Best Practice Studies and Institutes: Findings from 20 States

Tal Kerem

National Center for Education Accountability
July 2006

 

The National Center for Educational Accountability has relentlessly asked why some schools help more students reach higher standards than other schools. And it has persistently tried to answer that key query. In this new series of reports--which investigates over 200 schools in 20 states, and then compares the results nationally--research teams examined performance data from top- and average-performing schools, then examined the education practices at work in both kinds via extensive interviews and observation. The results show that high-achieving schools share certain facets not present in their lower-performing institutional peers. For example, they boast rigorous course content across a broad range of subjects and demand excellence from students of varying academic abilities. Average schools are more likely to allow lower-performing youngsters a lot of leeway. Analysts also observed that high performing schools don't separate students based on ability but educate all students in classes containing a spectrum of academic performers. This means, in practice, that less savvy students are not segregated and then ignored (a common practice in lower-performing schools). Top schools also make their decisions about curricula and instruction based on student performance data, not emotions. And their teachers and administrators are more likely to collaborate, and to share experiences about what works for students and what doesn't. Many of these findings aren't new (see here) but it's no bad thing to repeat and reinforce them. The state reports are available here.

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