Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Reformation of the Whole School

Image result for reformation
Just kidding: Reformation (get it)
Whole-school reform does and has proved to be effective in student achievement and school outcomes. When systematic change involving all stake holders aligned in a central mission to impact the success of a school, the affect can be dramatic and substantial.

Baltimore City schools sought to affect change by promoting and implementing a school improvement grant to promote literacy and close the learning gap in elementary education. The Success for All program (1993), “uses research-based preschool and kindergarten programs, beginning and intermediate reading programs in Grades 1-3, one-to-one tutoring for low-achieving students, family support programs, and other elements” documented significant reading gains in African-American students across the board (Madden, Slavin, Karweit, Dolan, & Wasik, p. 124).

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I case you needed a visual of stakeholders
As stated earlier and as pointed out in the Success for all program, system wide programming to support all stakeholders involving all stakeholders is crucial for whole-school reform. In Snyder et al. (2010), researchers found a comprehensive school-based program, including all stakeholders “can positively influence school-level achievement, attendance, and disciplinary outcomes concurrently” (p. 26).  The PA program required the school to reach out to families, the community, and every resource within the school to include faculty, staff, students, counselors, and administration to “buy in” and promote the program. In the end, the success of the implementation was found in the results that further contributed to the body of research that system wide whole-school reform can and does have a positive impact on a school’s outcome and student achievement.

In short, when strategically planned and transparently implemented, whole-school reform is successful in effecting change in a school at all levels.


Madden, N. A., Slavin, R. E., Karweit, N. L., Dolan, L. J., & Wasik, B. (1993). Success for All: Longitudinal effects of a restructuring program for inner-city elementary schools. American Educational Research Journal , 30 (1).

Snyder, F., Flay, B., Vuchinich, S., Acock, A., Washburn, I., Beets, M., et al. (2010). Impact of a social-emotional and character development program on school-level indicators of academic achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial . Journal of Resarch on Educational Effectiveness , 3, 26-55.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Abstention and Kool-Aid Drinking: CCSS Adoption

Image result for common core state standardsAccording to (McGraw Hill, 2014), 45 states, 4 territories, and Washington D.C. adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). 89,890 public school districts with 2,972,000 public school teachers implemented and taught lessons anchored to the CCSS, and 45,750,000 students took one or more end of course tests based on the CCSS. With all of this participation from states and teachers, some states have abstained from drinking the Kool-Aid for various reasons.

While Virginia, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Alaska never adopted the CCSS, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Indiana adopted then chose to repeal the CCSS. Other states that were early adopters have since reviewed, revised the adapted or even repealed the CCSS  (Bidwell, Common Core Support in Free Fall, 2014).

Focusing on the states that decided against the full adoption of the CCSS, their reasons were and are based on local, state, and federal politics. At the time Gov. Rick Perry of Texas explains, “Texas is on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education” (Bidwell, The Politics of the Common Core, 2014). His sentiment and fear is shared equally by other states that refuse to relinquish state and local control to federally backed standards.

Image result for mike penceIndiana Governor Mike Pence intimated similar concerns as the state was considering a repeal of the CCSS, "Hoosiers have high expectations when it comes to Indiana schools," Pence said. "That's why Indiana decided to take a time-out on national education standards. When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana's will be uncommonly high. They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers, and will be among the best in the nation" (Bidwell, The Politics of the Common Core, 2014).

While state pride seems to be a central reason and controlling the content another, the CCSS is a thoughtful idea that was ruefully implemented as its adoption was tied to federal Race to the Top considerations. States that are choosing to forge their paths is fine. Having worked in Virginia and actually worked with a committee to develop state standards of learning, the process was one of community and consensus that took several years to implement and refine. The money and time invested could not be washed away with simple adoption of the CCSS.

Bidwell, A. (2014, Aug 20). Common Core Support in Free Fall. U.S. News and Report.
Bidwell, A. (2014, Mar 6). The Politics of the Common Core. U.S. News and Report
McGraw Hill. (2014). What everyone needs to know about Common Core State Standards. Retrieved September 17, 2015, from

Stephens, C. (2013). Unlike Alabama, these five states didn't adopt the Common Core. Retrieved 17 September 2015, from