While there is no "one-size-fits-all" blueprint for effective education reform, LCCREF believes the principles reflected in the programs described in this CD are an essential first step in helping policymakers determine whether education policy really passes the test for children, schools, and communities. The principles are summarized below, along with examples that you can learn more about in the Case Studies section
Ensuring Adequate Funding and Facilities
Adequate funding and facilities are a universal and consistently overlooked pre-requisite for academic success.
- The Education Law Center, the American Institutes for Research, and Management Analysis and Planning, Inc., have worked to draw attention to the need to provide resources to children based on their educational needs, not where they live. While designing equitable school financing measures is no easy task, even the most promising education reform policies cannot succeed unless schools have the financial capacity and appropriate facilities to get the job done.
- The Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High and the George I. Sanchez Charter High School are two examples of schools that have translated appropriate design and modern facilities into academic success. Fostering Academic Achievement and Accountability Schools cannot ensure a quality education for all students unless they are able to determine and measure what success looks like and be held accountable for academic outcomes.
When the San Jose Unified School District decided to raise academic standards, its School Board took the bold step of requiring all its graduating high school students to complete the University of California system’s academic entrance requirements.
In addition to clear measures designed to track and improve the academic success of individual students, comprehensive research is also needed to evaluate the effectiveness of small and large-scale programs.
- To encourage its most challenged schools to become a high-performing "School of Promise," the Ohio state superintendent’s office sets out academic benchmarks that exceed most state and federal guidelines.
- The San Jose Unified School District used frequent benchmark testing to generate regular data reports that allow school administrators and teachers to track how their students are performing, identify those students in need of extra academic or social supports, and re-evaluate the need for both immediate and long-term teaching adjustments.
- Teach For America has effectively used the findings of an independent evaluation to identify its strengths as well as areas for program improvement.
Expanding Social, Developmental, and Health Supports
In traditionally underserved school districts, children need more than academic supports and high quality teaching to succeed. Students and their families must also be able to access an extra layer of social, developmental and health supports to create an adequate "learning baseline" for all students.
- The George I. Sanchez School has brought the provision of on-site "wraparound" services to a new level.
- The Comer School Development Program grounds academic success in a solid understanding of child development in several key areas: physical, psychological, language, social, ethical, and cognitive.
Encouraging Strong Leadership and Community Partnerships
Successful education reform efforts must be implemented through creative leadership and the support of parents and members of the broader community. School leaders must receive the resources, training and moral support they need to help their students achieve academic success and invest all stakeholders in a common vision.
- The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and its School Leadership Program are based on the knowledge that the principals who run KIPP schools must function not only as experienced educators, but as CEOs of their own non-profit organizations.
- Through a unique approach designed to "engage teachers to engage students," the Institute for the Development of Education in Advanced Sciences (IDEAS) at Hofstra University supports science education by helping teachers to foster an everyday appreciation of science in the classroom.
- The Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) offers a range of professional development programs for district teachers, curriculum directors, and administrators.