dilemma

During my first year of teaching, Lily was a confident and verbal first grader in my first and second grade class. She wrote a story about a dragon the first week of school and easily sounded out every word. She held her own with the older children in the class. The trouble began when I administered the first “spelling” assessment

The EdVisions “Dreamscape” Evaluation Plan

This article describes the “dreamscape” as EdVisions Schools moves forward as an education development organization. “Dreamscape” refers to the goals we have developed for the network of more than 40 Edvisions schools nationwide. Here, we describe the evolution of objectives for EdVisions school sites, the development of assessment tools to measure schools’ status and progress, and EdVisions Schools is an