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TheAchievementGapInitiative atHarvardUniversity

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY

WAYSTHATLEADERSHIPRAISES ACHIEVEMENTANDNARROWSGAPS BYIMPROVINGINSTRUCTION IN15PUBLICHIGHSCHOOLS

2009CONFERENCEREPORT
T OWARD EX CE LLENC E WITH E QUI TY

HOWHIGHSCHOOLS BECOMEEXEMPLARY

WAYSTHATLEADERSHIPRAISES ACHIEVEMENTANDNARROWSGAPS BYIMPROVINGINSTRUCTION IN15PUBLICHIGHSCHOOLS


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TheAchievementGapInitiative(AGI)atHarvardUniversityisaUniversitywide endeavorbasedattheHarvardGraduateSchoolofEducationandtheMalcolm WienerCenterforSocialPolicyattheHarvardKennedySchool.Itspurposeisto focus academic research, public education, and innovative outreach activities onacriticallyimportantnationalchallenge. The AGI is creating important new mechanisms for bridging between universitiesandschools,enablinggreatercommunicationandcooperationnot only among concerned researchers, but also between researchers and education practitioners who grapple with challenges every day in their classrooms.TheAGIalsoseekstoengageorganizationsthatworkdirectlywith childrenandfamiliesoutsideschoolhours. TheAGIincludesroughlytwodozenresearchersfromHarvardandanetworkof colleagues from other institutions, who aim together to accelerate the accumulation of usable knowledge and to bring that knowledge to bear on raisingachievementamongchildrenofallracialandethnicbackgrounds,witha specialemphasisonreducingracialandethnicdisparitiesintheUnitedStates. MorethanonehundredpresentationsbyAGIresearchersandcolleaguesatAGI eventssince2005areavailableonlineintheAGIvideolibraryforpublicviewing athttp://www.agi.harvard.edu. Laboringinamultitudeofroles,sharingourenergiesandinsights,togetherwe have an opportunity, indeed, a responsibility, to make a difference to many future generations of Americans. Our nations future can brighten even as its complexion darkens, but only if we accept this urgent responsibility to raise achievementlevelsamongallchildrenwhilealsonarrowinggaps. Welookforwardtosharingthisresponsibilitywithyou. 2009AGIConferenceReport i|P a g e

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A CKNOWLEDGMENTS
Primary support for the 2009 AGI Conference and associated activities came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional support came from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social PolicyattheHarvardKennedySchool,andtheOfficeoftheProvostatHarvard University. Thefindings,conclusions,recommendations,andotherviewsexpressedinthis report are those of the authors and conference presenters, and do not necessarilyreflecttheviewsoropinionsofanyofthefunders. The report was distilled from conference transcripts by a team consisting of Ronald F. Ferguson, Sandra Hackman, Robert Hanna, and Ann Ballantine. EditorialsupportwasprovidedbyKarenHungandCharlotteKrontiris.Notethat all presentations were videorecorded and may be viewed online at http://www.agi.harvard.edu. Achievement Gap Initiative faculty cochairs Ronald Ferguson, Richard Murnane, and Charles Ogletree thank all of the conference presenters, discussants, and participants who took time to share their research and experience.
Recommendedreference:RonaldF.Ferguson,SandraHackman,RobertHanna,andAnn Ballantine,June2010.HowHighSchoolsBecomeExemplary:WaysthatLeadership RaisesAchievementandNarrowsGapsbyImprovingInstructionin15PublicHigh Schools.Reportonthe2009AnnualConferenceoftheAchievementGapInitiativeat HarvardUniversity.Availablefordownloadathttp://www.agi.harvard.edu. Permissionisherebygrantedtoduplicateanypartofthisreportwithproperattribution. Hardcopiesmaybeordered(whilesupplieslast)bysendinganemailto AGI@Harvard.edu,orbycallingtheAchievementGapInitiativeat(617)4969154. CoverphotographprovidedbyBrocktonHighSchool.PhotoeditingbySheppard Ferguson.

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A BSTRACT
This report features 15 outstanding public high schools from Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Texas and Washington, DC. All were featured at the Fifth Annual Conference of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard UniversityinJuneof2009.TheMassachusettsschoolshadunusuallyhighvalue added test score gains on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) from 8th to 10th grade. In addition, they had recently narrowedtestscoregapsbetweeneachoftheirracial/ethnicgroupsandwhite students in the rest of the state. Schools from the other states were highly recommended by experts. They too came with evidence of impressive achievement. At the conference, teams from each of the schools made brief presentations and then faced extensive questioning from experts about the methodsbywhichtheyachievedsuchoutstandingprogress. The main lesson from the presentations was that student achievement rose whenleadershipteamsfocusedthoughtfullyandrelentlesslyonimprovingthe quality of instruction. Core groups of leaders took public responsibility for leading the charge to raise achievement. Stakeholders crafted mission statementsthatlaterhelpedkeepthemontrack;plannedcarefully,sometimes withoutsideassistance,forhowtheywouldorganizelearningexperiencesfor teachers; clearly defined criteria for high quality teaching and student work; and implemented in ways that engaged their whole faculties. As they implementedtheirplans,theseschoolscarefullymonitoredbothstudentand teacherworkinordertocontinuouslyrefinetheirapproaches. Leadership teams succeeded initially because they used their positional authority effectively to jumpstart the change process. Then they built trust. Morespecifically,theydemonstratedcommitmentthroughhardworkandlong hours; they studied researchbased literature to expand their knowledge and competence; they persevered to follow through on the promises they made; andtheyfoundwaystoremainrespectfulofpeers,evenwhenaskingthemto improve their performance. In these ways, leadership teams earned the respect of their colleagues and the authority to push people outside their comfort zones. With cultivated competence and earned authority, they were abletohelptheircolleaguesovercomethetypesoffearandresistancethatso often prevent effective reforms in American high schools. All these schools remain works in progress, but they are not typical. Their stories convey critically important principles, processes, and practices that can help high schoolsacrossthenationraiseachievementandclosegaps. 2009AGIConferenceReport v|P a g e

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C ONTENTS
1. Introduction........................................................................................1 2. RobertA.TaftInformationTechnologyHighSchool.........................39 3. BrightonHighSchool........................................................................49 4. BrocktonHighSchool........................................................................57 5. WorcesterTechnicalHighSchool......................................................75 6. AmherstRegionalHighSchool..........................................................87 7. BostonLatinAcademy....................................................................101 8. RandolphHighSchool.....................................................................111 9. LynnEnglishHighSchool................................................................123 10. NapervilleCentralandNorthHighSchools(SessionA)..................131 11. NapervilleCentralandNorthHighSchools(SessionB)..................141 12. TechBostonAcademy......................................................................151 13. PaintBranchHighSchool................................................................163 14. ThurgoodMarshallAcademy..........................................................173 15. ManorNewTechnologyHighSchool..............................................183 16. LeeHighSchool ..............................................................................195 .

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E XHIBITS

1. Introduction Exhibit1.1NationalAssessmentofEducationalProgress:Math..............3 Exhibit1.2NationalAssessmentofEducationalProgress:Reading.........3 Exhibit1.3aNewHighSchools(SchoolsStartedwithinthe PastDecade)..............................................................................................5 Exhibit1.3bSchoolsWhosePresentationsFocusedonDepartments......6 Exhibit1.3cSchoolsWhosePresentationsFocusedonWhole SchoolChangeatOlderHighSchools .......................................................6 . Exhibit1.4ValueAddedAchievementGains............................................8 Exhibit1.5RankingsforAverage8thto10thGradeValue AddedGains.............................................................................................9 Exhibit1.6ProficiencyGapsversusTestScoreGaps...............................11 Exhibit1.7GapsinPercentCorrect,forEnglishLanguageArts,in8th and10thGrades.....................................................................................13 Exhibit1.8GapsinPercentCorrect,forMath,in8thand10thGrades.14

2. RobertA.TaftInformationTechnologyHighSchool Exhibit2.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009...........................................39 Exhibit2.2StudentProficiencyRates.....................................................40

3. BrightonHighSchool Exhibit3.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009...........................................49 Exhibit3.28thGradeELADistribution....................................................50 Exhibit3.38thto10thGradeELAGains................................................51 Exhibit3.4SevenTypesofThinkingSkills...............................................53

4. BrocktonHighSchool Exhibit4.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009...........................................57 Exhibit4.28thGradeELADistribution....................................................58 Exhibit4.38thto10thGradeELAGains................................................59 Exhibit4.4FourKeyLeadershipGroups..................................................59 Exhibit4.5FourAreasofIdentifiedSkills................................................61 Exhibit4.6ExamplesofLiteracyCharts ..................................................62 . Exhibit4.7ActiveReadingStrategies......................................................64 Exhibit4.8AdoptingEffectiveInstructionalPractices.............................67 Exhibit4.9OpenResponseFeedbackLoop ............................................69 .

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E XHIBITS ( CONTINUED )

5. WorcesterTechnicalHighSchool Exhibit5.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009...........................................75 Exhibit5.2StudentScoresin2006..........................................................76 Exhibit5.38thGradeMathDistribution.................................................77 Exhibit5.48thto10thGradeMathGains..............................................77 Exhibit5.5ExampleofaGeometryCurriculumMap..............................82

6. AmherstRegionalHighSchool Exhibit6.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009...........................................87 Exhibit6.28thGradeELADistribution...................................................89 Exhibit6.38thto10thGradeELAGains................................................89 Exhibit6.4EnglishDepartmentTeacherDynamic..................................94

7. BostonLatinAcademy Exhibit7.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.........................................101 Exhibit7.28thGradeELADistribution.................................................102 Exhibit7.38thto10thGradeELAGains..............................................103

8. RandolphHighSchool Exhibit8.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.........................................111 Exhibit8.28thGradeELADistribution.................................................112 Exhibit8.38thto10thGradeELAGains.............................................113

9.

LynnEnglishHighSchool

Exhibit9.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.........................................123 Exhibit9.28thGradeMathDistribution...............................................124 Exhibit9.38thto10thGradeMathGains............................................125 Exhibit9.4SevenMajorAreasinNewTeacherEvaluation...................128

10. NapervilleCentralandNorthHighSchools(SessionA) Exhibit10.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.......................................131 Exhibit10.211thGradeTrendsinIllinoisStateExamPerformance.....133 Exhibit10.311thGradeIllinoisMathExamScoresin2009.................133 Exhibit10.4CurriculumDevelopmentProcess.....................................135

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11. NapervilleCentralandNorthHighSchools(SessionB) Exhibit11.1TheTeacherEvaluationProcess........................................143

12. TechBostonAcademy Exhibit12.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.......................................151 Exhibit12.28thGradeMathDistribution ............................................153 . Exhibit12.38thto10thGradeMathGains.........................................153

13. PaintBranchHighSchool Exhibit13.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.......................................163 Exhibit13.2GraduatesTakingatLeastOneAPExam...........................164

14. ThurgoodMarshallAcademy Exhibit14.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.......................................173 Exhibit14.210thGradersProficientonDCCASReadingExam............174 Exhibit14.310thGradersProficientonDCCASMathExam................175

15. ManorNewTechnologyHighSchool Exhibit15.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.......................................183 Exhibit15.2ELAGrowthatManorvs.SimilarTexasSchools 20072008............................................................................................185 Exhibit15.3Example:InstructionalRubricforaProject.......................186 Exhibit15.4NineSchoolwideLearningOutcomes..............................187 Exhibit15.5ProjectEntryDocument....................................................188 Exhibit15.6TheFourPillarsofTAP.......................................................190

16. LeeHighSchool Exhibit16.1StudentCharacteristicsfor2009.......................................195 Exhibit16.2SpringProficiencyGapsbetweenLeeHighand StateofTexas.........................................................................................196 Exhibit16.3ThreeCoreStrategies........................................................197 Exhibit16.4Engagement,Alignment,andRigor(EAR).........................198 Exhibit16.5SampleonEngagementfromaReport.............................199 Exhibit16.6SampleonRigorfromaReport.........................................200

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1.

I NTRODUCTION :H OW H IGH S CHOOLS B ECOME E XEMPLARY

R O NA LD F.F E R GU SO N ,AGI F A C U L T Y C O C HA I R A ND D IR E C TO R
In early 2009, the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University identified fifteen high schools with unusually strong evidence of student learning as measured by gains on standardized state exams. The schools had improved over a period of years. Most were racially and socioeconomically diverse. The AGI invited leaders of the identified schools to a twoday conference in June of 2009 to explain how their schools achieved such outstandingresults.1Thisreport,HowHighSchoolsBecomeExemplary,reviews and summarizes the presentations. The featured schools come from Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and Washington, DC. Each chapterheredetailshowleadersengagedotheradultsinsuccessfuleffortsto improve learning outcomes. The central theme is that schools improved performancebystrivingrelentlesslytoimproveinstruction. Locatedattheboundarybetweenadolescenceandadulthood,highschoolsare criticallyimportantinstitutions.Unfortunately,theyarethemoststubbornpart oftheK12systemtoreformthemostimpervioustochange.2Inhisrecent book,SoMuchReform,SoLittleChange,CharlesPaynediscussesthedifficulty of reforming elementary schools and then comments that The problems of elementaryschoolsareexacerbatedinhighschools.3Highschoolstendtobe fragmentedorganizationsinwhichorderissometimeschallengingtomaintain and where responsibility for improving instruction resides mainly in isolated academic departments and classrooms. Principals are often distracted by crises. Many defer routinely to the subjectmatter expertise of department leaders, seldom interfering with how departments monitor, evaluate, or attempttoimproveteachingandlearning.
1.Officialreportsissuedonstatewebsitessincetheconferenceindicatethat13ofthe 15schoolshaveclearlysustainedthetypeofperformancethatledtheAGItoinvite theirparticipation.ThemostrecentlyavailableresultsforthetwoTexasschoolsare moremixed,buttheirconferencepresentationsdemonstratedthatthesetooare specialschools,stillworthyofinclusioninthisreport. 2.See,forexample,Cuban(1984)andEvans(2003). 3.Payne(2008),p.57.

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National and international data betray the apparent stalemate in American highschoolperformance:

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) LongTerm


TrendAssessmentshowsthatAmericanhighschoolsmadenoprogress raisingreadingandmathtestscoresoverthepastfewdecades,while both elementary and middle schools showed at least modest improvement.(SeeExhibits1.1and1.2onthefollowingpage.)

Internationally, the Programme for International Student Assessment


(PISA) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that many other nations outperform Americanteenagersbyagefifteen.Thisisnotonlybecausestudentsof color do poorly. For example, more than a dozen other nations outperform our white fifteenyear olds in mathematics problem solving.4

Inothernations,highschoolcompletionrateshaveincreasedoverthe
pastseveraldecades.Meanwhile,theU.S.rateismostlyunchangedas wefallfurtherbackintheinternationalcompetition.5 Despite these sobering trends, some high schools have been improving quite impressively, but their stories are not well known. Most of the literature on schoolchangehasfocusedonelementaryandmiddleschools,wherechanges aremorecommonand,darewesay,easiertoachieve. This report asks, How do high schools with exemplary achievement growth achieve such results? In particular, how do they improve instruction? ResearchersandpractitionersposedtheseandotherquestionsinJune2009at the Fifth Annual ResearchtoPractice Conference of the Achievement Gap InitiativeatHarvardUniversity. Chapters of this report are constructed from conference transcripts and exhibits and a limited number of followup interviews. Each session at the conference began with presentations from three schools, followed by an extensive interview by guest experts to elicit details. The experts for the varioussessionswereKarinChenowethofTheEducationTrust,JamesConnell fromtheInstituteforResearchandReforminEducation,RichardMurnaneand
4.BasedondatainthePISAreportfor2003.FormoreonthePISA,seehttp:// www.pisa.oecd.org. 5.SeeEducationataGlancereportsattheOECDwebsite,http://www.oecd.org/ document/24/0,3343,en_2649_39263238_43586328_1_1_1_1,00.html.

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Thomas Payzant from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Jon Saphier of Research for Better Teaching. Stacey Childress of the Harvard Business School cohosted the conference. Chenoweth, Payzant, and Saphier opened the conference with presentations that anticipated some of the themes that emerged later. Marian Brooks of Cambridge Education joined Chenoweth, Connell, and Murnane to wrap up the conference in a final session. Exhibit1.1NationalAssessmentofEducationalProgress:Math

Source:SeesourceforExhibit1.2below.

Exhibit1.2NationalAssessmentofEducationalProgress:Reading

Source:U.S.DepartmentofEducation,InstituteofEducationSciences,NationalCenter forEducationStatistics,NationalAssessmentofEducationalProgress(NAEP),1978, 1982,1986,1990,1992,1994,1996,1999,2004,and2008LongTermTrendReading Assessments.Theyears04aand04brepresenttwoversionsofthetesttheold version(a)andthenewversion(b)tobeusedfrom2004andlater.

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The stories that school leaders told were not primarily about adopting and scalingupprogramsofferedbyexternalvendors,thoughtheschoolsdiddraw upon external advisors. Instead, the stories entail a series of decisions and actionsundertakenoverseveralyears,sometimesaswholeschoolsandother times as departments. Small but expanding alliances of leaders in these high schoolsundertookthefollowingfivestepstobecomingexemplary.They: I. Acceptedtheirresponsibilitytoleadthechangeprocess. II. Declared the purposes of the work in mission statements that focused on a few key ideas and priorities that stakeholders could understandandembrace. III. Designed strategies, plans, capacity, and incentives for broadly inclusiveadultlearning. IV. Developed and refined quality standards for judging teacher and studentwork. V. Skillfully and relentlessly implemented plans, monitored quality, andprovidedappropriatesupportsandincentives. These five steps to becoming exemplary can be understood as a cycle that repeats as a schools conception of the problem to be solved evolves. It is notable that none of the schools became successful primarily by replicating prepackaged programs. Instead, skilled and committed leadership teams combinedprinciplesandpracticesinnovelwaystofituniquecircumstances.6 For example, Jon Saphier noted one key principle when he pointed out that school leaders recognized at least implicitly that dramatic progress required somechangesthatneededtobebothnonnegotiableandwithinthescopeof their formal positional authority. In addition to their formal authority, teams effectivenessdependedaswellupontheirinformallyearnedauthorityaform ofauthoritythatgrewhandinhandwiththedevelopmentof trustalongthe four dimensions of motives, competence, reliability, and collegiality.7 We suggestthattrustworthinessenabledteamsofschoolleaderstohelpteachers andotherstakeholdersovercometheirinitialfearofchange.

6.Moststudentsofschoolchangemakeasimilarpoint,concerningtheneedtocraft uniquesolutionstofitlocalcontexts,butusingwellknownprinciples.See,forexample, readingsinthebibliographytothischapter. 7.SeeBrykandSchneider(2002)andBryketal.(2010)forrelatedideasaboutthe importanceoftrustinschools.

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Wehopethatthebasicconceptsweusetoorganizetheconferenceslessons specifically,thefivestepstobecomingexemplary,thefourtrustquestions,the six fears, and earned authoritywill make the conclusions we distill in this introductory overview both coherent and useful. Following a section on the characteristicsoffeaturedschools,thischapterhassectionsoneachofthefive stepstobecomingexemplary.Eachendswithasetofimpliedprescriptionsthat arerepeatedintheappendixtothischapter.

C HARACTERISTICS OF F EATURED S CHOOLS


The featured schools come from several states. Those from outside MassachusettscomefromIllinois,Maryland,Ohio,Texas,andWashington,DC. They were identified by key informants who responded to the AGIs national searchin early 2009. Each schools writeup in the body of this report begins withsomedemographicandachievementdataforthatparticularschoolandis followedbyastoryofprogress. Three distinct groups of schools are represented. Schools in one group (see Exhibit 1.3a) opened within the past decade. They were able to select their staffsandwereguidedfromthestartbystrongleaderswithambitiousvisions. Exhibit1.3aNewHighSchools(SchoolsStartedwithinthePastDecade)
TechBostonAcademy(Boston,MA)isasmall,districtfunded,noncharterpublic schoolwithaninterdisciplinarytechnologycurriculum.Administratorshave unusualcontroloverstaffing,curriculum,andgovernance,andallteacherslearn inprofessionallearningactivitiestointegrateeffectiveliteracyandmath instructionacrosssubjects. ThurgoodMarshallAcademy(Washington,DC)isasmallcharterschoolwhere administratorsuseaquarterlybenchmarksystemtoidentifylearninggapsand reallocateresourcesincludingstaffinwaysthatimprovestudentachievement. Teachersparticipateinquarterlyprofessionaldevelopmentactivitieswith instructionalleaderstodevelopstrategiesspecifictotheirstudents. ManorNewTechnologyHighSchool(Manor,TX)isasmallprojectbased instructionschoolwhereallteachingoccursthroughinterdisciplinaryprojects thatallowstudentcenteredlearningandcollaboration,aidedbycuttingedge computertechnology.

A second group includes schools whose main story at the conference concerned mainly the work of a single department that had excellent leadership and strong working relationships among teachers who were committedtotheirstudents.(SeeExhibit1.3b.)Thethirdisagroupofschools that are not recent startups and whose stories entailed substantial whole schoolreform.(SeeExhibit1.3c.)Whilethestartupsandexemplary 2009AGIConferenceReport 5|P a g e

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Exhibit1.3bSchoolsWhosePresentationsFocusedonDepartments
AmherstRegionalHighSchool(Amherst,MA),EnglishDepartment.Amherst Englishteacherscollaboratetodifferentiateinstructioninraciallyheterogeneous, mixedachievementlevelclassrooms. BostonLatinAcademy(Boston,MA),EnglishDepartment.BostonLatinAcademy isanexamschoolbasedonaclassical,rigorouscurriculum,wherecommon assessmentsandplanningtimeprovideopportunitiesforteacherstoconfer aboutproblemsofprofessionalpractice. LynnEnglishHighSchool(Lynn,MA),MathDepartment.LynnEnglish mathematicsteacherscollaboratetoanalyzecommonassessments,identify learninggaps,andimprovetheirpracticethroughkeyprofessionaldevelopment partnershipswithalocalcollegeandaschoolimprovementorganization. PaintBranchHighSchool(MontgomeryCounty,MD),APWorldHistory.Paint BranchrecruitsstudentsespeciallythoseofdisadvantagedbackgroundstoAP levelcourses,whereteachersdifferentiaterigorousinstructionacrossskilllevels usingtechniqueslearnedinschoolbasedprofessionaldevelopmentactivities.

Exhibit1.3cSchoolsWhosePresentationsFocusedonWholeSchoolChange atOlderHighSchools
NapervilleCentralandNorthHighSchools(Naperville,IL)areschoolswhere teacherledsteeringcommitteeswritemostofthecurriculumandstudent assessmentsbasedontheUnderstandingbyDesigninstructionalframework. RobertA.TaftInformationTechnologyHighSchool(Cincinnati,OH)isa technicalhighschoolwithstrategicbusinesspartnershipsthatsupportthe schoolwithimportantresources.Teacherslearntoexcelfromhighperforming masterteacherteamsandincorporatewritingandliteracyinstructionacrossthe curriculum. BrightonHighSchool(Brighton,MA)isaschoolwhereadministratorspartner withalocaleducationnonprofittotargetinterventionsforenteringstudents andtoguideteacherprofessionalimprovementeffortsinEnglishLanguageArts instruction. BrocktonHighSchool(Brockton,MA)isaschoolwhereadministratorsand teacherleadersdirectteachertrainingworkshopstoincorporateliteracy instructionacrossthecurriculum.ItisthelargestschoolinMassachusettsand amongthehighestachieving,asmeasuredby8thto10thgradetestscoregains. WorcesterTechnicalHighSchool(Worcester,MA)isaschoolwhereallteachers, technicalandnontechnical,aretrainedbymodelteacherstoincorporate writinginstructionacrossthecurriculum. RandolphHighSchool(Randolph,MA)isaschoolwhereadministratorscraft professionaldevelopmentactivitiestoteachteachershowtoembedhigher orderthinkingskillsthroughoutthecurriculum. LeeHighSchool(Houston,TX)isaschoolwherelessonplanningandteacher professionaldevelopmentisdrivenbykeyindicatorsstudentengagement, lessonalignment,andrigorofmaterialsandcontentinvariousinterdisciplinary smallgroupsettingsledbyinstructionalcoaches.

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departments are impressive and will be of great interest to readers, most examplesinthisintroductioncomefromthewholeschoolreformgroup.

V A L U E A DD E D G A I N S I N M A S SA CH U S ET T S
Schools were selected for this study by making comparisons of their performance.Generally,however,testscorelevelsorproficiencyratesarenot by themselves good indicators of school performance. Students start from different skill and knowledge levels and have different family background circumstancesthatmayaffecttheirlearning. Ideally, we want to compare how much students learn through their schoolingwe want to know the value that the school adds to what the students know and are able to do. If done well, estimates of valueadded achievement gains are superior to other test score indicators for judging whetherstudentsatsomeschoolsarelearningmorethanstudentsatothers. Conceptually, a students valueadded achievement gain over any particular time interval is theincrease in knowledge or skill thathe or she accumulates duringthatperiodbecauseofthevalueaddedbyschooling.8Eachschoolhas anaveragevalueforanyparticularstudentcohort. TheAGIselectedMassachusettsschoolsbased,inearly2009,ontheiraverage estimated valueadded achievement gains from when students were 8th graders in spring 2006 to when they were 10thgraders in 2008.9 The value added gain for any given student in a subject such as math from 8th to 10th gradeisestimatedasthatportionofthetestscorelevelattheendofthe10th gradethatisleftoverafterremovingtheportionthatwaspredictablebasedon thestudentspriortestscoresanddemographiccharacteristics. Exhibit 1.4 presents a graphical representation of this idea. For a group of students with equal 8thgrade scores and equal demographic characteristics, thevalueaddedachievementgainforeachoneisrepresentedbythedistance from the dotted line to the end of each one of the arrows. As the exhibit shows, this left over gain that approximates valueadded achievement growthcanbeeitherpositiveornegative.
8.SeeBraunetal.(2010)forarecentNationalResearchCouncilandNationalAcademy ofEducationreportonvalueaddedmethodology. 9.SomeMassachusettsschoolsachievedquitehighvalueaddedlevelsandweremore thanninetypercentwhite,withextremelylowratesofqualificationforfreeand reducedpricemeals.Others,however,werediversebothraciallyandsocio economically.Themoreraciallyandsocioeconomicallydiverseschoolsweregiven priorityasinviteesbecauseoftheAGIsfocusonachievementgaps.

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Exhibit1.4ValueAddedAchievementGains

How8thto10thgradevalueaddedachievementgainsaremeasuredforagroupof studentswithidenticalscoresandothercharacteristicsattheendof8thgrade. Thelevelofthedottedlineistheaverage10thgradescoreamongallstudentsinthe statewhohadthesame8thgradeMCASscoreandthesamedemographic characteristics.Thedottedlineisatauniquelevelforeachuniquecombinationof8th gradescoresandcharacteristics. Eacharrowrepresentsastudent.Foreachstudent,valueaddedachievementgrowthis thedistancefromthedottedlinetothetipofthearrow.Afterscalingtoadjustfor differencesinthevariationofgrowthatdifferentstarting8thgradevalues,summing thevalueaddedgrowthmeasureacrossthe10thgradersinaschoolgivesameasure oftheaveragevalueaddedachievementgainfortheschool.

Averaging this (scaled)10measureofvalueaddedachievementgainsacrossthe students in each school shows that all of the featured schools from Massachusetts outperformed most other schools in the state. Gains were measuredusingtheMassachusettsComprehensiveAssessmentSystem(MCAS) test.TheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation(MADOE)suppliedthedata that the AGI used to calculate gains for 200608. Later, after the AGI conference,theMADOEreleaseditsownreportongainsfrom200709.11Most
10.Beforecompilingtheschoolaveragemeasures,the8thto10thgradegainswere standardizedstatewidetohaveameanofzeroandstandarddeviationequalto1for eachvalueofthe8thgradescore.Thisway,studentsfromeachpointinthe8thgrade distributionhaveappropriatelyproportionedinfluenceontheirschoollevelaverages. 11.BoththeAGIandMADOEmodelsforcalculatinggainscompareeachstudentto otherswhohadthesameMCAStestscoreastheythemselvesdidin8thgrade(and sometimesinearliergradesaswell).Bothmethodsanswerthe question,Howwell didstudentsdoovertime,comparedtostudentswithsimilarachievementhistories? Bothstandardizeinwaysthatmakeschoolsindifferentpartsofthetestscore distributioncomparableforthepurposeofassessinggains.

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schoolshadsimilarrankingsforthetwoperiods,indicatingboththestabilityof schoolperformanceandtheclosesimilarityofproceduresthattheAGIandthe MADOEusedtoproducetheestimates.Rankingschoolsbytheaveragegains that their students achieved, we can calculate a percentile ranking for each school, equal to the percentage of other schools in Massachusetts that achieved smaller average gains.For the two periods 200608 and 200709, Exhibit1.5showspercentilesforeachMassachusettsschoolinthesubjectfor which itwas featured at the conference. The exhibitshows that the featured schoolsachievedgreatergainsthan70,80,andsometimeseven90percentof Exhibit1.5RankingsforAverage8thto10thGradeValueAddedGains atFeaturedSchoolsinFeaturedSubjects,Calculatedfor200608by theAGIandfor200709bytheMADepartmentofEducation

Math

ELA

Note:Schoolpercentileranksforvalueaddedachievementgainsfor200608were computedbytheAGIusingdatasuppliedbytheMassachusettsDepartmentof Education(MADOE). For200709,theMADOEpublishedschoolaveragestudentgrowthpercentilesby schoolonitswebsite.TheAGIrankedschoolsusingtheschoolaveragestudentgrowth percentilesontheMADOEwebsitetogettheschoolpercentileranks,shownherefor 200709.

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other Massachusetts high schools. The calculations are standardized in ways that do not advantage or penalize a school in the comparison because its studentsstartedfromhighorlowbaselinescoresin8thgrade.12Eachstudent is compared only to other students whose measured socioeconomic backgrounds and prior testperformances match his or her own.In effect the rankingsapproximatehowwelleachschoolperformedcomparedtohowother schoolswouldhaveperformedifallhadservedthesamestudents.

T E ST S CO RE G A P S V ER S U S P R O FI C IE N C Y G A P S
Progress on narrowing test score gaps for the Massachusetts schools is reportedhereusingaveragetestscores,notproficiencyrates.Proficiencyrates are less precise for such purposes and more likely to be misleading.13For example,theproficiencygapmaychangesubstantiallywithlittleornochange intheaveragescoregap. Simply imagine two student groups with different bellshaped test score distributionsonthesamegraphwithsimilardegreesofspread,butonehasa higher mean, such as the configuration for Panel A in Exhibit 1.6. Imagine a fixed proficiency cut score, such as that indicated by the vertical line in the exhibit.Basicstatisticstellsusthattheareaundereachdistributiontotheright of the proficiency cut score equals the proficiency ratethe percentage of studentsineachrespectivegroupthatisproficient. Now,slidebothdistributionsthesamedistancetotheright,asinamovefrom Panel A to Panel B in the exhibit. This narrows the proficiency gap, since the areaunderthecurvetotherightoftheproficiencycutpointinotherwords, theproficiencyratechangedmoreforthelowerachievinggroup.Notealso, however, that the difference in average scores is unchanged (the length of segmentABequalsthelengthofCD). Thus, narrowing the proficiency gap between groups does not necessarily narrowthetestscoregap.WhatwewantisamoveanalogoustothatinPanel C, where both groups have achieved complete proficiency and the achievement gap is closing as well. As measured by average scores, not only proficiencyrates,theschoolsfeaturedattheAGIconferencemadeprogressin closingtestscoregapscomparedtowhitestudentsintherestofthestate.

12.Seefootnotes10and11. 13.SeeKoretz(2008,especiallyCh.8)fordiscussionofthemanywaystesting measuresandusescanbemisleading.

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Exhibit1.6ProficiencyGapsversusTestScoreGaps
PanelA

Test Scores
A B

PanelB

PanelC

Proficiency CutScore

Thegapinaveragetestscoresbetweenthegroupsrepresentedbythetwotestscore distributionsineachpanelaboveisthehorizontaldistancefrompointAtopointB,orC toD,orEtoF. Theproficiencyrateisthepercentageofeachgroupthatachievesproficiency.Foreach group,thisisrepresentedbytheareaunderthetestscoredistributiontotherightof theproficiencycutscore. Theproficiencygapisthedifferencebetweentheareastotherightoftheproficiency cutscore.Regardinggaps,theproficiencygapgetssmallermovingfrompanelsAtoB toC.However,thetestscoregap(AB)inPanelAequalsthegap(CD)inPanelB,while thegap(EF)inPanelCissmallest.

N ARROWING R ACIAL G APS U SING E XTERNAL B ENCHMARKS


Closing achievement gaps between racial groups in the United States is an important national goal. Nonetheless, school leaders who focus narrowly on closing gaps between their own students face several risks. By focusing on closing gaps more than on raising achievement, schools may select less 2009AGIConferenceReport 11|P a g e

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effective intervention strategies and achieve less than maximal achievement growth,evenamongstudentsonthebottomsideofthegap.Schoolsmayalso squanderthesupportofparentsfromhigherachievinggroupswhosepolitical backingisimportantformaintainingtheflowofresourcesandauthorizations.14 Asadults,studentswill competewiththerestof theworld,nottheir current classmates. Therefore, the most important standards of local comparison are broader, external benchmarks from the state, the nation, and the world. If a schoolscompetitivebenchmarkisameasureofachievementrepresentingthe state as a wholefor example, the average score for white students in the statethenthatschoolcanfocusonraisingtheperformanceofeverygroupin theschool,comparedtotheexternalbenchmark.Theschoolsfocusonclosing gaps can be served by raising achievement among children from every background, albeit with a special emphasis on students from the lowest performing groups. Closing the gap between each individual group and the externalbenchmarkbecomesthegapclosinggoal. Measured this way, the schools in this report have shown progress. For example, achievement gaps for each racial group at the featured Massachusetts schools were narrower in 10th grade than in 8th grade comparedtothestatewideaveragescoresforwhitestudents.Exhibits1.7and 1.8 illustrate the degrees to which gaps narrowed for English Language Arts (ELA)andmath,respectively.15 Forexample,Exhibit1.7showsthatattheendof8thgrade,blackandHispanic students at Brockton High scored 19.4 percent fewer correct answers in ELA thanwhitepeersacrossMassachusettsdid. Thisachievementgapdiminished toonly6.7percentinjusttwoyearsagapreductionof65.4percent!16Atthe same time, the exhibit shows that white students at Brockton High scored
14.Indeed,weknowofatleasttwosuperintendentsinsuburbancommunitieswho havebeenpushedoutoftheirjobsbecauseparentsofhighachievinggroupsresented theheavyfocusonclosingachievementgapsandelectedschoolboardmembersto changedistrictpriorities. 15.Becausethepurposeistorateschools,wewantthesamestudentsinthe calculationforboth8thand10thgradesandwewantthemtohaveattendedthehigh schoollongenoughtohaveitaffecttheirscores.So,studentswhodidnotattendthe sameschoolforboth9thand10thgradesordidnothavescoresforboth8thand10th gradearenotincludedinthecalculations. 16.Toconverttostandarddeviationeffectsizes,notethatthestandarddeviationsof percentcorrectacrossallstudentsinthestatewere:17.4and14.4inEnglish LanguageArtsin8thgradeand10thgraderespectively;and23.2and22.7inmathin 8thand10thgrades,respectively.

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Exhibit1.7GapsinPercentCorrect,forEnglishLanguageArts,in8thand10th GradesComparedtoMassachusettsWhiteStudentsStateAverage

lowerthanotherwhitestudentsinMassachusettsattheendof8thgradebut surpassedthembytheendof10thgrade.Exhibit1.8onthenextpageshows that in math, black and Hispanic students at TechBoston ended 8th grade 27 percentage points behind Massachusetts white students but closed to within 5.6percentbytheendof10thgrade.Thisrepresentsa79.4percentnarrowing oftheMCASmathematicsgap.

F IVE S TEPS TO B ECOMING E XEMPLARY


Alloftheschoolsfeaturedinthisreporthavemadeimpressiveprogresstoward becomingexemplary.Howdidtheydoit?TeamscametotheAGIconference 2009AGIConferenceReport 13|P a g e

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Exhibit1.8GapsinPercentCorrect,forMath,in8thand10thGrades ComparedtoMassachusettsWhiteStudentsStateAverage

prepared to help us understand how multiple forms of transformational leadership, both organizational and instructional, have contributed to their progress.17 The impetus for transformation was often unexpected. Stakeholders were alerted to a problem or an opportunity that made the status quo ante unsatisfactory or unsustainable. Progress seldom unfolded smoothly, but requiredsustainedeffortovertimethroughmultiplephases.Todistillthemes, we organized what we have learned into five steps to becoming exemplary,

17.Formoreontransformationalleadershipandstudentachievement,seeLeithwood andJantzi(2005).

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listed previously on page 4. The next several sections give examples and summarizethemesforeachofthesteps.

I.R E S P O N SI B IL IT Y T O L E A D TH E C HA NG E P R O C E S S
The first step toward becoming exemplary was that a small group of leaders accepted responsibility to lead the change process. Early steps rested fundamentallyontheworkofthiscoregroup.Thegroupcompositionvaried, sometimes containing only administrators and sometimes mixtures of administrators and teachers. In each case, they shared convictionsoften expressed as moral convictionsthat they had a collective responsibility to improve. They expressed their convictions prior to proposing recipes for successorpresentingevidencethatsuccesswaspossible. State accountability policies were key. State test results gave schools ways to objectively compare their performances to others and to measure progress. The need to do better on state tests provided school leaders with rationales theycouldusetocajoleotherstojoinineffortstoimprove. For example, passing the MCAS examination is now a requirement for high school graduation in the state of Massachusetts. A decade ago, several years beforetherequirementwasinforce,peopleknewitwascoming.Atthetime, MCASresultsatBrocktonHighSchoolweredismal.Onestafferpredictedthat when the requirement was ultimately enforced, Brockton High, the largest schoolinthestateofMassachusettswithwellover4,000students,wouldbe abletoholdthegraduationceremonyinaclassroombecausesofewstudents would pass. Concern helped motivate a core group of leaders to form a Restructuring Committee that began meeting on Saturdays to chart a new course.TheappointedleaderswerethechairsoftheEnglishandSocialStudies Departments.Theyhadtobegtheirfriendstoparticipate.Now,adecadelater, the Restructuring Committee still meets and is a big part of how the school becameexemplary. When the state of Illinois decided in the late 1990s to begin using the ACT college entrance exam as an accountability test for 11th graders, district leadersatNaperville,Illinois,useditasanopportunitytoreviewandrevision instructionalnormsatNapervillestwohighschools.Accordingtotheassociate superintendent for instruction, that was the key defining moment for NapervilleCentralandNorthhighschools.Leadersdecidedthattheywerenot preparing enough of their students for college and resolved to remake themselvesascollegereadyinstitutions.

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However,accountabilitypoliciesarenotalwaystheonlyimpetus.Sometimes, conditions just hit rock bottom and something has to be done. When the currentleadersarrivedatRobertA.TaftInformationTechnologyHighSchoolin Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2000, the school was among the lowest achieving in the state. It was chaotic and ineffective. The graduation rate was 18 percent and scores were extremely low. Cincinnatis superintendent recruited a new principaltoturntheschoolaround.Onopeningdayofhissecondyearatthe school,theprincipalaskedteachers:Aren'tyoutiredofteachingatthelowest performingschoolinthestate?Andtheteachersresponded,Yeah,surewe are tired of teaching at the lowestperforming school in the state. He suggested that anyone who did not want to be part of the improvement processshouldnotreturnafterlunch.Everyonereturned.By2008,theschool wasstillover90percentAfricanAmerican,withabouthalfqualifyingforfree and reduced price lunches. However, the graduation rate was around 90 percent and black students at the school scored higher than the statewide averageforwhitestudentsonOhiostateexamsinmath,reading,andscience. The stories that some teams told at the conference focused mainly on leadership and professional community in a particular department. These included the World History Department at Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. In Massachusetts, they included the English DepartmentsatAmherstRegionalHighSchoolandBostonLatinAcademyand the Mathematics Department at Lynn English High School. According to the department chair in mathematics at Lynn English, she and her staff were motivated by a combination of factors: a desire to be judged highly by an externalaccreditationboard,acommitmenttohelpstudentsachieveadequate yearlyprogressontheMCAS,andcompetitionwithmathdepartmentsatother city schools. Concerning the other schools, she reported, We are always fightingforbraggingrights. Whether representing a department or a whole school, someone or some group at the featured schools decided that the status quo was unacceptable. Moreimportantly,theydecidedthattheyhadaresponsibilitytoimproveit. Based on reports from the featured schools, an implied set of prescriptions aboutresponsibilityandchangeleadershipemerged.Thesewere:

Asmallcoreofcurrentorpotentialleadersshoulddecidetogetherthat
changeisnecessary.Theyshouldacceptresponsibility(thoughnotsole responsibility)formakingithappen.

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Members of the leadership group should agree upon a set of non


negotiable ideas and goals around which they will be united as they engageothers.

II.M I S SI O N S TA TE M EN T S A ND F O CU S ED P RI O RI TI E S 1 8
The second step toward becoming exemplary was that the leadership group declaredthepurposesoftheworkinmissionstatementsthatfocusedonafew key ideas and priorities that stakeholders could understand and embrace. Change was not always welcomed. Some adults seemed to believe that they wereperformingaswellaspossible,giventhestudentsthattheywereserving. Still, leaders working to instigate change had a sense of responsibility that fueledtheirsearchforwaystoimprove. Insome cases,they convened communitylevelmeetingstodeclaretheneed for improvement, to seek input for crafting mission statements, to seek support, and to give their efforts legitimacy. They developed mission statements,definedkeypriorities,andarticulatedprinciples.Forexample,the Restructuring Committee at Brockton High identified four skillsreading, writing, speaking, and reasoningon which they intended to have the whole school focus, meaning every teacher in every subject. The committee chose these particular skills on the advice of members of the community, who told the committee that if students had those skills, they would be wellprepared forcollegeoremployment. Around 2005, administrators at Randolph High School asserted three basic propositions concerning the way they would transform the school: (1) teach students,notsubjects;(2)createschoolwidechange,notisolatedchange;(3) foster smaller learning communities that give all teachers and students opportunitiesforrigorousacademicandsociallearning.Theyresolvedtoavoid the socalled pedagogy of the poor, meaning that they would refuse to use drillandkill to prepare students for the MCAS. Instead they would embed higherorderthinkingskillsthroughoutthecurriculumtopreparestudentsfor beinglifelonglearners. AdministratorsattheNapervillehighschoolsorganizedavisioningprocess.The outcomeofthatprocesswasavisionstatement.Itstipulatedthattheschools mission was to create students who would be collaborative workers, self directed learners, quality producers, and community contributors. They also resolvedtoprotectstudentsfromadverseconsequences,givethemchoices,
18.Formoreontheimportanceofvisioninorganizationalchange,seeKotter(1996), Kotter(1998)andSenge(1990).

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and provide affiliation and affirmation. Leaders asserted that their existing approaches to curriculum and instruction were not sufficient to meet these idealsandthatmajorreformswereneededinteachingandlearning. InMaryland,leadersinMontgomeryCountyhaddecidedseveralyearsagoto focus seriously on narrowingracial achievement gaps in Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment and performance. They considered the percentages of students of color taking and passing AP exams to be unacceptably low and pressedhighschoolstoincreaseAPenrollmentandperformance.Theprincipal at Paint Branch High School took this directive especially seriously and impresseditonherteachers.Theschoolworkedtohaveasmanystudentsas possibletakeandsucceedinAPcourses,includingmanystudentswhowould nothavetakenAPcourses. Most of the featured schools, including those cited above, have existed for decades. However, some are much newer, having opened during the past decade.ThelatterincludeTechBostonAcademyinBoston,Massachusetts,and Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, DC. No matter how long their doors have beenopen, recentsuccesses growout of ambitious missions that haveguidedtheirwork. Based on reports from the featured schools, an implied set of prescriptions relatedtomissionandfocusemerged.Thesewere:

Leadershipgroupsshouldengageotherstakeholdersincraftingmission
statementsandarticulatingpriorities.

Missionstatementsshouldemphasizebigpictureoutcomesofstudent
learningthe major skills the schools will teach more effectively, the qualitiesstudentswilldevelopasaconsequenceoftheseskills,orthe rolesforwhichbetterskillsandqualitieswillpreparestudents.

As they engage other stakeholders, leadership groups should make it


clear that improving curriculum and instruction is a nonnegotiable elementoftheschoolsstrategytoimproveacademicoutcomes.

III.S T RA T EG IE S A N D P LA N S FO R H IG H Q U A L ITY A D U L T L E A R NI NG
The third step toward becoming exemplary was that leaders, in collaboration with various stakeholders and advisors, designed strategies, plans, capacity, andincentivesforbroadlyinclusiveadultlearning. The featured schools devoted a great deal of time and effort to developing strongcapacitiesandnormsforinstructionalleadership.Inturn,instructional leadersworkedhardtodevelopstrategiesandplansforeffectivelysupporting 18|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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teachers. As a consequence, teachers at these schools had reasons to trust theirleadersandtoovercomefearsthatoftenundergirdresistancetochange. These schools tended to have welldeveloped, transparent, and dependable procedures for identifying professional development priorities and crafting associated materials and activities for adult learning.19Some relied heavily on external partners, including supports from their districts, while others did muchoftheworkinhouse. Initially, most of these schools organized discussions among their staffs to identifyspecificprofessionaldevelopmentpriorities.Oftentheseconversations weretense,becausetherewasnoconsensusthatchangesofparticulartypes wereneeded.Typically,finaldecisionsonhowtoproceedwerenotcompletely democratic. Several of the featured schools described early disagreements. In Naperville, departmentswentthroughdiscussionsaimedatgettingbuyintothethemes that district leaders had selected (cited above). The Math Department chair reportsthatsometimespeoplewantedtojustwalkoutofthemeetings.He told them, We need to hear those voices, we need to hear what your concernsare,weneedtotalkaboutthis,andweneedtoworkthroughthose issues.Thesediscussionscreatedatrustsystemthatallowedustogetdown to the nittygritty of designing a curriculum that works. When asked how democratictheprocessofdesigninganewcurriculumwas,heacknowledged that,Westeeredit...Thereweresomenonnegotiables. For example, the idea that Naperville would promote inquirybased learning wasanonnegotiable.Theultimateoutcomewasthecurrentarrangement,in which teacher representatives from both high schools sit on a steering committee for each subject area. This steering committee writes the inquiry based curriculum and associated assessments and then teaches it to colleagues.Thecurriculumwritingprocessbeginswithanexaminationofstate and national standards in the subject area. Development of new curriculums typicallytakesbetweentwoandthreeyears,repeatedincyclesofaboutseven years. AnonnegotiableatBrocktonHighandWorcesterTechwasthateveryfaculty memberwouldhavetoteachwritinganduseaschoolwiderubricforgrading it.Bothschoolsrecognizedthatwritingcouldsupportlearningineverysubject, and that learning to teach and grade writing could build staff unity across all
19.Formoreinformationaboutthequalitiesofexperiencesthatpromoteteacher professionaldevelopment,seeGaretetal.(2001).

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grades and subjects. Leaders described how their schools developed lessons for teachers and students on the skills needed on openresponse MCAS questions.However,thefocuswasnotjustonMCAS.Teachersinallgradesand all content areas were required to emphasize skills involved in writing to a prompt, including activereading strategies for understanding openresponse questions. These skills were important for math and ELA alikeeven for vocational skills classes. In fact, academic and vocation teachers actively collaborated on crafting openresponse questions with reallife, relevant content. Collaborationbetweenadministratorsandteacherstodesignlearningactivities forbothteachersandstudentswereimportantinallofthefeaturedschools.20 Even the presentations thatemphasized departmentlevel rather than whole school worksuch as Lynn English, Amherst Regional, Paint Branch, and BostonLatinAcademyindicatedthatprofessionaldevelopmentplanningwas collaborative. Among the wholeschool examples, Naperville and Brockton had the most matureschoolwidesystems.Asindicatedabove,teamsofNapervilleteachers design the curriculum, including associated assessments and methods for teaching the curriculum to peers. Similarly, Brockton High Schools RestructuringCommitteereviewstheplansforprofessionaldevelopmentthat their colleagues create under the leadership of the associate principal. Professional development sessions at Brockton are teacherled in relatively smallgroups,usingtheapprovedscripts.Whennewmaterialsareintroduced, curricular adaptations take place in departmental meetings and are later reviewedbytheassociateprincipal. All of the schools planned and implemented mechanisms through which departmentchairsorinstructionalcoachesprovideteacherswithpersonalized feedback on their instruction. For example, presenters from Randolph High described how skilled instructional coaches work with teachers both individually and in small groups to provide differentiated support, tailoring theirassistancetoindividualteachersneeds. Theschoolsalsohavearrangementsinplacetoanalyzeandorganizedatafor use in planning and professional development. For example, Brockton has a formal data team that analyzes data and prepares reports for use by various
20.Ametaanalysisfrompeerreviewedarticlesfrom19782006byRobinsonetal. (2008)identifiedthatpromotingandparticipatinginteacherlearningand developmenthadthelargestaverageeffectsizeamongfiveleadershipqualitiesthat leadtostudentachievementgains.

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committees. Naperville has instructional coordinators who help teacher leaderstousedatafromtheschoolsdatawarehouse.Thedatawarehouseis an online system for keeping track of the multiple types of data that inform planningandinstruction. Based on reports from the featured schools in the body of this report, an impliedsetofprescriptionsfordevelopingstrategiesandplansemerged.These were:

Set learning goals and professional development plans for teachers


withthesamecareandqualityasthebestteachersusetosetlearning goalsfortheirstudents.

Pursuealimitednumberofadultlearningprioritiesatanygiventime. Providegenuineopportunitiesforinputfromadministrators,teachers,
andotherinterestedstakeholders.

Maintainandmonitoraformalcalendarofspecificdatesandtimesfor
meetingsandforcompletingimportanttasks.

Formalize responsibility for the intellectual work that supports


professionallearning,includinganalyzingandreportingdataforusein strategic deliberations (for example, establish a data team of administrators and teachers with clearly defined duties and dates for reporting).

IV.C L EA R A ND U S A B LE C RI TE R IA FO R J U DG IN G Q U A L ITY W O RK 2 1
The fourth step toward becoming exemplary was that the schools developed andrefinedqualitystandardsforjudgingteacherandstudentwork.Indeed,all of the schools had formal ways of making judgments about the quality of teachingandlearning.Theseincludedrubricsforstudentworkandassociated formats for teacher evaluation. In addition, schools established both formal andinformalproceduresconcerningthewaysthatthesemeasuresweretobe used. TheNapervillehighschoolsactivelymonitorstudentengagement,inaddition to written work. Teams conduct walkthroughs to observe and rate student engagementbehaviors.Theycompilebuildinglevelsummariesanddiscussthe implications for school improvement. The schools have formal criteria for judgingbothhowandhowmuchstudentsareengagedintheireducation.

21.Formoreaboutsettingqualitystandardsforteacherwork,seeDanielsonetal. (2010).

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Almostallofthefeaturedschoolspayattentiontotheconsistencyofgrading and feedback to students. For example, Napervilles curriculum committees and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) designed new student assessments.Theyalsobegantoreviewthegradingsystemwithaviewtoward standardizingwhateachgrademeans.Recognizingthatdifferentteachershad different grading standards, each PLC developed a universal Grading Positioning Statement (GPS). Once instated, the GPS became a tool for discussionsamongteachersandbetweenteachersandstudents.Itisusedto explain grading criteria to students and to help them understand what they need to do in order to earn higher marks. Under certain circumstances, studentscanearntheprivilegetorepeatassignmentsinordertoearnhigher marks.Allowingstudentstorepeatanassignmentisoneaspectoftheschools strategytohelpstudentsavoidadverseconsequences,agoalexpressedinthe Napervillemissionstatement. Instead of a GPS, Brockton has an openresponse rubric that has undergone severalrevisionssinceitsappearancealmostadecadeago.Thepurposeofthe rubric is to help guide the teaching and learning of writing and to align the gradingofwritingassignmentsacrossgradesandsubjects.AstheRestructuring Committee continued to identify systematic weaknesses in student writing, they have revised the rubric. Brockton leaders judge the current rubric to be quitegood,andtheycontinuetouseit.Teachershandingradedstudentwork todepartmentchairs,andthechairsreviewacrosssectionofthatworkwith the associate principal. Using the rubric, the associate principal advises the department chairs on the feedback that chairs provide to teachers and that teachersprovidetostudents.Thisprocessiscarefullyscheduledinadvanceon a system of calendars that the department chairs and associate principal manage. AfterBrocktonHighadopteditsemphasisonthefourskillsreading,writing, speaking, and reasoningthey conducted discussions to develop consensus aboutthecoreelementsofeachskill.Basedonthesediscussions,theyposted a 16x20inch literacy chart on the wall of every classroom in the building, so that teachers and students alike would be constantly reminded of those elements. Basedonreportsfromthefeaturedschools,animpliedsetofprescriptionsfor judgingqualityworkemerged.Thesewere:

Define rubrics for judging instructional practice, for use in teacher


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Develop rubrics for judging student work, for use in lesson planning,
grading, feedback from teachers to students, and feedback from supervisorstoteachers.

Periodically review and revise the rubrics to correct weaknesses


identifiedbymonitoringstudentworkandinstructionalpractices.

V.S K I L LFU L A N D R ELE N TL E S S I M P L E M EN TA TI O N


Thefifthsteptowardbecomingexemplarywasthatadministratorsandteacher leaders skillfully and relentlessly implemented plans, monitored quality, and providedappropriatesupportsandincentives. Implementation most strongly sets the featured schools apart from other schools. At the conference, discussions of implementation centered on overcoming resistance.22 Indeed, more than anything else, researchers and practitioners wanted to know how leaders at featured schools overcame resistancetochange,especiallyfrom their mostexperienced(andsometimes complacent)colleagues.
TRUSTANDEARNEDAUTHORITY

Featured schools overcame resistance only partly through the power that leadersexertedandthestressesthattheywerewillingtoimposeandtolerate. Suchtensionsandstressweresometimesabsolutelynecessary.However,more importanttotheirstorieswastheleadersabilitytobuildtrustintheirmotives, their competence, their reliability, and their collegiality. Intellectual diligence, courage, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices helped these leaders earntheinformalauthoritytowieldeffectiveinfluencethecapacitytolead. ResistanceRootedinSixFears When speakers from featured schools responded to questions concerning resistance, several ideas emerged concerning standard roots of resistance amongadultstakeholders.Wecallthemthesixfears: 1. Fearofwastingtimeandenergy.Leadersmightnotfollowthrough on new agendas, or the ideas embedded in those agendas might notbeworthpursuing. 2. Fear of losing autonomy. New agendas might require activities, materials,ormethodsthatdifferfromwhattheteacherprefersor isaccustomedto.
22.Forinsightfulreadingsonresistanceandotherimpedimentstochange,see,for example,Elmore(2007);HeifetzandLinsky(2002);KeganandLahey(2009).

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3. Fear of experiencing incompetence when trying new things. The new agendas might require learning new skills or behaviors that seemdifficulttomaster. 4. Fearofbecomingsociallyisolated.Cooperatingwithnewagendas might require behaviors that valued colleagues would object to. For example, colleagues might accuse cooperative teachers of sellingoutorbreakingsolidaritybysuckinguptotheprincipal. 5. Fear of unpleasant surprises. New agendas might increase uncertaintyforpeoplewholikestabilityandpredictability. 6. Fear of more work. Complying with new agendas might require moreworkthanpeoplefeelinclinedtoundertake. Allsixfearsarefamiliartoanyoneexperiencedwithchangeefforts,especially in high schools. All of the featured schools dealt with such fears and, purposefullyornot,developedwaysofovercomingthem. TheFourTrustQuestions Leadershipteamsovercameresistancebyvirtueoftheirclearlystatedmotives concerningthegoalsofthework,theirgrowingcompetenceasorganizational andinstructionalleaders,theirunwaveringreliabilityinkeepingcommitments and their constant collegiality, even when dealing with tensions. These qualitiesreflectthefourtrustquestions.CanItrustthemto: 1. Havetherightmotivestocareabouttherightthings? 2. Becompetenttodeeplyunderstandkeyissues? 3. Bereliabletokeeptheirpromises? 4. Becollegialtotreatmeandotherswithrespect? Past research suggests that effective leaders develop reputations for being trustworthyontheseandrelateddimensions.23 EarnedAuthority Effectiveleadersinfeaturedschoolsalmostalwayshadsomeformofpositional authority,buttheyalsoearnedauthoritybyworkinghardinwaysthatteachers cametorespect.Forexample,leadersworkedwithcolleaguestorefineideas until they could articulate them clearly and with conviction; they sat through numerous meetings and dealt courageously with stressful situations when meetingswereconfrontational.Theywerenotnecessarilycharismatic,butby
23.Forexample,BrykandSchneider(2002).

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leveraging both their positional and earned authority, these teams of leaders (not just individuals) were able to place greater demands on colleagues and persuade people to sacrifice their attachments to the status quo and leave theircomfortzones.24 The centrality of moral conviction, courage, and earned authority in pressing colleagues for commitments to the workeven before these colleagues believed the work would succeedwas emphasized by each panelist in the wrapupsessionoftheconference.

MarianBrooksofCambridgeEducationemphasized,Therearesome
strandsofbeliefssomerealvaluesinherethatarecommontoallof thesepeopleweheard.Teachingisamoralproposition,that'swhatwe heardverystrongly.

James Connell of the Institute for Research and Reform in Education


pointed out that leadership teams used their influence to insist effectively upon broad participation. We heard about equity, that everybody'sgottoplay,heremarked.Alltheadultshavetoplay,not justsomeoftheadults.

RichardMurnaneoftheHarvardGraduateSchoolofEducationpointed
out that placing new demands on staff creates tensions, but that leadersatfeaturedschoolsdidnotshyaway.Theyhadawillingnessto have these difficult conversations, a term we heard again and again, andtodevelopthecapacitytohavetheminaconstructiveway.

KarinChenowethofTheEducationTrustpointedoutthatwhenleaders
are able to get others to act, broadly shared expectations of success are not necessary at the outset: Several schools talked about somethingveryprofoundthatyoudon'thavetostartwitheverybody believing that success is possible, you have to start with somebody believing it, but as the successes build, the beliefs will build that successesarepossible. Leaderswithearnedauthoritywereabletohelpcolleaguesovercome thesix fearsandparticipateeffectivelyinthechangeprocess.Whensomecolleagues resisted, the leaders were willing and able to initiate difficult conversations concerning nonnegotiables. These were foundations for effective implementationofprofessionallearning.
24.Ondistributedleadership,seeSpillane,Halverson,andDiamond(2001)and Spillane,Hallett,andDiamond(2003)

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IMPLEMENTATIONOFPROFESSIONALLEARNING

PreparingteachersandsupervisorsforimprovementatRandolphHighSchool hasinvolvedprofessionaldevelopmentfromexternalresourcesinadditionto ongoingactivitiesinsidetheschool.In2007,administratorscommittedtouse the Research for Better Teaching (RBT) model to train all teachers. Several of the featured schools (e.g., Brockton, Lynn English, Randolph, Amherst, and PaintBranch)usedtheRBTmodelforprofessionaldevelopmentatonetimeor another.Thismodelprovidedacommonlanguagefortalkingaboutinstruction and was especially helpful in fostering a focus on higher order thinking at RandolphHigh.25 Randolphsadministratorsandliteracycoachestookacompanioncoursefrom RBT that strengthened their skills at supervision and evaluation. The head literacy coach reports, The whole culture has changed: the principal has createdabuildingwherewetalkaboutteachingandlearning.Theprincipal also asked all teachers at Randolph High to read Understanding by Design in order to strengthen their approach to developing students thinking skills.26 Naperville used the same text to establish their approach to curriculum development: namely, that the students learn by struggling with interesting questionsthatmaynothaveclearanswers. All of the schools scheduled and managed professional development meetingsandcommonplanningactivitieswithadeterminationtomakethe most effective use of available time together. At Randolph High, the literacy coachandinstructionaldirectorscreateprofessionaldevelopmentagendasfor common planning meetings at the beginning of the year. Activities focus sometimes on examples of student work, sometimes on articles about instructional strategies, and sometimes on features of the curriculum. The agenda is moderately flexible in response to teachers preferences, but it is alwaysfocusedonimportantissuesinteachingandlearning. Inseveralofthefeaturedschools,teachersplayleadingrolesinthedesignand delivery of professional development. Indeed, teachers at schools such as TechBoston and Taft have become important players in the delivery of professional development to other schools in their systems. At Naperville,
25.Thistypeofexplicitattentiontoteachingthatis,pedagogyisnotnecessarilythe norminschoolsrespondingtocontemporaryaccountabilitypressures.Manychange theircontentcoverage,butlessoftenthewaysthattheydeliverinstruction.See,for example,Diamond(2007).SeeSaphieretal.(2008)formoreontheRBTapproachto teaching.Alsoseehttp://www.rbteach.com. 26.WigginsandMcTighe(1998).

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where teachers design the curriculum, teachers rebelled against professional development run by administrators. Now, administrators help to scaffold the meetings and monitor their effectiveness, but teachers take the implementationlead. The amount of professional development time at the featured schools is substantial,andallteachersareexpectedtoparticipate.Nevertheless,despite the time invested, the range of topics covered during any particular year is often quite narrow. The focus is deep, instead of wide. Professional learning topics from previous years are reviewed, and new teachers receive special orientations to help them catch up. The associate principal from Brockton pointed out the importance of continuing to monitor topics covered in previousyears.Thisinstructionshouldbeevidentinteacherslessonplans,in instructional practices, and in student work. She emphasized that what is monitored gets done, and what is not monitored is often neglected. Results frommonitoringareincorporatedintoteachersannualevaluations.
MAKINGTHEWORKVISIBLE

Another theme across all of the featured schools was that both student and teacher work are visible outside the classroom. A teacher from Lynn English saidofhisdepartmentchair,Thereisnothingthatshedoesntknowthatgoes oninherdepartment.Colleaguesroutinelyvisitoneanothersclassroomsand discuss their work. The department chair collects student work and provides feedbacktoteachersbasedonwhatsheobserves. One of the most dramatic examples of visibility occurred when the current principal arrived at Taft High School. He brought with him several teachers fromhispreviousschoolandsetthemupasaseparateteam,workingwitha distinct group of students. After their first year at Taft, their students had better attendance, higher standardized test scores, and fewer disciplinary problems than the students whose teachers had taught at Taft for years. Teachers from the other teams were discouraged and wanted to split the teams,especiallyafterlearningthattherewerefewifanydifferencesbetween thestudentsassignedtothedifferentteams.Insteadofsplittingtheteams,the principal chose to leave them as they were and to provide professional developmentsupportsfortheotherteams.Professionaldevelopmentoccurred weekly inhouse and emphasized differentiated instruction. As in the other featuredschools,allclassroomsatTaftareopenforcolleaguestovisitatany time.

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In addition to visiting one anothers classrooms, teachers learn by looking togetheratstudentwork.Instructionalleadersatoneofthefeaturedschools matchteachersinassignedpairs,sometimespairingateacherwhosestudents areproducinghighqualityworkwith onewhosestudentsare producinglow qualitywork.Thedifferencesarereadilyapparentwhentheteacherscompare theirstudentswork.Thereactionisoften,Howdidyougetyourstudentsto dothat?!Teachersarethenencouragedtocoachoneanotherabouthowto helptheirstudentsproducehigherqualitywork. Several of the schools also had common formative assessments in core subjects.27 For example, Brighton High School in Massachusetts engaged teachers in studying the results of common formative assessments taken by studentsindifferentclassrooms.WorkingwiththeBostonPlanforExcellence on ELA, teachers at Brighton High focused on two types of findingevidence skillsandfivetypesofmakinginferencesskills.Teachersfocusedonhowthese skillswereorwerenotreflectedintheirstudentswork.Instructionalleaders helpedteachersdrawoutimplicationsforchangesinclassroominstruction. Most of the featured schools talked about the growing pains associated with thiskindofvisibility.Ineachcase,thechallengewastomaketheprocessfeel safe. Teachers at Taft High School complained initially that the opendoor policy would not be safe for students. That concern was then addressed. At eachschool,teacherscametounderstandthatthepurposeofvisitingwasnot topointfingers,buttoshareideasaboutteachingandlearningandtobuilda professional,collegialstaff.Almostallofthefeaturedschoolsattheconference discussedwaysofpopularizingthisethic,andallofthemseemedtohavedone sosuccessfully. Anotherchallengethatalloftheschoolsseemtohavesurmountedisthatof finding time to conduct professional learning activities. Perhaps the most extreme solution is at Brockton High. Brockton has no professional development time allocated in the union contract, although two hours each month are set aside for teacher meetings. Instead of doing other school businessduringthesehours,theschoolusesthemtoconductitsprofessional learning activities. Like Brockton High, in one way or another all featured schoolsfoundtimeforteacherstolearn.

27.Acommonformativeassessmentisatestadministeredinmultipleclassroomsfor thepurposeoftrackingstudentprogress.Teacherscomparetheresultsfromdifferent classroomsandoftenusethemostsuccessfulclassasamodelfortheothers.

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EVALUATINGTEACHING

Featured schools took teacher evaluation seriously as part of professional learning.InNaperville,theevaluationprocessbeginswithameetingbetween evaluators and an individual teacher. In this meeting, they discuss goals designed to support the teachers professional growth. Before evaluators observetheteacherintheclassroom,thereisapreconferencetodiscusshow the teacher might modify his or her instructional practice to better focus on the needs of particular students. Next, instructional leaders observe the teacher for a full 50minute class period. After the observation, the teacher completes a selfreflection. The evaluators and teacher then hold a post conference to discuss the teachers practice, with the teacher doing much of thetalkinginresponsetoevaluatorsquestions. Atmostoftheschools,administratorsalignbothformalandinformalteacher evaluations according to instructional priorities. Administrators, department chairs, coaches, and teacher leaders cultivate norms of support geared to reduce colleagues fear of appearing vulnerable or of being humiliated. The associateprincipalatBrocktonHighrecountedtwoparticularlyhelpfulphrases. Help me understand... is useful when someone is not performing in a satisfactorymannerorisresistingaparticularrequest.Letmehelpyou...is helpful in dealing with someone who argues that a request is too difficult or beyondtheircapacity. Sometimes administrators or teachers fail to comply with a schools quality standardsorpriorities,evenafteranextendedperiodofassistance.Whenthis happens, leaders in exemplary schools communicate to people that their performance is unacceptable and counsel them to seek employment elsewhere. Supervisors who hold these difficult conversations report using phrasessuchas,YouandIbothknowthatthisschoolisnottheplaceforyou. However,beforereachingtheconclusionthatateachershouldgo,supervisors develop instructional improvement plans as needed, based on student work and classroom observations. To ensure consistency, some schools require a senior administrator to review all teacher evaluations written by department chairsorotherinstructionalsupervisors.Basedonevaluations,whichfollowa standard rubric, senior administrators may provide differentiated support not onlyforteachers,butalsofordepartmentsanddepartmentchairs,according totheirneeds.

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Based on reports from the featured schools, an implied set of prescriptions emergedforeffectivelyimplementingprofessionallearning.Thesewere: ForEffectiveManagementandAccountability:

Cultivate a leadership group of administrators, department chairs,


coaches, teacher leaders, and others who are responsive to other stakeholders but nonetheless uphold a set of nonnegotiables concerning the schools goals and fundamental approach to improvement.

Individual members of the leadership group need to earn their


authority in order to overcome the six fears that often motivate resistancebyotherstakeholders.Thismeansworkinghard,standingup to challenges, and making appropriate sacrifices so that people come totrusttheirmotives,competence,reliability,andcollegiality.

The leadership group should press to enlist the whole faculty in


professional learning, respectfully but resolutely confronting any resistancetoparticipation.

Senioradministratorsshouldmonitorhowdepartmentchairssupervise
teachers,includinglookingatgradedstudentworkanddiscussingthe feedback that department chairs give to teachers and that teachers givetostudents.

Hold department chairs responsible for ensuring that schoollevel


prioritiesforeffectiveinstructionaretailoredtofitindividualsubjects. ForTeacherSupport:

Instructionalleadersshouldtakecaretostreamlineandclarifyideasso
thatteacherswillknowhowtoapply themand supervisorswillknow whattomonitor.

Supervisors and instructional leaders should solicit regular feedback


from teachers to refine activities and cultivate a climate of respectful responsiveness.

Use books and articles and look together at student work to engage
teachers. Always seek to draw and apply lessons purposefully for instruction.

Conduct most adult learning in small groups to enhance


personalization. In large schools, this requires detailed planning, developmentofscripts,andtrainthetraineractivitiestopreparesmall groupstodelivertrainingswithfidelity. 30|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Deliver professional development in a planned sequence of learning


experiences for teachers, with narrowly targeted themes for each schoolyear.

Assign department chairs, instructional coaches, and resource


specialists to assist teachers who encounter difficulties. Enable and encourageteacherstoseekadvicefrompeers,watchpeersteach,and generallysupporteachothersprofessionalgrowth.

C ONCLUSION
TheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversityselectedtheschoolsthat this report features based on their exemplary achievements on standardized exams.Mosthaddiversestudentbodies.FortheeightMassachusettsschools inparticular,allareschoolswhosestudentsatanygivenachievementlevelon the8thgradeMCASwouldlearnmorebytheendof10thgradethanatmost other high schools in the state. This is true not only for students who were 10thgraders in spring 2008the cohort whose performance led to the conference invitationbut also for the next cohort of students, who were 10thgraders in spring 2009. The AGI selected schools from outside of Massachusettsinresponsetorecommendationsfromexpertcolleagues.These recommendations were based upon a combination of outstanding achievement, as measured by test scores, and outstanding leadership, as judgedbythereferrants. Groups of leaders at these schools worked to earn the authority that they needed in order to lead. They cultivated trust. Their sacrifices of time and energy helped establish their motives. Their efforts to learn and their willingnesstoimplementwhattheylearnedestablishedtheircompetence.The care they took to follow through on their commitments established their reliability.Andtherespectfulwaysthattheywentaboutworkingwithothers, evenwhileholdingtheircolleaguesaccountable,establishedtheirreputations forcollegiality. Itseemstousthatbybeingmorallycredible,intellectuallycompetent,reliable, and collegial, groups of leaders were able, in time, to help many of their colleaguesovercomethesixfears.Thesefearsareoftenthebasisofresistance to change. They concern the fear of wasting time, losing autonomy, experiencing incompetence, becoming socially isolated, dealing with uncertainty,andbeingaskedtoworkharder.

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Presenters indicated that the most effective way of overcoming the six fears was through demonstrated success. At the beginning of the change process, adults at featured schools were obliged to cooperate for change even before they believed that success would be the result. No doubt the six fears were activelyfelt.Nonetheless,coregroupsofleadersusedtheirpositionalauthority and their personal influence to engage colleagues in professional learning activities.Therewereconfrontations,andtherewerecourageousconversations. Some people lost their jobs, but not many. Presenters were reluctant to describe such confrontations in public at the conference and so they do not appearinthisreport.However,theydidoccur. The biggest breakthroughs in reduced resistance came with seeingis believing experiences. For example, breakthroughs came when a teacher would see students from anothers class producing highquality work and ask, How did you do that?! Or when statelevel test results were unexpectedly good, as they were following the first serious year of writingacrossthe curriculum at Brockton High School. That year the state commissioner of educationcalledtosaythattheirELAscoreshadimprovedtoagreaterdegree than at any other high school in Massachusetts. Administrators report that resistance melted away and progress continued. Ultimately, trust and success winheartsandminds.Butitisthesenseofresponsibilityamongasmallgroup of leaders, their hard work and their determination not to be put off by resistance, that builds the trust and wins the initial successes. Accepting responsibilityiswhereitstarts. Alloftheschoolsfeaturedinthisreportremainworksinprocess.Thereportis based on presentations by school leaders, not impartial observers, and their successesarerelativelyrecent.Therefore,theimpliedprescriptionsthatwelist are suggestive, not definitive. Nevertheless, based on the schools measured achievements, we are confident that they are worthy of our attention, admiration,andcontinuingstudy.

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A PPENDIX : P RESCRIPTIONS I MPLIED BY THE W ORK OF F EATURED S CHOOLS


I.R E S P O N SI B IL IT Y T O L E A D TH E C HA NG E P R O C E S S Asmallcoreofcurrentorpotentialleadersshoulddecidetogetherthat
changeisnecessary.Theyshouldacceptresponsibility(thoughnotsole responsibility)formakingithappen.

Members of the leadership group should agree upon a set of non


negotiable ideas and goals around which they will be united as they engageothers.

II.M I S SI O N S TA TE M EN T S A ND F O CU S ED P RI O RI TI E S Leadershipgroupsshouldengageotherstakeholdersincraftingmission
statementsandarticulatingpriorities.

Missionstatementsshouldemphasizebigpictureoutcomesofstudent
learningthe major skills the schools will teach more effectively, the qualitiesstudentswilldevelopasaconsequenceoftheseskills,orthe rolesforwhichbetterskillsandqualitieswillpreparestudents.

As they engage other stakeholders, leadership groups should make it


clear that improving curriculum and instruction is a nonnegotiable elementoftheschoolsstrategytoimproveacademicoutcomes.

III.S T R A T E G I E S A N D P LA N S FO R H I GH Q U A L I TY A DU LT L EA R NI NG Set learning goals and professional development plans for teachers
withthesamecareandqualityasthebestteachersusetosetlearning goalsfortheirstudents.

Pursuealimitednumberofadultlearningprioritiesatanygiventime. Providegenuineopportunitiesforinputfromadministrators,teachers,
andotherinterestedstakeholders.

Maintainandmonitoraformalcalendarofspecificdatesandtimesfor
meetingsandforcompletingimportanttasks.

Formalize responsibility for the intellectual work that supports


professionallearning,includinganalyzingandreportingdataforusein strategic deliberations (for example, establish a data team of administrators and teachers with clearly defined duties and dates for reporting).

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IV.C L EA R A ND U S A B LE C RI TE R IA FO R J U DG IN G Q U A L ITY W O RK Define rubrics for judging instructional practice, for use in teacher
evaluationandprofessionaldevelopment.

Develop rubrics for judging student work, for use in lesson planning,
grading, feedback from teachers to students, and feedback from supervisorstoteachers.

Periodically review and revise the rubrics to correct weaknesses


identifiedbymonitoringstudentworkandinstructionalpractices.

V.S K I L LFU L A N D R ELE N TL E S S I M P L E M EN TA TI O N


ForEffectiveManagementandAccountability:

Cultivate a leadership group of administrators, department chairs,


coaches, teacher leaders, and others who are responsive to other stakeholders but nonetheless uphold a set of nonnegotiables concerning the schools goals and fundamental approach to improvement.

Individual members of the leadership group need to earn their


authority in order to overcome the six fears that often motivate resistancebyotherstakeholders.Thismeansworkinghard,standingup to challenges, and making appropriate sacrifices so that people come totrusttheirmotives,competence,reliability,andcollegiality.

The leadership group should press to enlist the whole faculty in


professional learning, respectfully but resolutely confronting any resistancetoparticipation.

Senioradministratorsshouldmonitorhowdepartmentchairssupervise
teachers,includinglookingatgradedstudentworkanddiscussingthe feedback that department chairs give to teachers and that teachers givetostudents.

Hold department chairs responsible for ensuring that schoollevel


prioritiesforeffectiveinstructionaretailoredtofitindividualsubjects. ForTeacherSupport:

Instructionalleadersshouldtakecaretostreamlineandclarifyideasso
thatteacherswillknowhowtoapply themand supervisorswillknow whattomonitor.

Supervisors and instructional leaders should solicit regular feedback


from teachers to refine activities and cultivate a climate of respectful responsiveness. 34|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Use books and articles and look together at student work to engage
teachers. Always seek to draw and apply lessons purposefully for instruction.

Conduct most adult learning in small groups to enhance


personalization. In large schools, this requires detailed planning, developmentofscripts,andtrainthetraineractivitiestopreparesmall groupstodelivertrainingswithfidelity.

Deliver professional development in a planned sequence of learning


experiences for teachers, with narrowly targeted themes for each schoolyear.

Assign department chairs, instructional coaches, and resource


specialists to assist teachers who encounter difficulties. Enable and encourageteacherstoseekadvicefrompeers,watchpeersteach,and generallysupporteachothersprofessionalgrowth.

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R EFERENCES
Braun,H.,N.Chudowsky,andJ.Koenig,eds.GettingValueOutofValueAdded: Report of a Workshop. Committee on ValueAdded Methodology for Instructional Improvement, Program Evaluation, and Accountability. Washington,DC:NationalAcademiesPress,2010. Bryk, A. S., and B. Schneider. Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement.NewYork:RussellSageFoundation,2002. Bryk, A. S., P. B. Sebring, E. Allensworth, S. Luppescu, and J. Q. Easton. Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago: UniversityofChicagoPress,2010. City, E. A., R. F. Elmore, S. E. Fiarman, and L. Teitel. Instructional Rounds in Education.Cambridge,MA:HarvardEducationPress,2009. Cuban,L.HowTeachersTaught:ConstancyandChangeinAmericanClassrooms 18901980.NewYork:Longman,1984. Danielson,C.,D.Axtell,P.Bevan,B.Cleland,C.McKay,E.Phillips,andK.Wright. Implementing the Framework for Teaching in Enhancing Professional Practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development,2010. Diamond,J.B.WheretheRubberMeetstheRoad:RethinkingtheConnection Between HighStakes Testing Policy and Classroom Instruction. SociologyofEducation80(2007):285313. Elmore, R. F. School Reform from the Inside Out: Policy, Practice and Performance.Cambridge,MA:HarvardEducationPress,2007. Evans, P. M. A Principals Dilemmas: Theory and Reality of School Redesign. PhiDeltaKappan84,no.6(2003):424437. Garet, M. S., A. C. Porter, L. Desimone, B. F. Birman, and K. S. Yoon. What Makes Professional Development Effective? Results from a National SampleofTeachers.AmericanEducationalResearchJournal38,no.4 (2001):915945. Heifetz, R., and M. Linsky. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the DangersofLeading.Boston,MA:HarvardBusinessSchoolPress,2002.

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Kegan,R.,andL.L.Lahey.ImmunitytoChange:HowtoOvercomeitandUnlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization. Boston, MA: Harvard BusinessPress,2009. Koretz,D.MeasuringUp:WhatEducationalTestingReallyTellsUs.Cambridge, MA:HarvardEducationPress,2008. Kotter,J.P.LeadingChange.Boston,MA:HarvardBusinessSchoolPress,1996. Kotter, J.P. Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. In Harvard Business Review on Change, 120. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business SchoolPress,1998. Leithwood,K.,andD.Jantzi.AReviewofTransformationalSchoolLeadership Research19962005.LeadershipandPolicyinSchools4,no.3(2005): 177199. Payne, C. M. So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in UrbanSchools.Cambridge,MA:HarvardEducationPress,2008. Robinson, V.M.J., C. A. Lloyd, and K. J. Rowe. The Impact of Leadership on StudentOutcomes:AnAnalysisoftheDifferentialEffectsofLeadership Types.EducationalAdministrationQuarterly44,no.5(2008):635674. Saphier,J.,M.A.HaleySpeca,andR.Gower.TheSkillfulTeacher:BuildingYour TeachingSkills.6thed.Acton,MA:ResearchforBetterTeaching,2008. Senge, P. M. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.NewYork:Doubleday,1990. Spillane, J. P., T. Hallett, and J. B. Diamond. Forms of Capital and the Construction of Leadership: Instructional Leadership in Urban ElementarySchools.SociologyofEducation76,no.1(2003):117. Spillane,J.P.,R.Halverson,andJ.B.Diamond.InvestigatingSchoolLeadership Practice: A Distributed Perspective. Educational Researcher 30, no. 3 (2001):2328. Wiggins,G.,andJ.McTighe.UnderstandingbyDesign.Exp.2nded.Alexandria, VA:AssociationforSupervisionandCurriculumDevelopment,2005. Note: An extensive list of related readings is posted with this report at http://www.agi.harvard.edu.

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2.
CASESTUDY: ROBERTA.TAFT INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY HIGHSCHOOL CINCINNATI,OH

R OBERT A.T AFT I NFORMATION T ECHNOLOGY H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
AnthonySmith,Principal MichaelTurner,Manager,SeniorInstitute

HIGHPERFORMING TEAMSSUPPORTED BYSTRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JonSaphier,ResearchforBetterTeaching RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit2.1 RacialComposition Poverty StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

Taft

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Other

%Free Lunch 68.4% 40.2%

2.9% Ohio(all grades) 75.5%

95.6% 16.3%

0.0% 2.7%

0.0% 1.6%

1.5% 3.9%

NumberofStudentsatTaft:506
Source:OhioDepartmentofEducation,InteractiveLocalReportCard (http://ilrc.ode.state.oh.us/).

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


When Mr. Smith first arrived at Taft High School in 2000, it was one of the lowestperforming high schools in Ohio, with a graduation rate of 18 percent and test scores behind the state average. By 2008, after the school had restructuredtofocusoninformationtechnology,thegraduationratehadgrown to90percent,andstudentshadmadedramaticgainsinachievement. The average scores of Taft students on the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) now surpass the statewide average in math, reading, and science. And this is not becauseTaftscreensprospectivestudents:Taftreliesonalottery,unlikemost comprehensivetechnologyschoolsacrossthecountry.Thestudentpopulation atTaftis95percentblackstudents,andover68percentqualifyforfreelunch. And yet, in spite of a higher poverty rate than the district, Taft is beating the stateaverage.Thetrendsfrom2005to2009inmath,reading,andsciencefor studentsinOhioandstudentsattendingTaftSchoolareshowninExhibit2.2. Exhibit2.2 StudentProficiencyRates

Source:OhioDepartmentofEducation,InteractiveLocalReportCard (http://ilrc.ode.state.oh.us/).

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K EY I NITIATIVES
Taft is divided into a Preparatory Academy for 9th and 10thgrade students, andaSeniorInstitutefor11thand12thgradestudents.PreparatoryAcademy studentslearnabout17differentareasofinformationtechnologyandgainthe opportunity to make informed decisions about areas of focus in the Senior Institute,whileSeniorInstitutestudentsspecializeinmanyareasoftechnology. Several key initiatives have helped the school close the achievement gap, including: 1. Inhouse,teacherledprofessionaldevelopment 2. Key partnerships, such as a partnership with Cincinnati Bell, the largesttelecommunicationsproviderinthecity 3. Acomprehensivesafetynetprogramforstudents 4. Higherparentalengagement

P ROFESSIONAL D EVELOPMENT T HROUGH E MPOWERMENT


Taftputsteachersin chargeofmuchofits professional development,andthat makesitapowerful institutionoflearning. Taftputsteachersinchargeofmuchofitsprofessionaldevelopment,andthat makesitapowerfulinstitutionoflearning.Thisempowermentistheproductof theinitiativesandactivitiesthatTafthasbeenusingtohelpbuildacultureof trustandcommitmentamongstaffandadministration.

I M P ROV I NG I N ST RU CT IO N W I TH H I GH P E R FO R M I N G T EA M S
WhenMr.SmithbecameprincipalofTaft,hebroughtwithhimacoregroupof teachers from the middle school, including his colleague, Mr. Turner, now managerofTaftsSeniorInstitute. Because the teachers who Mr. Smith and Mr. Turner brought with them were outstandingeducators,thetwoleadersaskedthoseteacherstomodelateam approach to teaching. After the first year at Taft, the students of high performingteamshadbetterattendance,higherstandardizedtestscores,and neededlessdisciplinethanthestudentsofotherteams.Becausetheyfeltthat competitionwastoostiff,longstandingTaftteachersbecameverydiscouraged andwantedtosplitthemodelteamacrosstheotherteams. Tocounterthisopposition,Mr.SmithandMr.Turneruseddatatoshowthose teachers that they had not preselected the students that the model team taught.Thedatashowedthatstudentsineveryteamhadsimilar8thgradetest

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scores, and their success was solely from strategic instruction, which every teachercouldlearntoimplement.
D E V E LO P I N G A P E R FO RM A N C E T H E M E : FA I LU R E I S N OT A N O P T I O N

Mr. Smith and Mr. Turner decided that rather than removing lesseffective teachers,theywouldhelpthembecomebetterteachers.Onopeningdayofthe second year, Mr. Smith asked teachers: Aren't you tired of teaching at the lowestperforming school in the state? And they replied, Yeah, sure we are tiredofteachingatthelowestperformingschoolinthestate.Inresponse,Mr. Smithsaid,Okay,it'stimeforlunch,andanyonewhodoesnotwanttobepart ofwhoweare,don'treturnafterlunchI'llfindnewteachers. They were very excited when all the teachers did return. The notion that the teachers were the worst group in the worst school in Cincinnati had become ingrained.Tohelpthestaffmoveforward,Mr.SmithadoptedFailureisnotan optionasamotto.Thissloganisnowontheschoolwebsite,becauseMr.Smith believesthatallTaftstudentsneedtounderstandthatfailureisnotanoption whentheysetfootintheschool.
T H E O P EN D O O R PO LIC Y

Mr.Smithalsobelievesthatonereasonforpoorperformanceinthepastwas thatteachershadbeenworkinginisolation,behindcloseddoors.Heaskedall teachers to teach with doors open. Mr. Saphier noted that Tafts opendoor policy suggests that the principal wants teachers to walk into each other's classrooms. He asked Mr. Smith how he convinced teachers to support that policy. Mr. Smith noted that he wanted teachers to observe other people teaching. Longstanding Taft teachers had been very curious about the team from the middleschool,buthadneverseenthoseteacherspresentparticularlessons.So hecameupwiththeideathatallclassroomswouldbeopen.Atfirstteachers talked about the need to ensure the safety of the students, but after he addressedthatconcern,theyhadnoreasontoteachinisolation. Mr.Saphier notedthatthere'sa bigbridge to crossbetweencreatinga policy and having people actually start visiting each others classrooms. Mr. Smith concurred: the opendoor policy started slowly and encountered some resistance. For example, some teachers asked their union, Can they really make us do this? But Mr. Turner was the union rep for the building, so the policywasanobrainer. 42|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Theprincipalalso extendedtheteam approachtothewhole school:teamsof teachersnowmeet everydayfor45 minutes. Theprincipalalsoextendedtheteamapproachtothewholeschool:teamsof teachersnowmeeteverydayfor45minutes.Instructionalleadersusedthose teamstorollouttheopendoorapproach,saying,Thisistheinitiative,thisis whatwearegoingtodowejustneedeverybodytotrytoembraceit. Mr. Saphier noted that Mr. Smith had also made other highprofile decisions, such as having the school embrace writing across the curriculum. Mr. Saphier couldimagineaphysicsteachercominguptotheprincipalandsaying,That's good for some people, but, look, I'm a scientist, I'm a physics teacher, take it somewhereelse. AccordingtoMr.Turner,whenMr.Smithhasanideathathebelievesisbestfor the school, 99 percent of the time he asks a teacher rather than an administrator to present it to the staff. That goes a long way in overcoming resistance, especially because most of the staff is involved in districtlevel initiatives: that teacher has credibility in the district as a whole. Students presentideas,too,sothatapproachfiltersdowntothem. Administratorsdoconductalotofinformalclassroomwalkthroughs,askingto see lesson plans and instructional standards posted on the walls. If a teacher has to search for a lesson plan in a box under a table, then Mr. Smith knows that'saproblem.Andthenwhathappens?askedMr.Ferguson.Accordingto Mr.Turner,Mr.Smithwouldthenasktheteacher,Whereisyourlessonplan, andwhydon'tyouhaveit?ThenexttimeIcome,Iwouldreallyliketoseeit.
W R I T I N G A N D L IT E R AC Y AC RO S S T H E CU R R IC U LU M

WhenMr.Smithhasan ideathathebelievesis bestfortheschool,99 percentofthetimehe asksateacherrather thananadministrator topresentittothe staff.

Mr. Ferguson asked how Taft produced a massive jump in reading and math skills in one year. Mr. Turner replied that, if anything precipitated the turning point in Tafts journey, it was Daniels and Zemelmans Subjects Matter.28 This book taught teachers how to incorporate writing and literacy across the curriculum. The staff began to understand that literacy is not just about what happensduring45or50minutesintheEnglishclassroom. Mr.SmithandMr.Turneralsoshowedthefacultythatmorethanhalfthepoints on state tests stem from questions requiring short answers and extended responses,ratherthanmultiplechoice.Thisrealizationalsoforcedteachersto embraceliteracyacrossthecurriculum.

28.SubjectsMatterisateachersguidetocontentareareading,publishedin2004by Heinemann.

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All classrooms have implemented several specific strategies from Subjects Matter. One is the fourcolumn method, which has students ask about each question on a test: What do I know? What am I being asked? What is the answer?Ourfourthcolumnis:Howdoesmyanswerconnecttootherideas?
B O O K ST U DI E S

The books that the staff has studied include Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's GuidetoContentAreaReading,byHarveyDanielsandStevenZemelman;How to Differentiate Instruction in MixedAbility Classrooms,29 by Carol Ann Tomlinson;What'sWorthFightingForOutThere,30byMichaelFullan;Goodto Great,31byJimCollins;andCommunity:TheStructureofBelonging,32byPeter Block. Mr. Ferguson asked whether teachers volunteer to participate in the book study, or whether it is required. According to Mr. Smith, teachers know when they sign on the dotted line that they will have to participate in book studies andotherprofessionaldevelopment.Theprincipalstartsoutleadingthebook studysessions,andthenturnsthemovertoteachers,whointroduceeachnew book and provide reference materials. The teachers then try to replicate the ideastheyreadaboutintheclassroom. Mr. Saphier asked how leaders keep the conversation going after teachers presentanapproachbutbeforetheschooldeclaresitapolicy.AccordingtoMr. Turner, the leader of a book session might say, Let's all implement one idea fromchapterone,andsharewhathappenedwhenwereconvenenextweek. When 90 percent of teachers are sharing experiences, the other 10 percent realizethat,I'dbetterhavesomethingtosharenexttime.

Theleaderofabook sessionmightsay, Let'sallimplement oneideafromchapter one,andsharewhat happenedwhenwe reconvenenextweek.

T H E I MP O RTA NC E O F S H A RI NG I DEAS A N D E X P E R I EN CES


The district requires each schools instructional leadership teama union negotiatedcommitteetomeetwiththeprincipalonceamonth.AtTaft,that

29.HowtoDifferentiateInstructioninMixedAbilityClassrooms,byCarolAnn Tomlinson,publishedbyAssociationforSupervision&CurriculumDevelopment(April 2001). 30.What'sWorthFightingForOutThere,byMichaelFullan,publishedbyTeachers CollegePress(March1998). 31.GoodtoGreat,byJimCollins,publishedbyHarperBusiness(October2001). 32.Community:TheStructureofBelonging,byPeterBlock,publishedbyBerrettKoehler Publishers(September2009).

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teammeetsonceaweek.Teacherleadersontheteamfeelcomfortablesaying, Thisteacheronmyteamisstruggling,herearetheissues.Whattheteachers sayintheroomstaysintheroom,butatleasteveryoneknowswhichteachers arehavingadifficulttimeandcanassistaccordingly. Taftwasoneofthefirstschoolsinthedistricttotrainteachersindifferentiated instruction.Theschoolprovidedthetraininginhouse,andtheweeklymeetings allowed teachers to talk about how the approach was working in their classrooms.Underpreviousadministrators,Taftteacherstookalotoftripsfor professional development. Those trips petered out after the principal began requiringfacultymemberstopresentwhattheylearnedtotherestofthestaff. However,teachersarenowagainstartingtotakesuchtrips,tobringbackfresh ideasabouthowtoengageyoungpeopleintheclassroom.WhenMr.Smithand Mr. Turner arrived at Taft, very few teachers, if any, were involved in district level initiatives. Today, 35 of 43 onsite teachers help lead professional developmentactivitiesforthedistrict.
T H E CO M M I T M E NT O F T EAC H ERS

Theteammeetsoncea week.Teacherleaders ontheteamfeel comfortablesaying, Thisteacheronmy teamisstruggling,here aretheissues.

Mr.Fergusonaskediftheschoolwouldhaveasmuchsuccessifadministrators were dealing with an aggressive teachers union and facing the possibility of classaction suits. The school does have one of the strongest American FederationofTeacherslocalsinthecountry,Mr.Turnersaid,andMr.Smithhas had grievancesfiledagainsthimthat happensineveryschoolin thedistrict. However,Taftteachershavebuyinandtrustthatwhattheschoolisdoingisfor thebettermentofthestudentsandtheschool.Mr.Turnernotedthatteachers atsomeschoolsinthedistrictwillnotworkoneminutewithoutbeingpaid.At Taft, every faculty member recently committed to two hours of blackboard trainingafterschool,andnotonepersonaskedaboutbeingpaid. Taft also has teacher buyin because many children of the faculty attend the school,eventhoughtheycouldgotoanyschoolinthedistrict,Mr.Smithsaid. Mr. Smith himself is a Taft graduate, as is his son, and Mr. Turners daughter currently attends the school. So the school has developed buyin on what it meanstobeeducated.Fortunately,thestaffhasremainedessentiallythesame asitwassevenoreightyearsago,Mr.Turnersaid.Theonlyteacherstheschool haslosthaveretiredormovedoutoftheareabecauseoflifechanges.

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F ORGING K EY P ARTNERSHIPS
Taft was also able to establish an important partnership with Cincinnati Bell. WhenMr.Smithmetthepresidentofthatcompanyonhisfirstdayonthejob, thepresidentasked,Whatdoyoureallywantthisschoolto looklike? After some lengthy conversations, the company decided to invest a lot of time, energy,andmoneyinTaft.

I N CE N T I V E P RO G RA M S
Forexample,studentswhomaintaina3.3GPAforanentireyearreceiveafree cellphonewithunlimiteduseandalaptopcomputer,andCincinnatiBellcomes to their homes and installs freehighspeed Internetaccess. If a students GPA drops,theagreementisthattheprincipalgoestothestudentshouseandpicks upthosematerials.However,ineightyearsMr.Smithhasnothadtodothat.

T U TO R I N G P RO G RA M S
Cincinnati Bell also provides 70 to 80 tutors, who give up part of a workday everyweektocometoTaftandtutorstudentsinexactlywhattheyneedtopass the OGT. Although Taft teachers do not teach to the tests, they are held accountable for student performance on them, so that's where tutors concentratetheirefforts.Notutorhasmissedatutoringsessioninsevenyears. Norhasfailuretopassthetestspreventedanystudentfromgraduatinginthe lastthreeorfouryears.

I N T E R N SH I P S
Mr.MurnaneaskedwhetherTaftalsooffersinternshipstostudents.Mr.Smith respondedthatTaftwantstoensurethatthebusinesscommunityunderstands theschoolsstudents,andviceversa.SoCincinnatiBelldoesofferinternshipsto 20 students each summer, each of whom earns about $5,000. The company alsoprovides$20,000scholarshipsto10topseniors.

N E W N ET WO RKS
The partnership with Cincinnati Bell has enabled Taft to draw in other companies. For example, HewlettPackard (HP) employees recently talked to seniors in four weekly sessions about topics such as: What is a career with a purpose?Whatisitliketoworkoutintheworld?Whatarebusinessethics?

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JuniorAchievementprovidedfreetrainingtotheHPemployeesonhowtogive thepresentations.Thatprogramprovidedagreatopportunityfortheadultsto connectwithTaftstudents,andtheschoolisplanningtoexpanditnextyear.

AC OMPREHENSIVE S AFETY N ET FOR S TUDENTS


AtTaft,teacherscreateanindividualizedinstructionplanforeverystudent.The schoolalsohasacomprehensivesafetynetthatcatchesstudentsimmediately whentheysufferanytypeofsetback. Mr. Ferguson asked about the process for notifying students when the school identifiesanacademicdeficiency.Whoisinvolvedinthatconversation?AllTaft students are assigned to a teacher team, those teachers have a real pulse of what's going on with each student, Mr. Turner responded. In August or September, the principal asks teachers to identify students who may have behavioral or instructional challenges, and either the principal or the team meets with those students early in the year. And as soon as a student fails a test, the team immediately puts him or her into an intervention program to addressthatdeficiency. Because of that program, some kids are at school from 8:00 in the morning (schoolstartsat8:45)to7:00or8:00atnight,gettingcaughtupwithteachers. TheprogramwhichiscalledFifthQuarter,andincludessummerschoolhas helpedgetTaftsgraduationrateupto90percent.

Assoonasastudent failsatest,theteam immediatelyputshim orherintoan interventionprogram toaddressthe deficiency.

M ORE P RODUCTIVE P ARENT C ONFERENCES


Early on, a key challenge at Taft was the lack of parental involvement. Open housesdrew20parentsatbest.Andatparentconferences,facultyhammered students, focusing on what they were doing wrong. When school leaders realized that neither parents nor students were attending those conferences, they investigated best practices. Research suggested that conferences can engage parents if students present a portfolio of their work, including a capstone project. That approach allows teachers to have an open dialogue with both parents and students, and encourages everyone to consider, What amIdoingright,whatamIdoingwrong,andwhatdoIneedtoimproveon? Today, students lead parentteacher conferences. This model has created a morepositiveatmosphereandhelpedincreaseparentalinvolvementacrossthe school.CincinnatiBellwascrucialinthatendeavor,too:thecompanypaidfor raffleitemsearlyon,toattractparentstosuchevents.

Conferencescan engageparentsif studentspresenta portfoliooftheir work,includinga capstoneproject.

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3.
CASESTUDY: BRIGHTONHIGH SCHOOL BRIGHTON,MA

B RIGHTON H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
JoyceCampbell,AssistantHeadmaster,formerChair, EnglishLanguageArts KarenCoyleAylward,TeacherLeader

ACULTUREOFTRUST TOIMPROVE TEACHERPRACTICE

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JonSaphier,ResearchforBetterTeaching RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit3.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Asian Other %Free Lunch 78.6% 32.9% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

Brighton MA(all

5.0% 69.1%

38.0% 8.2%

52.7% 14.8%

3.3% 5.3%

1.0% 2.6%

NumberofStudentsatBrighton:1,208
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


BrightonHighSchoolislocatedin the cityofBoston. Itservesastudentbody thatfacesmanychallenges.Over90percentoftheschoolsstudentsareblack orHispanicandalmost80percentqualifyforfreelunch. Brighton High School draws incoming students from as many as 16 middle schoolsacrossthecity.TeachersandinstructionalleadersrelyonaComposite Learning Index to target students who need help on the Massachusetts ComprehensiveAssessmentSystem(MCAS)exam,whichstudentsmustpassto receive a high school diploma. To support this work, the school relies on professional learning communities and a collaborative coaching and learning modeltofosteraclimateoftrustamongitsstaff. Based on average scores on the MCAS, Exhibit 3.2 shows the percentage of Brightons 10thgraders in 2008 who were in each quintile of the states 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) distribution in Massachusetts two years earlier, in 2006. It shows that over 70 percent scored in the bottom two quintilesas8thgraders,withalmosthalf(45%)inthebottomquintile. Exhibit3.2 8thGradeELADistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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Exhibit3.3showsthatwhengainsfrom8thgradeto10thgradearecompared with other high schools in the state, Brighton ranks highperforming better than 80 percent of other schools in the state when gains are adjusted for studentsbackgrounds.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit3.3shownumbersthatare unadjusted for background characteristics; the dark grey bars show numbers that are adjusted. (Background characteristics include race, gender, free and reducedlunchstatus,limited Englishproficiencystatus,8thgradeattendance, andage.) Exhibit3.3 8thto10thGradeELAGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.Thelabel n.a.indicatesthattherewerenotenoughstudentsinthesampletoensureareliable calculation.

T ARGETING T HE B UBBLE
In200708,undertheBostonPlanforExcellence(BPE),33whichhelpsschools restructure, BPE consultants used a Composite Learning Index (CPI) to assess BrightonHighSchoolsincoming9thgradeclass,saidassistantheadmasterMs. Campbell. The CPI includes 16 indicators on every childfrom test scores, attendance, suspensions, repeated grades, and special ed status to the languagespokenathome.Thehigherthescore,themorechallengesfacingthe childasalearner.
33.FormoreinformationontheBostonPlanforExcellence(BPE), alocaleducation fundandnonprofit,visithttp://www.bpe.org/.

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Although administrators were thrilled to have that information, they werent quitesurewhattodowithit,saidMs.Campbell.Sotheydecidedtotargetthe neediest25 percentofstudents,basedonthestudentsCPIscore.Duringthe firsthalfoftheyear,staffmemberstrieddifferentinitiativesaimedatboosting achievementamongthatgroup. However, reality quickly hit. Ms. CoyleAylward explained: When we tried to matchinstructionalchangestostudentswhohadverybadattendance,wewere feelingveryfrustratedbecauseitwasn'tmakingadifference.Sowehadtofind other strategies to work with kids at the very bottom percentage who had attendanceissues. Consequently,administratorsdecidedtoshifttointerveningwithstudentson thebubblethoseinthe3049percentrangeoftheCPI.TheBPEconsultants helped administrators analyze data on those students and plan initiatives for them.Forexample,asidefromusingthecommonmidtermandfinalexamsthat are written by the teachers themselves, school staff also used Formative Assessments of Student Thinking in Reading (FASTR), developed by BPE, to determinewhichstudentshadagoodchanceofpassingtheMCASexam.Staff membersthendividedthosestudentsintothreeSmallLearningCommunities34 (SLCs), and planned instruction for them. Their teachers also agreed to tutor thosestudentsafterschoolforanhourandahalfonMondays,Tuesdays,and Thursdays. When teachers also experienced attendance problems with these students, administrators decided that the tutoring sessions were so important that the school would treat them like a job. Students began to receive a stipendan hourly wageto attend the sessions: their parttime job was to do better on theMCAS.Theresultswereastoundingthatgroupreallymadegoodprogress, saidMs.Campbell.

R ESPONSIVE I NSTRUCTION
To develop classroom and afterschool instruction for these students, BPE consultants used FASTR to break down the skills required to answer the multiplechoicequestionsontheELAsectionoftheMCAS.TheBPEconsultants divided those questions into two skillsfinding evidence, and making inferencesandthenbrokedownthosetwogroupsfurther,intotwotypesof
34.SmallLearningCommunities(SLCs)subdividelargeschoolpopulationsintosmaller, autonomousgroupsofstudentsandteachers.Eachcommunitywilloftensharethe sameteachersandstudentmembersfromgradetograde.

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findingevidenceskills,andfivetypesofmakinginferenceskillsasillustratedin thediagrambelow. Exhibit3.4 SevenTypesofThinkingSkills

Seventypesofthinking skillsgiveinstructional leadersandteachersa commonlanguage.

Source:BasedonBrightonspresentationtotheAGIconference

These seven types of thinking skills gave instructional leaders and teachers a common language. That, in turn, enabled teachers to tailor class discussions andtestquestionstothespecificskillsstudentswerestrugglingwith,saidMs. CoyleAylward. The targeted students took FASTR tests every few weeks, and she and the instructional coach looked at the resulting data, tracking which questions students were doing well on and which they were not. The leaders then met with teachers to replan instruction to address the needs of the targetedstudents. As instructional leaders went through this process, they definitely used data, but they also listened to teachers, explained Ms. Campbell. For example, teachers could add students to the list of those receiving the intervention. Although that meant that teachers ended up teaching more students than instructional leaders had expected, teachers involvement in the selection processwasimportant,becausetheyknewtheirstudentsneeds. Teachers also helped devise teaching strategies to address the needs of these students, and helped assess the results, said Ms. CoyleAylward. The teachers felt very accountable for helping students improve: they knew students were countingonthemtopassthisgraduationrequirement. 2009AGIConferenceReport 53|P a g e

Teacherstailorclass discussionsandtest questionstothe specificskills studentsare strugglingwith.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
BrightonHighSchoolalsohasaveryeffectiveinstructionalleadershipteam,and many teachers on that team participated in this project, she said. All worked together to adjust the approach to instruction to ensure that students responded. In fact, administrators and teachers were so pleased with the success of the approach thatthey tooka little too muchfor granted, said Ms. CoyleAylward. During the second year the staff used the same approach, but found that students again did not want to attend the tutoring sessions, so administrators putalotofeffortintocallinghomestoexplaintheinitiativetoparents. Headmaster Toby Romer also called students who were not attending tutoring sessions into his office as a group, and asked them why. He then brought in studentswhohadreceivedtheinterventionandpassedtheMCAStheprevious year to talk to the students, and that was very effective in raising attendance, accordingtoMs.CoyleAylward. Guidancecounselorshavealsoplayedacriticalroleinhelpingteachersmotivate students to attend the tutoring sessions, Ms. Campbell noted. Even now, counselorsremindstudentsattheendoftheschooldaytoattendthetutoring sessions.ThisispartofalargerplanthecounselorsinitiatedcalledPathwayto Success, under which counselors share responsibility for students and work with other staff members in SLCs to address the needs of kids who are not achieving. Afterawhile,theworkofinstructionalleadershipbecamepartofamuchlarger initiative. Ms. CoyleAylward explained how one of the major things the staff learned was that if students are already three to four years behind when they arrive atBrighton, teachers do not have enough hours in the day to overcome thosedeficiencies.SotheschoolbroadeneditsMCASinterventionthisyear:it added an afterschool E block to the daily A, B, C, D block schedule to allow seniorstoretakecoursestheyhadfailed.

Acultureinwhich teachersfeel comfortablesharing challengesand strategizingonhowto overcomethemhas developedovertime.

D EVELOPING A C ULTURE OF T RUST


Acultureinwhichteachersfeelcomfortablesharingchallengesandstrategizing onhowtoovercomethesechallengeshasdevelopedovertime,accordingtoMs. CoyleAylward. For example, for at least the 10 years during which she has taught at Brighton, the school has held case management sessions where teachersstrategizeaboutparticularstudentsandfeelcomfortablesharingtheir struggles in the classroom. Professional development during departmental

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meetings focuses on best practices, and teachers can talk about their experiences at these meetings, too. This process of talking about challenges hasfosteredacultureoftrust,shesaid. The school established true professional learning communities four years ago, when it used funding from the Gates Foundation to form SLCs, said Ms. Campbell. That initiativealong with support from the schools instructional coach,andprofessionaldevelopmentduringdepartmentalmeetingsenabled administratorstoengageteachersinpresentingtoeachotherandbeingeven more open about their experiences. It became okay for teachers to fail when theytriedsomethingnew,shesaid.Ifateachertriedarecommendedapproach toinstructionanditdidn'twork,everyonewouldattempttofindoutwhy. Karen, you've been at the school for 10 years, is that right? And how about you,Joyce,howlonghaveyoubeenthere?Mr.Saphierasked.Justabout30 years,Ms.Campbellreplied. Karen,yousaidthatBrightonisaplacewhereit'sokaytofail,saidMr.Saphier. Youaretalkingabouttheadultculture:ifImateacher,andItrysomethingout anditdoesn'twork,Icanbevulnerableinfrontofmypeersandletthemknow. Wasitlikethatwhenyoujoinedthefaculty10yearsago? As a firstyear teacher a decade ago, Ms. CoyleAylward said she did not feel pressure to hide her failures or vulnerabilities. Teachers are very open to sharing during case management meetings and departmental bestpractices sessions, and they also collaborate informally. However, the teamwork and feelingoftrusthavestrengthenedovertheyears,shenoted. Mr.SaphierrespondedthathehadtoturnthequestionovertoMs.Campbell, because that kind of environment does not build itself. Who did what along theway?Howdidthat[environment]grow? BostonPublicSchoolslaunchedaschoolrestructuringinitiativeabout14years ago, said Ms. Campbell. When Brighton High School started to restructure, some faculty members began kicking and screaming. However, many realized thattheyhadbeenworkinginisolation. Because they serve a challenging population, the Boston Teachers Union contract calls for additional hours of professional development, she said. The schoolisunderpressuretousethattimewisely,andteachershelpeddesignthe useofthattime.Theadministrationneedsteachersinput,andrelyingonthem tohelpplanprofessionaldevelopmenthelpedenormouslyincreatingaculture

Whentheschool startedtorestructure, manyfacultyrealized thattheyhadbeen workinginisolation.

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oftrust.Theschoolhasalsobenefitedfromhavinggoodheadmastersaswell asanextremelysuccessfulinstructionalcoachprogram,Ms.Campbellnoted. Mr.Fergusonaskedtheteamtotalkmoreaboutwhatexactlytheinstructional coachdoes,andwithwhom.AccordingtoMs.CoyleAylward,theinstructional coachusesacollaborativecoachingandlearningmodel,whichmeansthatshe works with teachers in small study groups. Each group chooses a focus and examinesstudentwork,and members observeeachotherteach duringeight weekcycles.Theinstructionalcoachhasalsotrainedteacherleaderstoconduct theirownstudygroups,sothatapproachhasspreadsignificantly. Mr.Fergusonalsoaskedhowimportantfocusisindevelopingsuchacultureof success. SLCs and the schools challenging population have taught staff members to focus on each child, said Ms. Campbell. Before making any decision,theyaskthemselves,Isthisgoingtohelpthisstudent?Isthisgoing tohelpourschool?Andwegofromthere.

Eachstudygroup choosesafocusand examinesstudent work.Teachersobserve eachotherteach duringeightweek cycles.

D ISTRICT S UPPORT
Mr. Ferguson asked how the district has supported and even enabled their work.GatesFoundationfundinghasbeencriticaltotheBostonPublicSchools, Ms. Campbell responded. Each of the schools three SLCs received about $36,000andhadsignificantautonomyinspendingthosefunds.TheSLCswere free to use the funds to pay for the initiatives they devised, although the expenditures had to reflect annual goals set by the superintendent. For example, the SLCs used some of the funds to give stipends to teachers who provideafterschooltutoring. However,theschoolnolongerreceivesGatesfunding,andthatisasignificant loss, given that in January every school in Boston had to cut its budget by 15 percent, Ms. Campbell said. Brighton High School has losttwo administrative positionsand10teachingpositions,andfranklywe'reprettyscaredabouthow we will maintain the progress we have made. But while Gates funding was important, Ms. Campbell maintains that it was the district that enabled the schooltomoveforward.

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4.
CASESTUDY: BROCKTONHIGH SCHOOL BROCKTON,MA

B ROCKTON H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
MariaLeFort,AssociatePrincipalforCurriculumandInstruction CaryCopp,ArtCoordinator,K12 Jennifer Morgan, Instructional Resource Specialist and Teacher Coach, Science Department MikeThomas,Housemaster,AsherBuilding NicoleMcClaren,InstructionalResourceSpecialist,EnglishDepartment

ASCHOOLWIDE FOCUSONLITERACY

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JonSaphier,ResearchforBetterTeaching RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit4.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 69.4% 32.9% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Brockton MA(all

27.3% 69.1%

56.2% 8.2%

11.7% 14.8%

2.3% 5.3%

2.5% 2.6%

NumberofStudentsatBrockton:4,029
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


AlmosttwothirdsofBrocktons10thgradestudentsareblackorHispanicand 64 percent qualify for free or reducedprice meals. Still, these students outperformmostotherschoolsinthestatewithregardtothegainsthatthey achieve from 8th to 10th grade on the English Language Arts (ELA) section of theMassachusettsComprehensiveAssessmentSystem(MCAS). Based on average scores on the MCAS, Exhibit 4.2 shows the percentage of Brocktons10thgradersin2008whowereineachquintileofthe8thgradeELA distributioninMassachusettstwoyearsearlier,in2006.Itshowsthatover50 percentscoredinthebottomtwoquintilesas8thgraders. Exhibit4.2 8thGradeELADistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

Nonetheless,asshowninExhibit4.3,whenBrocktonsgainsfrom8thgradeto 10thgradearecomparedtothoseofotherhighschoolsinthestate,theschool ranks above the 90th percentileperforming better than 90 percent of other schoolsin4outof5quintiles.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit4.3shownumbers that are unadjusted for background characteristics; the dark grey bars show numbers that are adjusted. In either case, Brockton outperforms most other schools. (Background characteristics include race, gender, free and reduced lunchstatus,limitedEnglishproficiencystatus,8thgradeattendance,andage.) 58|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Exhibit4.3 8thto10thGradeELAGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

F OUR K EY L EADERSHIP G ROUPS


Nearly a decade ago a few teachers and administrators started work on an ambitious schoolwide literacy initiative and enlisted every teacher in every departmentasparticipants.Theschoolreliesonfourkeygroups(describedin Exhibit 4.4 below) to spearhead its literacy initiative and to choose and implementits annual focus, Ms. LeFort, associate principal for curriculum and instruction,shared. Exhibit4.4 FourKeyLeadershipGroups
Thinktankthatmeetsonceamonthandiscomprisedof administrators,teachers,andguidancecounselorswho representeachdepartment. Comprisedoftheprincipal,associateprincipal,department heads,housemasters,andassistanthousemasters. Smallgroupthatanalyzesdatatoinformtheschool's ongoingwork.

RestructuringCommittee

AdministrativeLeadershipTeam

DataAnalysisTeam

CurriculumSteeringCommittees Committeesineachdepartmentthataddresscurriculum.

Source:BasedonBrocktonspresentationtotheAGIConference

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Thefirstkeyleadershipgroupistherestructuringcommittee,whichconsistsof amixedgroupofadministratorsandteachersrepresentingeachdepartmentin theschool.Therestructuringcommitteeservesastheschoolsthinktank,said Ms. LeFort. Composed of about 30 administrators and teachers representing everydepartment,thecommitteemeetsonceamonthonSaturdaymornings. Members do a lot of talking: everything is on the table, and they solve problems. The restructuring committee formed about 10 years ago, according toMs.Copp. Thesecondgroup,theadministrativeleadershipteam,consistsofdepartment heads,housemasters,assistanthousemasters,andtheprincipal,alongwithMs. LeFortherself.Asmallerdataanalysisteam,whichMs.LeFortheads,performs veryfinegrainedanalysis ofallthetestsstudentstake. Thatteam,alongwith instructional leaders, brings the resulting information to the other groups for discussion. A steering committee in each department addresses curriculum. Some staff members serve on all four committees, while others serve on just one.

P ATH TO S UCCESS :T HE L ITERACY I NITIATIVE


Theschoolwide focusisonereason whytheschoolhas accomplishedmore thanmanyother schools. BrocktonHighSchooldevelopeditsliteracyinitiativeaftertakingahardlookat thedataandwheretheschoolwasgoing.Afewmembersofthestaffrealized that Brockton needed a wholeschool effort, and thought a literacy initiative would provide that, said Ms. Copp, K12 art coordinator. Mr. Ferguson asked howimportantaschoolwidefocusistoacultureofsuccess.Theschoolwide focus has really helped Brockton Ms. LeFort replied. Its one reason why the schoolhasaccomplishedmorethanmanyotherschools. The schools restructuring committee was the driving force behind this initiative. A group of teachers and administrators got together and asked one bigquestion:Whataretheskillswewantourstudentstohavebythetimethey leaveBrocktonHighSchool?

F O U R C O RE L EA RN IN G S K IL LS
With input from students and members of the community, the committee identified four core learning skills: reading, writing, speaking, and reasoning. The committee focused on those skillswhich the school calls its core learningbecausecommunitymemberstoldthecommitteeloudlyandclearly thatifstudentshadthoseskills,theywouldbewellpreparedforcollegeorthe worldofwork. 60|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Exhibit4.5 FourAreasofIdentifiedSkills

Therestructuring committeeidentifiedfour corelearningskills: reading,writing, speaking,andreasoning tofocuson.

Source:BasedonBrocktonspresentationtotheAGIconference

Thecommitteedecidedthatthebestapproachwastomakethecorelearning anintegralpartoftheentirecurriculum(asillustratedinExhibit4.5above),and to ask all teachers to implement reading, writing, speaking, and reasoning within their own content areas, Ms. Copp said. Everyone from physical education teachers to art teachers to guidance counselors focuses on helping studentsdeveloptheseskills.
L I T E R AC Y CH A RT S I N EV ERY CLAS SRO O M

The school posted 16x20 literacy charts in every classroom outlining the core elementsof eachskill.Forexample, thereadingchartinExhibit4.6listseight elements that students need to master within that overall skill. The writing chartstipulatesthatstudentsshouldbeableto compareand contrast,and to knowhowtotakenotes,amongotherelements. AccordingtoMs.Copp,teachersmightsay:Oh,yeah,mystudentsknowhow totakenotes.Butthechartremindsthemtoconsider:Dothestudentsreally knowhowtotakenotes?Cantheydemonstratetotheteacherthattheyknow howtotakenotes?Effectivenotes?Thespeakingchartmightaskstudentsinan artclasstobeabletoexplainwhytheylikeapieceofart,sheexplained. 2009AGIConferenceReport 61|P a g e

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Exhibit4.6 ExamplesofLiteracyCharts

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Brocktonfocuseson oneortwoelements ofacorelearningskill eachyear,anddevotes everyprofessional developmentsession tothoseelements.


Source:FromBrocktonspresentationtotheAGIconference
FO C U S O N O P E N RE S PO N SE

Brocktonfocusesononeortwoelementsofacorelearningskilleachyear,and devoteseveryprofessionaldevelopmentsessiontothoseelements,Ms.Copp said. The schools first big pushwhere they got the biggest bang for their buckwas in writing. The school tried to zero in on a skill every faculty membercouldworkoninhisorherclassroom. The MCAS for 10thgraders includes an openresponse section. The restructuring committee decided that teachers would emphasize that elementwhich involves writing to a promptin all grades and all content areas.Sotheschooltrainedallitsteachershowtoteachopenresponse.The school also gave students activereading strategies (shown in Exhibit 4.7) for understanding and assessing openresponse questions, so they knew exactly what we expected of them, according to Ms. Morgan, instructional resource specialistandteachercoachintheScienceDepartment. In every classroom, for example, teachers would say: I want you to actively readthishandout.WhatamIaskingyoutodo?Showmeevidencethatyou are following the strategies that you see here. The school was tenacious in implementingthisstrategy,Ms.Morgansaid.Theassociateprincipalcreateda calendar that specified when teachers in every content area would give assignments emphasizing the focal aspect of writing. School staff members usedeverymomentwithkidsasalearningopportunity.

Theassociateprincipal createdacalendarthat specifiedwhenteachers ineverycontentarea wouldgiveassignments emphasizingthefocal aspectofwriting.

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Exhibit4.7 ActiveReadingStrategies

Source:FromBrocktonspresentationtotheAGIConference

You'llsee[readingandwriting]inyourformalevaluation,youllseeitinyour informal evaluations, Mr. Thomas attested. The department also made sure that literacyrelated work focused on class content. For example, the gymnasiumshaveheartratemonitors,soopenresponsequestionsinphysical educationfocusedonheartratesandphysicalfitness. Inoneyear,studentsfailurerateontheELAportionoftheMCASdroppedfrom 44percentto23percent,andthefailureratehassincedroppedto5percent. Whenteacherssawthosepowerfulresults,therewasbuyinforimplementing thenextroundoftheliteracyinitiative,accordingtoMs.Morgan.

R EACHING B EYOND THE MCAS


Mr. Murnane asked, If I were a beginning high school principal in Massachusettswithastudentpopulationthatdidnotdowellinthe8thgrade,I wouldwonderifmyschooladoptsabroadliteracyinitiativelikeBrocktons,will ourMCASscoresbeokay?

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Ms.LeFortrespondedthatschoolleaderslookatMCASdataverycarefully,and base professional development on that information, because they realize that those tests do measure skills students need. However, the schools literacy charts also include speaking, which MCAS does not test. Overall, the school triestofocusontheskillsstudentsneedtobesuccessfulafterhighschool,she said. Mr. Murnanenotedthatintalkingto teachersaboutNoChildLeftBehind, he hasheardtimeandagainthatthere'stoomuchdrillandkilltoomuchfocus on test preparationand that that means the country is not educating our children well. Brockton seems to have a much more nuanced view of how to usehighstakestests,heobserved.Thosetestsclearlyplayaroleininstruction, butthestaffusesthemtosupportmasteryofskillsandinformationthatmatter. ThewholeapproachgoesbeyondsimplypassingtheMCAS.Brocktonbelieves thatthewayforstudentstomastercoreskillsisaskthemtodemonstratethem in every subject, said Ms. Copp. That approach is not about the MCAS. However,itwillhelpstudentsdowellonthosetests.

F OSTERING S TUDENT E NGAGEMENT


With a focus on standardized testing, education can become drudgery, Mr. Ferguson noted. He asked how schools can foster student engagement given highstakestesting. OnethingBrocktonhasdonewelliniskeepingthehighschoolcomprehensive, said Ms. Copp. Brocktons principal, Susan Szachowicz long ago decided the school would not address students deficiencies by asking them to take two math or two English classes a day. She wanted to give kids what they need throughoutallcontentareas. Many of Brocktons kids don't come to school for math or physics, said Ms. Copp: they come because of their relationship to sports, fine arts, or drama. The school has found that it needs to keep kids invested in the subjects they really liked: these are the hook. Staff members engage students by enabling themtotakethesubjectsandparticipateintheactivitiestheylike,ratherthan pushingthemtowardthosetheydon'tlike. The school also emphasizes personalization, according to Mr. Thomas. With 4,500students,staffmemberscantalkaboutimprovingacademicachievement, buttheymustensurethateachstudentfeelsconnectedtotheschoolandthe adultsinit.Mr.ThomasattendedBrocktonwhenithadalmost6,000students,

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andnoonereallyknewindividualstudentstheyfelttheywereanumber.You can'toverestimatetheimportanceofpersonalization,hesaid. According to Ms. LeFort, Our kids now never talk about passing MCAS, they talk about being proficient. And it is an amazing conversation when you overhearkidssayingIscoredproficient,Ididreallywell.Soit'sawholemind shiftofnotonlytheteachersbutalsoofthestudents.

T HE P ROFESSIONAL D EVELOPMENT M ODEL


Mr. Saphier observed that Brockton has shown that good professional developmentcanbetopdownandbottomupatthesametime.Theschoolhas alsoshownthatwhenstudentsimproveatnonfictionwriting,thatgeneralizes toeveryothersubject:theygetbetteratmathandscience.Itmakessense,if youconsiderthethinkingskillsandselforganizationrequiredtodononfiction writing,saidMr.Saphier. Ms. McClaren explained that the restructuring committee chooses one focus, suchasopenresponse,eachyear,althoughitmighthavedifferentfacets.That element is then taken through a formal process leading to effective instructional practices, as shown in Exhibit 4.8. School leaders use scripts, workshops, and department meetings to talk about that element. However, leaders do continue to emphasize elements that the school focused on in previousyears.Ifleadersstopaskingteacherstoincludethoseelementsintheir lesson plans, and stop asking for samples of student work that reflect those elements, teachers will stop talking about them. What gets monitored gets done,Ms.McClarensaid. The data analysis team and restructuring committee first identify an area of weakness, and instructional leaders then develop a workshop to address that weakness. To ensure that teachers across the entire school receive the same message, theleadersactuallycreatea scriptforeachworkshop. Brocktonhas no contractual inservice time for professional development, so the school needed to getcreativein trainingteachersaboutliteracyinstruction,saidMs. Morgan. Rather than devoting two onehour contractual faculty meetings to announcements and other routine business, the school uses this time for interdisciplinaryprofessionaldevelopmentworkshops. 66|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Thedataanalysisteam andrestructuring committeefirstidentify anareaofweakness, andinstructional leadersthendevelopa workshoptoaddressit.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
Exhibit4.8 AdoptingEffectiveInstructionalPractices

Source:BasedonBrocktonspresentationtotheAGIconference

Instructionalleaders alwaysfollowup: whateverthey monitorgetsdone, andwhateverthey dontmonitor doesn't.

The instructional leaders then train the trainers: the teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators who will teach the actual interdisciplinary workshops. Leaders conduct the workshops again for new teachers eachyear, so everyone is trained in the same techniques, said Ms. McClaren, an instructionalresourcespecialistintheEnglishDepartment. Afterhearingaboutanelementsuchasopenresponseintheinterdisciplinary workshops,teacherslearnhowtoapplythatelementintheirspecificsubjectat departmental workshops, according to Ms. Morgan. The associate principal thendevelopsthecalendarforimplementingtheelement:thisdepartmentwill workonopenresponseonthisday,orduringthisweek. Instructional leaders always follow up and monitor teachers use of the techniquestheylearn,becauseleadersknowthatwhatevertheymonitorgets done,andwhatevertheydontmonitordoesn'tgetdone,saidMs.Morgan.The schoolalsousesinterdisciplinarysmallgroupdiscussionstoaskfacultyleaders howthingsaregoing,andwhereteachersneedmoresupport.

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Ms LeFort explained It really is about changing attitudes, and the change comesafterthesuccess.Whenweholdmeetingsnowandweshowdata,we talktoourteachersandteacherssaywereallycoulddothis.Thecultureofthe school has changed dramatically and it is a belief that every student can and mustlearnandourresponsibilityistofigureouthow.Wearealwayslookingin themirror.
A R E SP O N S I V E F E ED BAC K LO O P

AfterBrocktonintroducedactivereadingstrategiesacrosstheschool,according to Ms. Morgan, instructional leaders brought the document with those strategiesbacktotherestructuringcommitteeandasked,Whatisitmissing? How can we revise it? The committee felt that it needed more language to helpstudentsandteachersapplyitmoreeffectivelyinsubjects suchasmath, science,andhistory.Sothecommitteereviseditandpresenteditagaintothe staffwiththenewinformation,shesaid. Faculty members in each department use common assessments. The school developedanassessmentrubricforouropenresponses.Weareintheprocess ofdevelopingoneforscienceandmathopenresponsesbecausewe'vedecided theyaredifferent,saidMs.Morgan.

F OCUSING T EACHER E VALUATION ON I NSTRUCTION


Part of Brocktons success entailed changing both its formal and informal teacher evaluation system, said Mr. Thomas, housemaster for the Asher Building. To do so, the school relied heavily on Jon Saphier's The Skillful Teacher35course,whichadministratorstookin2003. Housemastersanddepartmentheadsnowusethesamecriteriatoevaluateall 300 teachers across the school. And those criteria are no longer about classroommanagementhowfastateachergetskidsoutsideduringfiredrills. They now focus on instruction, according to Mr. Thomas. The school now providesinhousetraininginusingthissystemtoallnewadministrators. Thedepartmentheadscollectsamplesofstudentsopenresponsesfromeach teacher, read the responses, and give feedback to each teacher, said Ms. Morgan.Theassociateprincipalsimilarlycollectssamplesofstudentworkfrom

35.ResearchforBetterTeaching(RBT)isaschoolimprovementorganizationfounded byDr.JonSaphierin1979.Formoreinformation,pleasevisit http://www.rbteach.com.

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the department heads, reads them, and gives feedback to the department headsasillustratedinExhibit4.9below. Exhibit4.9 OpenResponseFeedbackLoop

Source:BasedonBrocktonspresentationtotheAGIconference

Brockton gives all its students access to the same curriculum, and expects themwithoutexceptiontomastertheskillsentailedintheliteracyinitiative, Ms. LeFort said. However, the school does provide a safety net and interventions for struggling students, includingspecial education students and Englishlanguagelearners.

M O NI TO RI N G E FF E CTI V E N E S S
Mr. Ferguson asked what data school leaders use to monitor the literacy initiative, and how they use that information. According to Ms. Copp, leaders usually obtain data by looking at student work and having interdisciplinary discussions.Aftertheschoolimplementsanykindofinstructionalapproach,the leaders solicit feedback from teachers through either departmental or interdisciplinarymeetingsabouthowtheapproachisgoingandwhatneedsto change. Aperfectexampleistherevisiontotheopenresponserubric,shesaid.When the school first implemented open response, the restructuring committee devisedwhatitthoughtwasagreatrubricforteacherstousetoassessstudent writing.Andatfirstthatrubricseemedtowork.However,leadersrealizedafter 2009AGIConferenceReport 69|P a g e

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talkingtofacultymembersandlookingatstudentsworkthattherubricreally wasn't helping students become proficient in writing, Ms. Copp said. So the restructuring committee revised the rubric and reintroduced it to the faculty throughanotherprofessionaldevelopmentseries. Mr.Fergusonsuggested that,in many schools,teachersdonot expectanyone to ever ask what they do after professional developmentno one knows whetherateacherevertriedtoapplytheprofessionaldevelopmentlessons.He asked the Brockton team to confirm that they actually follow up most of the time and ask teachers how an instructional approach is going. We always followup,Ms.LeFortresponded.

C LO SE S U P E RV I S IO N
According to Ms. McClaren, the English Department has 45 teachers, so they breakintogroupsofsevenoreighttotalkaboutwhatworkedandwhatdidn't. Ifteachersarenotgettingwhattheywantfromtheirstudents,theyknowthey havetoasktheircolleaguesforhelp. Lookingatstudent workiscriticalto understanding what'sgoingonin aschool. Department chairs are also closely supervised. Mr. Saphier asked how often school leaders collect student work from every department, and what they collect.Lookingatstudentworkiscriticaltounderstandingwhatisgoingonina school,saidMs.LeFort.WhenBrocktonimplementsaschoolwideapproachto teachingsuchasopenresponse,shecreatesacalendarofimplementationthat says,Physed,youaregoingtoincludethatapproachinyourlessonplansthis week. So department heads can walk into any class that week and collect studentworkthatreflectsthatfocus. Ms. LeFort asks each department head, in turn, to create a calendar showing whenheorshewillcollectvarioustypesofstudentworkwhetherhomework, tests,orprojects.Ms.LeFortalwaysasksforarangeofstudentwork:excellent, mediocre,andpoor.Thedepartmentheadsshowherthecalendar,theycollect thework,andtheyhaveaconversationaboutwhattheyhavecollected.They talk about educational rubrics, grading, and teacher feedback, and then they givethatfeedbacktotheteachers. Whogivesthefeedbacktotheteachers?askedMr.Saphier.Thedepartment heads,Ms.LeFortresponded.Andyousitwitheachdepartmentheadgoing overtheinformationthatneedstobefedback?heasked.

Eachdepartment headcreatesa calendarshowing whenheorshewill collectvarious typesofstudent work.

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Ms.LeFortsaysshemightaskadepartmenthead,Whatobservationsdoyou have about this work? The department head will tell her, Well, so and so's teaching is really goodI would love to see that approach throughout the department. Then Ms. LeFort might ask, What was good about it? Maybe thatteachercanshareaparticulartoolwithotherteachers. Or she might look at student work that the art coordinator brings her and observe, You have to provide more feedback to your faculty. The art coordinator would then take the conversation back to teachers and talk more specifically about teaching strategies. The feedback Ms. LeFort gives to department heads varies depending on the assignment and the department. Somedepartmentsarestrongerthanothers,shesaid. Letmejustunderlinethis,Mr.Saphiersaid.Supervisionofdepartmentchairs happens at Brockton High School in a fairly close way, and department chairs aresupervisedbyhavingthembringtheworkthattheirteachersareproducing to the head of curriculum and instruction. That person sometimes coaches a departmentchair,andsometimesendorseshisorherinsightsintowhat'sgood orwhatisn't,andtalksabouthowheorshewillfollowup.Ms.LeFortagreed. ThenMr.Saphiernotedthatinsomecities,regionalsuperintendentscouldplay that role, working with principals. But at a large high school, the department chairs are the key lever for reaching teachers. Without question, Ms. LeFort responded. Nobody works in isolation in our schoolit's just too big. And I havetosaythatwithoutthedepartmentchairs,Icouldn'tdomyjob.

Supervisionhappensin afairlycloseway;the departmentchairs bringworkthattheir teachersproduceto theheadofcurriculum andinstruction.

B UILDING A C ULTURE OF T RUST


Mr.SaphierobservedthattheculturechangeatBrocktonHighSchoolrequired developing trust between administrators and teachers. That is an aspect of school culture about which people have tacit knowledgethey know more thantheycansay.InTheFiveDysfunctionsofaTeam,PatrickLensionidefines trust simply as the confidence that no one on someones team will humiliate himorheritissafetobevulnerable.36 The stories that Brockton presenters told attested to that attribute, and this typeof trust isthefoundationfor mostschoolsthatimprovequickly,saidMr. Saphier.

36.PatrickLensioni,2002.TheFiveDysfunctionsofaTeam.JosseyBass.

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L AU N CH I N G T HE R E ST RU C TU RI NG CO M M IT TEE

Mr.SaphieraskedMs.LeForttospeakmoreabouttherestructuringcommittee andhowithashelpedtospearheadtheculturechangeatBrockton.WasSusan Szachowicz on that committee? Ms. Szachowicz, the current principal, was a leader, Ms. LeFort confirmed. Ms. Szachowicz was then head of the Social Science Department, and she and Paul Laurino, then head of the English Department, cochaired the group. The rest of the school did not regard the committeefavorably,accordingtoMs.LeFort:Ms.Szachowicz andMr.Laurino basicallybeggedtheirfriendstobeonitand15to20peoplejoined. Ms. LeFort said that the restructuring committee grew out of the schools responsetotheeducationreformlawpassedbytheMassachusettsLegislature in 1993. Initially, the principal created a committee to revise the schools schedule to increase instructional time in accordance with the laws requirements. Later, around the year 2000, the committee was renamed the RestructuringCommitteeandputinchargeofreformingtheschoolsapproach toinstruction.Themainimpetuswastheimpendingrequirementthatstudents wouldhavetopasstheMCASinordertograduate. The committee became empowered over time as hard work raised student achievement, Ms. LeFort said. Today the committee is much more popular. Some 80 people apply to join the restructuring committee every year, and committee members must choose among them. The committee adheres to a basic rule during meetings: no griping. Everyone comes to the table constructively, and no one denigrates any ideas. Members consider them politely,openly,andpositively,saidMs.LeFort. ThereislittledoubtthatSueSzachowiczandPaulLaurinowerethemaindriving forcesinthetransformation.Nowthat'sastoryoftwodepartmentchairswho, intheend,transformedtheschool,saidMr.Saphier.Mr.Laurinojustretired maybe two years ago, and Sue became associate principal and really moved [restructuring]forward.Meanwhilethepersonwhowastheprincipalthrough the initial period just let it happen. The principal empowered some people almostbyaccidentbecausehewasn'tveryinterested,Ms.LeFortconcurred. Socommitteemembersduringtheinitialperiodacknowledgedthattheyhada problem,hadtorespond,andwouldnotstopworkinguntiltheysucceeded,Mr. Saphier observed. The Restructuring Committee then created the literacy initiative,andtheinternalstaffdevelopmentprocessrequiredtotrainteachers to implement that initiative. It was a slow process, but it was also relentless. Yeah,wearerelentless,wearethat,Ms.LeFortagreed. 72|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Thisisastoryof twodepartment chairswho,inthe end,transformed theschool.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY

D E F I N I N G I N ST RU CT IO NA L N O N N E GOT IA BLE S
The school then used Mr. Saphiers teacher evaluation course to define instructional nonnegotiables, he noted. That gave everyone who provides feedbacktoteacherstheopportunitytobuildcourageandconvictionaroundthe core learning the school wanted to stress. Giving a leadership group extended timetogethertodevelopnonnegotiablesisanimportantpartofthiswork,said Mr.Saphier. Yes,weallspeakthesamelanguage,agreedMs.LeFort.Teachersknowthat housemasters and department heads will address literacy during their evaluations. I read every evaluation that's done at the school, and there is a consistencythereandthereistheexpectationthattherearecertainthingsthat willbedoneinclassrooms. AndwhenIseethatateacherisnotdoingthem,Icallinthedepartmenthead,I call in the housemaster, or they come to me first and say, You know, we're havinganissuewithsoandso,andthentheywillactuallyforwardmeacopyof theevaluationbeforetheyactuallygiveittotheteacher,sothatwecanallbeon thesamepagewithitandhaveaconversationaboutwhatwearegoingtodo.

Givingaleadership groupextended timetogetherto developnon negotiablesisan importantpartof thework.

P ROV I D I NG T EACH E RS W I TH S U PP O RT S
Theschoolsapproachtoevaluationisactuallyextremelysupportive,shesaid:it is about encouraging people, it is about putting supports in place. And administratorsdocreateinstructionalimprovementplansforindividualteachers. Of course, administrators sometimes get to the point where they say to a teacher,Youknowwhat,BrocktonHighisnottheplaceforyou,acknowledged Ms.LeFort. Administrators sometimesgettothe pointwheretheysay toateacher,You knowwhat,Brockton Highisnottheplace foryou. Whenever the school rolls out a core element or teaching technique, leaders provide an incredible amount of support for the entire faculty on how to implementthenewelement,accordingtoMs.Morgan.Allteachersaretrained, and if they encounter a problem, they call an instructional resource specialist. Thatspecialisthelpsmaketheapproachmoreviableintheteachersclassroom, Ms.Morgansaid. If that does not work, teachers can then consult department heads or housemasters. Teachers jump through a million hoops before everyone concludesthattheyarenotworkingout,shesaid.

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Theschoolalsosupportsteachersbydevelopingcommonassessments,saidMs. Copp.Bothteachersandstudentsknowwhatagoodopenresponseessaylooks likebecauseinstructionalleadersaretellingthemandprovidingexamples.

O V E RCO M I N G R E S I STA N CE
WhenMr.ThomasfirstcametoBrocktonHighSchoolfromajuniorhighschool eight years agowhen the school first began teaching literacy skills across curriculumhebecamedepartmentheadofphysicaleducation.Itwasalotof fun getting the physical education teachers to teach writing and reading, he said.Forexample,thefootballcoachwhowasagreatguywithmorethan500 wins,themostinMassachusettswasn'tbigonteachingreadingandwritingin thegymnasium. Mr.Thomashadtoworkthroughsuchbarrierstomakereadingandwritingpart ofthedepartmentsculture.Itwasabattle,andalotoftheconversationswere notfun,andmadeyourstomachturn.Butyoujusthadtoplowaheadbecause youknewitwasgoodforthekidsandnotfortheconvenienceoftheteachers. The department secured teacher buyin when test scores rose, he said. Today physical education teachers do not even question the schools approach. They say,Okay,weareinthegym,butwhatelsedoweneedtoworkon? Mr. Fergusonasked Mr.Thomastogivean exampleofa conversation thatwas not fun. What kinds of things did people say to one another during those conversations? According to Mr. Thomas, a gym teacher would say, You are asking me to grade an openresponse writingassignment.How will I do that? Thephysicaleducationteacherswerenervous. However, Mr. Thomas said, We always focused it on the kids. I would say, Listen, you went to school for four years. You're a physical education teacher, but a lot of the classes you took were premed. You wouldn't be here if you couldn't read and write, so you should be able to give a student a writing assignment,getthatbackandgradeit,ifyougetthepropertraining.Andonce theyheardthattheyweregoingtogetassistancefromtheEnglishDepartment or from the Math Department for whatever initiative we were doing, that relieved their apprehension. Sometimes, the teachers would still say, Its the gym,it'sphysed,weshouldn'thavetoteachwriting.Andwhatwouldyoutell them?Mr.Fergusonasked.IfyouwanttoworkatBrocktonHigh,it'syourjob, repliedMr.Thomas.

Itwasabattle,anda lotoftheconversations werenotfun...youjust hadtoplowahead becauseyouknewit wasgoodforthekids.

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5.
CASESTUDY: WORCESTER TECHNICALHIGH SCHOOL WORCESTER,MA

W ORCESTER T ECHNICAL H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
SheilaHarrity,Principal BettyCopeland,Head,MathDepartment PaulSilverman,MathTeacher DanFitzpatrick,MathTeacher

BUILDINGOPEN RESPONSESKILLS IMPROVESSTUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JonSaphier,ResearchforBetterTeaching RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit5.1 StudentCharacteristicsfor2009 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 65.4% 32.9%

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Worcester MA(all grades)

50.5% 69.1%

9.8% 8.2%

34.0% 14.8%

3.7% 5.3%

2.0% 2.6%

NumberofStudentsatWorcesterTech:1,396
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


Worcester Technical High School is a racially diverse vocational high school servingamostlylowincomepopulation.Over50percentarestudentsofcolor. Almost70percentqualifyforfreeorreducedpricemeals. Exhibit 5.2 shows that in 2006, 87 percent of entering 8thgraders had either failed or scored needs improvement on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) in math, while 50 percent had failed or scored needs improvement in English Language Arts (ELA). When Ms. Harrity becameprincipalofWorcesterTechthreeyearsago,shehadheldmanyjobsin the district, and was herself a product of Worcester Public Schools. She knew that a large school can spin its wheels when trying numerous initiatives. So whenshemetwiththeschools140facultymembers,shetoldthem,Ipromise youthis:wewilldooneortwothingswellwewillnotlosefocus. Exhibit5.2 StudentScoresin2006 MATH ENGLISH

GRADE8MCASSCORES

Failure NeedsImprovement Total Percentage of Students That FailedorNeedImprovement

54% 33% 87%

10% 40% 50%

Source:FromWorcesterspresentationtotheAGIconference

To address these challenges, Worcester Tech decided to focus on open responseorwritingtoapromptineveryclassthroughouttheschool.After oneyear,theprincipalMs.Harrityreports,thenumberofstudentswhoscored proficient or advanced on the ELA portion of MCAS test rose by 40 percentagepoints,whilemathscoresroseby15percentagepoints. Based on average scores on the MCAS, Exhibit 5.3 shows the percentage of Worcester Techs 10thgraders in 2008 who were in each quintile of the 8th grade math distributionin Massachusettstwoyearsearlier,in2006. Itshows thatover60percentscoredinthebottomtwoquintilesas8thgraders. 76|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Exhibit5.3 8thGradeMathDistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.The MassachusettsDepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsor omissions.

Exhibit5.4showsthatwhenWorcesterTechstudentsgainsfrom8thgradeto 10thgradearecomparedwithotherhighschoolsinthestate,WorcesterTech ranks at the 80th percentileperforming better than 80 percent of other schoolsinthestate.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit5.4shownumbersthatare unadjusted for background characteristics; the dark grey bars show numbers that are adjusted. In either case, Worcester Tech ranks high. (Background characteristics include race, gender, free and reduced lunch status, limited Englishproficiencystatus,8thgradeattendance,andage.) Exhibit5.4 8thto10thGradeMathGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.The MassachusettsDepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsor omissions.

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AF OCUS ON M ASTERING O PEN R ESPONSE


Mr. Ferguson asked how important focus is to the culture of success at WorcesterTech,andhowtheschoolhasmanagedtoavoidthethistooshall pass syndrome among teachers, which occurs when schools try to do too much. Wecanallagree,whenweareinpubliceducation,thatyoucanrubyourbelly, tap your head, stand on one foot and jump, and that sometimes feels like education, Ms. Harrity said. However, she promised her staff that the school would stop the insanity and do one or two things well, instead of going in a hundreddirections,becauseweallknowthatdoesnotwork. When Worcester Tech was designing its school improvement plan, it became obviousthattheschoolreallyneededtoaddressthefactthat40percentofits students had scored a zero on the openresponse portion of the MCAS, Ms. Harrityrecounted. Shecalledmanyofthosestudentstoherofficeandaskedthemwhytheyhad scoredazero.Theytoldhertheydidn'tknowwhattheywereexpectedtodoon theopenresponsetest,orhowitwasscored.Asabigsportsfan,shesaid,she believes that everyone needs to know the rules of the game. So she decided thattheschoolimprovementplanwouldfocusonopenresponse. Shetoldtheentirestaffandstudentbody:Idon'tmeantoinsultyou,butwe aregoingtostartfromthegroundlevelandworkourwayup,sothateveryone is on the same page. School leaders then devoted five earlyrelease days to training the staff in what good openresponse writing looks like, and on the staterubricforscoringit. A group of faculty and staff even downloaded and examined MCAS open response anchor papersstudent essays from earlier years. This group included vocational teachers, which Ms. Harrity felt was critical, as vocational teachers and academic teachers need to work collaboratively in offering appliedlearninglessonsthatrelatetotherealworld. Instructional leaders asked teachers to assign openresponse writing in every singlesubject.Thevocationalcomponentwasactuallyeasy,saidMs.Harrity,as in those classes, openresponse writing focused on standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace safety practices,andotherworkrelatedtopics.Teachersandstaffthenusedsamples of student work to decide together which responses to rate advanced, proficient,andsoon,soeveryoneunderstoodhowtogradethemaccurately. 2009AGIConferenceReport

Studentssaidthey didn'tknowwhat theywereexpected todoontheopen responsetest,or howitwasscored.

Instructionalleaders askedteacherstoassign openresponsewritingin everysinglesubject.The vocationalcomponent wasactuallyeasy.

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U SING M ODEL T EACHERS


In emphasizing literacy across the curriculum, Mr. Ferguson asked, how do instructionalleadershelpteacherswhodonotliketowrite,whomightbepoor writers,orwhodonotvaluewriting?Howdoleadersjudgewhetherteachers are up to speed in teaching writing? And what kinds of support do leaders providetoteacherswhodon'twanttoteachliteracy,orwhostruggle? Theschoolrelieson themodelteacher approachtotrain faculty. The school relies on the model teacher approach to train faculty to teach literacy, Ms. Harrity responded. For example, although the ELA Department headteachesduringfouroffiveclassesdaily,shetaughtalessonondeveloping atopicforalongcompositiontomorethan200studentsseatedintheschools auditorium. At the same time, elsewhere in the building, another model teacher showed students how to tackle an openresponse question. Other teachersthenchoseonemodelteachertoobserveinaction,Ms.Harritysaid.

T HE SUCCESSC AMPAIGN
AP O ST E R
To emphasize the key elements of how to effectively answer openresponse questions,theschoolcreatedaposterthatusedthoseelementstospellSUC CESS,Ms. Harrityrecounted.To helpensureschoolwide buyin,she turned the poster over to the Graphics Department for students to design and produce. That poster now hangs in every classroom and every hallway in the school.

A N O P E N R E S PO N S E B A NK
Eachdepartmentheadalsocreatedanopenresponsebanktopreserveallthe openresponsesfrompreviousMCASexamsineachsubject.Wesawnoreason to reinvent the wheel, according to Ms. Harrity, Teachers and staff at high schools often forget to share information and materialsthey need to rediscoverthekindergartenmodelofworkinginthesandboxtogether.

AtalentedEnglish teachercreatedarap spellingoutthe elementsof SUCCESS.The schoolplaysitbefore studentstakeanopen responsetest.

T H E R A P S O NG
Ms.HarrityaskedatalentedEnglishteacherwhoisalsoarappertocreatearap spellingouttheelementsofSUCCESS.Theschoolplaystherapbasedon ConjunctionJunction,What'sYourFunction?fromtheTVshowSchoolhouse Rockbefore students take an openresponse test every two weeks. Students canalsoplaythesongathome,inclass,orbeforetakingtheMCAS,shenoted. 79|P a g e

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Because Worcester Tech is a vocational school, it was also important to integrate workreadiness skills into learning, such as ensuring that students arrive atschool and in class on time, so instead of playingthe gotcha game when the bell rings, she decided to broadcast musicto prompt students to movewillinglytotheirfirstperiodclassontime.

G U I DA N C E C O U N S ELO RS
Mr.Fergusonaskedwhatroleguidancecounselorsplayintheschoolssuccess. They are a major ingredient in students' success, Ms. Harrity responded. At Worcester Tech, counselors write the improvement plan for students in the needs improvement category, so they help identify students strengths and weaknesses. Guidance counselors also help students pick appropriate courses tohelpthemsucceed. Afteroneyear,thenumberofstudentswhoscoredproficientoradvanced on the English Language Arts MCAS test rose by 40 percentage points, while mathscoresroseby15percentagepoints,shesaid.

T ACKLING M ATH A CHIEVEMENT


Although80percentofWorcesterTechstudentsentertheschooleitherfailing or scoring needs improvement in the math portion of MCAS, math teacher Mr. Silverman sees that as an opportunity rather than an obstacle to success. Wearestartingprettyclosetothebottom,wehavealongwaytogo,andwe havemanywaysofgettingthere,hesaid. Onechallengeisthatwhenfreshmenarriveattheschool,administratorsdon't yethavetheir8thgradeMCASresults.Administratorsalsoknowlittleaboutthe studentsbecausetheycomefrommanymiddleschools.Andofcoursestudents haveattitudeissuesthataretypicalofcitystudents,Mr.Silvermansaid. However, administrators and teachers do eventually analyze the results of MCAS tests to create an individual plan for every student, so the school does not lose a lotof time, he said. Teachers use that informationalongwith the state frameworks for what students should learn in every subjectto guide theirlessonplans.Eachdepartment,includingmath,alsohasanMCASproblem bank,sothatteacherscansharelessonplansandopenresponsequestionsthat theyareassigningstudents. AbigkeytothesuccessofWorcesterTechstudentsisthatmathteacherswork with shop teachers and faculty in other technical subjects to create open responsequestionsthatreflectreallife,Mr.Silvermancontended.Instructional 2009AGIConferenceReport

Mathteachersworkwith shopteachersandfaculty inothertechnical subjectstocreateopen responsequestionsthat reflectreallife.

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leaders then use student work to guide professional development in open response. However,Mr.MurnanesurmisedthatwhenstudentsarriveatWorcesterTech, manymightnotknowbasicarithmeticandothersubjectsthattheyshouldhave learned in 4th and 5th grade. He asked how they deal with that problem. Do theyplanremedialcoursestoensuresomeconsistencyforthosestudents,for example? You're absolutely correct, said Mr. Fitzpatrick the basic skills of many studentsarenotwheretheyshouldbe.DuringhisfirstfewyearsatWorcester Tech, he taught inclusion classes, which are open to all students, and tests showedthatthestudentsoftenhad4thgradeskills. The math teachers decided they had to start somewhere, so they began to teachstudentsnewbasicskillseveryweek,hesaid.Thefacultyalsofoundfrom studyingMCASresultsthatifteachersbeatnumbersensetodeath,kidswillbe successful on MCAS tests. So no matter what skill we teach, we include numbersense.Andbelieveitornot,kidswillcomeandasktolearnextraskills, he said. The teachers try to show students that they can succeed, and most willcomeonboardbecausetheywanttobesuccessful. In algebra classes, teachers try to integrate new skills and number sense into everything they teach, Mr. Silverman concurred. For example, while math teachers at other schools might shy away from including fractions in their lessons,WorcesterTechteachersstressthem,becauseweknowkidsareafraid offractions,hesaid. IfIhearonemorekidtellme,IstinkatmathandI'mnotgoingtodowellthis year.Whatdoyoudowiththatkid?Youfindoutwhytheythinktheystinkat math,andyoutrytofixtheproblem.Thereisnomagicpilltotake:it'sjusthard work,andthekidsarewillingtodoit,ifyouletthem.

Nomatterwhatskill weteach,weinclude numbersense.And believeitornot,kids willcomeandaskto learnextraskills.

Theteacherstryto showstudentsthat theycansucceed,and mostwillcomeon boardbecausethey wanttobesuccessful.

E XPLICIT C URRICULUM M APS AND L ESSON P LANS


Tomakeinstructionaseasyaspossibleforteachers,saidMs.Copeland,headof the Math Department, instructional leaders create curriculum maps that essentially say, Can you please try to teach these topics by these dates? In geometry,forexample,suchamap,asshowninExhibit5.5,wouldspecifythe topics that teachers are expected to cover during the first semester by key dates,suchasThanksgiving,winterbreak,andJanuary31.

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Exhibit5.5 ExampleofaGeometryCurriculumMap

GeometryCurriculumMap(1stSemester) TOPIC Ch.1:EssentialsofGeometry Points, lines, planes, segments and congruence, midpoint and distance formulas, measure and classify angles, angle pairrelationships,polygons,perimeter,circumferenceand area Ch.3:ParallelandPerpendicularLines Pairs of lines and angles, parallel lines and transversals, findanduse slopesoflines,writeandgraphequationsof lines,perpendicularlines Ch.4:CongruentTriangles Anglesumproperties,congruenceandtriangles,SSS,SAS, HL, ASA, AAS, use congruent triangles, use isosceles and equilateraltriangles,performcongruencetransformations. Ch.5:RelationshipswithTriangles Perpendicularbisectors,anglebisectorsoftriangles,medi ansandaltitudes Ch.7(7.17.4):RightTriangles Pythagorean Theorem, similar right triangles, special right triangles
Source:FromWorcesterspresentationtotheAGIconference

TARGETDATE -

Departmentheadsdotrackteachersprogressonthesemaps,butdonothold their feet to the fire, according to Ms. Copeland. No one goes up to teachers withasternwarningtoteachallthetopicslistedwithinthefirstsemester,she said.Instructionalleadersknowthatteachersaredoingthebesttheycantoget throughthematerials,andthatteachersarefocusingontheirstudents,noton thelistoftopics. 82|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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I M P ROV ED L E S SO N P LA N S

Anewonlinetemplate includesallthestate standards,the methodologyfor teachingthem,andthe schoolsapproachto assessingstudent work.

To make instruction as proficient as possible, Worcester Tech improved the traditional lesson plan to include all of the standards for assessment. An old stylelessonplanbookwassimplyagridthatteachersfilledouttoshowwhat topicstheyintendedtocoveronanygivenday,Ms.Copelandrelated.Teachers simply filled in their name and the week number and put an X next to the standardtheyplannedtoteachthatweek.Thereweredropdownmenusthat statedwhattheobjectivewas,andteachersjustputanXnexttoit. However, the template did not include all the state standards, even though students need to learn all state standards to score proficient on the MCAS tests. So a new online template was created that now includes all the state standards, the methodology for teaching them, and the schools approach to assessing student work. Teachers put an X next to the standards they are addressing,andaCnexttothosetheyhavecompleted. Before emailing their lesson plans to the department heads, teachers also attachtothetemplateexamplesofslides,worksheets,andbookpagestheyare using in their classrooms. This sort of sharing enables instructional leaders to ensurethatteachersareinfactaddressingthestandardtheycitenotteaching middleschoolmathandcallingithighschoolmath.

Teachersalsoemail departmentheads examplesofslides, worksheets,andbook pagestheyareusing.

BecauseWorcesterTechcoversalargecampus,thebestwayforteachersand staff to work as a team is by using school technology, math teacher Mr. Fitzpatricksaid.Allteachershavelaptops,whichtheyusetoexchangelesson plansandPowerPoints.Thistechnologyalsoengagesthestudents.

G OING BEYOND THE MCAS


Given the high point value of openresponse questions on the MCAS, improvingstudentsscoresonthatportionoftheexamisapowerfulstrategy, Mr. Murnane observed. He asked the team whether Worcester Tech teachers thinktheyaredoingagoodjobofeducatingkids,giventhattheyarefocusing sostronglyonMCASscores. Worcester Tech leaders emphasize integrating academics with the Small LearningCommunity(SLC)model,Ms.Harrityresponded.Forinstance,oneSLC concentrates on the construction trades: students take classes in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and related subjects. Vocational schools formerly sequesteredsuchclassesintheirownwing.However,WorcesterTechintegrates

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theminthesamewingwithclassesdevotedtoscience,math,andEnglish.This isarecipeforappliedacademics,shesaid. TherealityisthatstudentsneedtoperformwellontheMCASortheywillnot receive a high school diploma, Ms. Harrity pointed out. And let's be honest, we need to make AYPAdequate Yearly Progress, as defined by the 2002 federal law, No Child Left Behind. The faculty also wants as many students as possible to score advanced and proficient so the students can qualify for theJohnandAbigailAdamsScholarship,underwhichthestatewillpaytuition atpublicuniversities.

M OT I VAT I NG T H E S TU D E NT S
Facultymembersalso targetopenresponse toempowerstudents: theyaretryingto changethecultureso studentsbelievethat collegeisforeveryone, includingthemselves. However, faculty members also target open response to empower students: they are trying to change the culture so students believe that college is for everyone,includingthemselves,Ms.Harritysaid.Andsheisabigproponentof motivatingstudentstobelieveinthemselves.Forexample,beforetheysitfor anexam,theymustbeconvincedtheywereproperlyprepared,because,aswe all know, if you don't go in with a positive mindset, you've already defeated yourself, she said. The faculty has always told students that they are ready, thattheycandoit,thatwebelieveinthem,shesaid.However,studentsoften say,Yeah,Miss,butyoudon'tknowme,youhaven'twalkedinmyshoes.She responds,Weallhavecrossestobear,everybody'scrossjustlooksalittlebit different. This year, to motivate students and build their confidence, the school transported all 1,400 on 35 buses to a pregame talk with Liz Murray two weeks before MCAS, Ms. Harrity said. Ms. Murray, the subject of the movie Homeless to Harvard, grew up on the streetsactually the subwaysof New YorkCity.Atage17shedecidedtoreturntoschoolforahighschooldiploma. SheendedupgraduatingintwoyearsandattendingHarvard,fromwhichshe recentlygraduated. Ms.Murrayspoketothestudentsforanhourandahalf,andyoucouldhave heardapindropthatentiretime,saidMs.Harrity.Thestudentsdressedfor the talk, held at the Hanover Theatera gorgeous 100yearold renovated venue in our city. And the field trip became a citywide effort: everyone, including the police, got involved. So while Worcester Teach does emphasize MCAS,Ms.Harrityexplained,thatfocushasmanyfacets.

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R E A CH I N G F O R TH E SAT
TheMCASdoesnot preparestudentsfor collegelevelwork. Mr. Ferguson asked whether the schools instruction and curriculum would changeifMCASwereoneofseveralmeasuresdetermininggraduation.Healso askedwhethersuchabroaderapproachwouldaffecttheachievementgap,and whether Worcester Tech students have made equal progress on college admissionstestssuchastheSAT. School staff have a professional responsibility to follow state frameworks, and wedothat aswellaswe can, Ms.Copelandresponded. You canseefrom theanswersoftheteachersthattheirfocusisworkingwiththestudents,but wehavetofollowtheframeworks.Wecannotignorewhatthestateistelling us to do. Nonetheless, Ms. Copeland did acknowledge, As far as the exam itself, nobody likes it. Nobody likes standing in front of a classroom worried because we have these children's names and faces waking us up during the night. It's awfully difficult to look at a student and be worried about them, whethertheyaregoingtopassatestthatmaydeterminewhethertheygeta highschooldiploma.Thatisaverydifficultchallengeforallofus. Thefacultytriesvery hardtopreparestudents forcollegeoranother nextstep,becausethatis thepurposeofhigh school. WeextendourfocusbeyondtheMCAS,becausewehaveto,sheexplained. TherealityisthattheMCASdoesnotpreparestudentsforcollegelevelwork, and the faculty knows that. So they try very hard to prepare students for collegeoranothernextstep,becausethatisthepurposeofhighschool. AccordingtoMs.Copeland,agoodportionofjuniorstooktheSATthisyear. About 70 percent of the class of 2009 is going on to college or a technical school. However, that percentage is not high enough for us, she says, so faculty are looking at where they are falling short with students beyond 10th grade. Administrators and teachers have stopped sitting back and saying, Phew,wegotthroughanotheryearofMCAS.

T R A D E C E RT I FI CAT IO NS
Most of our kids also take certification tests in their trade, Mr. Silverman pointed out. Students MCAS scores are going up, certification scores are goingup,becauseweareteachingourkidstothink,andtodobetterinlife,not justinmathandELA.

H O NO RS C L AS SE S
Theschoolhasalsodoubledthenumberofhonorscoursesitoffers.Itisadding Spanishclasses,and11thand12gradestudentscannowtakeAPbiologyand English,saidMs.Harrity,Sotherigorandrelevancearethere. 2009AGIConferenceReport 85|P a g e

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6.
CASESTUDY: AMHERSTREGIONAL HIGHSCHOOL AMHERST,MA

A MHERST R EGIONAL H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
JaneBaerLeighton,EnglishTeacher,formerDepartmentHead ChrisHerland,EnglishTeacher DanaeMarr,EnglishTeacher KristenIverson,EnglishDepartmentHead

MAKINGTHECASE FORHETEROGENEITY

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
KarinChenoweth,TheEducationTrust ThomasPayzant,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit6.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 19.6% 32.9% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Amherst MA(all grades)

66.8% 69.1%

7.9% 8.2%

11.0% 14.8%

9.1% 5.3%

5.2% 2.6%

NumberofStudentsatAmherst:1,168
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


AtAmherstRegionalHighSchool,inwesternMassachusetts,themissionofthe EnglishDepartmentiseducationalequity.Thedepartmentfulfillsitsmissionin heterogeneousclassrooms,byincludingstudentsofalllevelsinallclasses.The departmentalsomakessocialjusticeacorefocusofallitscourses.Themixed levelapproachputsthedepartmentatoddswiththerestoftheschool,which has opted for more traditional course ability levels. The departments philosophy of heterogeneity also creates friction with some highly educated parents in this college town, which is home to Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts, and within striking distance of several other institutionsofhigherlearning. The student body at Amherst Regional High School has a racial composition quite similar to Massachusetts high schools overall. In addition, students are relativelywelloff:thepercentagewhoqualifyforfreeorreducedpricemealsis lower than the state average. Amherst students also have relatively high averagetestscoresin8thgrade.BasedonaveragescoresontheMassachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), Exhibit 6.2 shows the percentage of Amherst 10thgraders in 2008 who were in each quintile of the 8thgrade English Language Arts (ELA)distribution in Massachusetts two years earlier, in 2006. In contrast to other featured schools from Massachusetts, where a majority were low achievers in 8th grade, a majority of Amherst students scoredinthetoptwoquintilesas8thgraders. Amherststudentsachievedhighaveragegainsfrom8thgradein2006to10th gradein2008,nomatterfromwhatquintileofthe8thgradedistributionthey started. Exhibit 6.3 shows that when their gains from 8th to 10th grade are comparedtothoseofotherhighschoolsinthestatein2008,AmherstRegional High ranks near the 80th percentileperforming better than 80 percent of otherschoolsinthestate.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit6.3shownumbersthat are unadjusted for background characteristics; the dark grey bars show numbers that are adjusted. (Background characteristics include race, gender, free and reduced lunch status, limited English proficiency status, 8thgrade attendance,andage.) 88|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Exhibit6.2 8thGradeELADistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

Exhibit6.3

8thto10thGradeELAGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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P URSUING R ACIAL E QUITY IN H ETEROGENEOUS C LASSES


AmherstEnglishteachers arethrilled withtheirstudentsscoresonthe MCAS ELA exam, and even more thrilled with data on the departments value added, Ms. BaerLeighton, English teacher and former department head, stated.However,althoughthedepartmentscurriculumis closelyalignedwith state standards, teachers do not focus on the MCAS tests per se. Rather, teachersaimtoinspireallstudentstolistenandreadcritically,speakandwrite effectively, and actively engage with each other on an educationally level playingfield. Somecontextisimportant,shesaid.Untilabout15yearsago,AmherstRegional High School had divided courses into three ability groupings: basic, standard, andadvanced.TheEnglishDepartmentstruggledwithproblemsaffectingeach group.Theseincludedbehavioralproblemsamongstudentsinthebasicclasses, attempts by some students to avoid a more challenging curriculum by opting intostandardclasses,andattitudesofentitlementamongstudentsinadvanced classes. Most importantly, a keen observer of two 11th and 12thgrade African American literature classes noticed an important social justice issue: the advanced class was entirely white, while half the students in the basic class right next door were children of color. According to Ms. BaerLeighton, the English Departments good friend and colleague Bruce Penniman, former directoroftheWesternMassachusettsWritingProject,aptlyasked,What'sthe matterwiththispicture? In 1990, the English Department piloted the first courses atAmherstRegional High Schooljournalism and American literaturetaught to students of all levels in the same classroom. The following year, the department voted unanimously toofferonly mixedlevelclasses.Thedepartmentsendorsement of such classes solidified in 1992, Ms. BaerLeighton said, when the NAACP filedalawsuitagainstAmherstRegionalSchoolsinU.S.DistrictCourt,charging thatabilitygroupingshadproduceddefactosegregation. Many researchers and scholars, including Jeannie Oakes and Anne Wheelock, have presented solutions to the segregation that occurs when students are tracked. Despite their testimony, many people inside and outside the school assumed that detracking is a zerosum game, according to Ms. BaerLeighton. Thatis,ifheterogeneityworksforstrugglingstudents,itmustcompromisethe educationofgiftedstudents.

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Ineventuallysettlingthesuit,thesuperintendentofAmherstRegionalSchools grantedconcessionstobothsides,Ms.BaerLeightonsaid.Thesuperintendent agreedtoeliminatethebasictrack,butheallowedeachacademicdisciplineto address de facto segregation internally. The English Department was the only discipline that chose heterogeneity: all the other departments retained both standardandadvancedclasses.

O VERCOMING O BJECTIONS TO H ETEROGENEITY


Mr.FergusonaskedhowEnglishteachersexplainthesegregationthatoccursin other classes at Amherst Regional High School to students who are reading literature thatraises issues of race and class. That's what helps us, said Ms. Iverson, the department head. Amherst is a suburban university town, and manystudentscomehighlypreparedandgoontoattendthemostprestigious universities. Some people in Amherst still believe that my child is going to havesocialjusticevalues,butwillsitinaclassroomonlywithpeoplewholook likehimorher. WhattheEnglishDepartmenthasprovenoverandoveragain,shesaid,isthat faculty can teach an AfricanAmerican literature course to a student who is probably going to Harvard, a student who is newly mainstreamed from an EnglishLanguageLearners(ELL)program,andaspecialeducationstudentwho cannot read the entire text. The department also tries to model social justice studies in the classroom: teachers try to convey that every student brings somethingtothetable.Bytheendofeachcourse,shesaid,studentstendto ask questions such as, If this approach works in this department, why dont otherdepartmentsuseit? However, other departments at the school continue to believe they will lose academic rigor if they teach heterogeneous classes. But English teachers counter that social justice education based on heterogeneous classes is the waytogo.Themajorresistancetoheterogeneityremainsthezerosumgame mentality, according to Ms. BaerLeighton. Some parents and administrators continue to worry that mixedlevel classes lack rigor, and have urged departments at the high school to provide further levels of challenge. Most departmentshaveaddedhonorsandAPsectionstoaccommodatethatrequest. Ironically, that means that todays program of studies at the school largely mirrorstheformerthreetieredstructureitsimplyusesnewnames:college prep, honors, and advanced placement, according to Ms. BaerLeighton. However,theEnglishDepartmentreliesonothermethodstomaintainrigorin

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regular classrooms, in hopes of avoiding that stratification. That is, it tries to provide additional challenge and support without removing students from a heterogeneousenvironment. Mr. Ferguson asked what distinguishes collegeprep and honors work by studentsinthesameclass.Mr.Herlandrespondedthathonorsstudentswork with teachers on an outside project, which may involve reading anotherbook andwritinganotherpaper.Suchprojectssometimesreplacesomeclasswork. So when a class is working on a particular project, an honors student may be workingonasimilarbutlongerandmoreinvolvedproject. Students in all English classes create portfolios, and honors students might includemorematerialsintheirportfolio.Theadvantageofaportfolioisthatit allows teachers to assess an individual student's improvement, said Mr. Herland.Teacherscanseewhereastudentbeganandwhereheorsheended up, and give the student a grade based on that progress, rather than simply comparinghimorherwithotherstudents. The English Department remains the only academic department at the high schoolthathasembracedheterogeneity,Ms.BaerLeightonsaid,whichhasled tosomedepartmentalisolationwithintheschool.

C OMMITMENT TO A CADEMIC F REEDOM


Teacherscreateand modifycurriculafor allcourses. If the English Department has one significant source of support, Ms. Baer Leighton said, it is the strong commitment by Amherst Regional Schools to academic freedom. For the most part, the district heralds teachers as professionals. Teachers create and modify curricula for all courses, which enhancestheircommitmenttoeachcourseandtheeducationalprogramasa whole,accordingtoMs.BaerLeighton. The district also has a long tradition of supporting teacher growth and innovation, she said. Teachers are charged, both individually and collectively, withresearchingsolutionstoeducationalchallenges.Anduntilrecentbudget cuts,thedistricthadalsomadeprofessionaldevelopmentapriority.

P RO MOT I NG W R IT IN G A CRO S S TH E C U R R I CU LU M
Mr. Payzant asked how Amherst students would apply what they learn in English classes to courses in other departments, and whether doing so would prove challenging. Ms. BaerLeighton responded that many years ago the school offered a writingacrossthecurriculum seminar to teachers, and the principalaskedtheEnglishDepartmenttoleadit.Thatwasnotagoodpolitical 92|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
move, she said, because teachers in other departments wondered why they hadtocoverwhattheEnglishfacultyissupposedtoteach.However,becauseof highstakes MCAS tests, which include openresponse essays (writing to a prompt), Ms. BaerLeighton expects teachers of mathematics, science, world languages, and other subjects to assign more and more projects that entail writing.AndsomeofthoseassignmentswillmimictheapproachoftheEnglish Department, she surmised. Teachers from other disciplines also participate in the Western Massachusetts Writing Project,37 which provides professional developmentseminars,shenoted.Thoseteachersbringbackvariousformsof writingtotheirclassrooms.

R E LAT I O N SH I P S B U ILT O N T RU ST
Nooneispigeon holedintoaspecific course,andthat supportsteachers abilitytoconstantly sharewithoutfear. The English Department has almost no hierarchy, according to Ms. Iverson: relationships are built on trust. Exhibit 6.4 on the next page illustrates the dynamic. All teachers have a mixed schedule of 9th and 10thgrade required coursesandaniceselectionofelectives.Nooneispigeonholedintoaspecific course,andthatsupportsteachersabilitytoconstantlysharewithoutfear,she said. If each member of the department expects that he or she should understandmanydifferentcourses,teachersavoidtheownershipdilemmathat cancreatecompetitivenessaroundwhoownswhat. We are a small, closeknit group fluctuating between 10 and 15 members, depending on the budget, and [we are] rather remarkably candid with each other about our successes and challenges on a weekly if not daily basis, Ms. Iversonsaid.Infact,whentryingtodescribeourdepartment,thenotionofa criticalfriendsgroupmakesthemostsense.Ourfirstlevelofaccountabilityis toourselvesandtoourstudents.Weareahighlyselfreflectivelotbynature: weconstantlyscrutinizeourpracticeandask,Arewedoingitthebestwaywe canforourstudents? Departmentaldecisions arebasedonatime consumingyetrewarding processofconsensus building. Teachersinthedepartmentarecommunallyresponsibleforallclasses.Andall departmentaldecisionsarebasedonatimeconsumingyetrewardingprocess of consensus building. With all this team building and coming to consensus, you could imagine that there could be challenges for those new to the department, Ms. Iverson noted. However, every teacher is responsible for integrating new teachers into the department, she said, although each is assignedamentorforspecificcourses.
37.TheWesternMassachusettsWritingProject(http://www.umas.edu/wmwp/)isa localsiteoftheNationalWritingProject(http://www.nwp.org),afederallyfunded programthatfocusesontheteachingofwriting.

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Exhibit6.4 EnglishDepartmentTeacherDynamic

Source:BasedonAmherstspresentationtotheAGIconference

I would describe us as teacherresearchers, and that motivation comes from withinus,Ms.Marrobserved.Nooneisstandingoverusmonitoringus:no one has to. Teachers also feel accountable to the philosophies that chiefly inform our practices, Ms. Iverson explained. Those include the Western Mass Writing Project, Research for Better Teaching (RBT)38, and the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking. And, of course, teachers look to students worktogaugetheirprogressandtheeffectivenessoflessonsandassessments, shesaid.

H OW THE D EPARTMENT S USTAINS S OLIDARITY


The department seems to have achieved 100 percent collaboration among its teachers, Mr. Ferguson observed. He asked how they had developed and strengthenedthatcollaboration.

P RO FE S S I O NA L D EV ELO P M EN T
The school joined RBT this year, and all administrators and department heads have taken RBTsObservingandAnalyzingTeaching (OAT)39 course,Ms.Iverson
38.ResearchforBetterTeaching(RBT)isaschoolimprovementorganizationwith extensiveexperienceinteachingandleadership.Moreinformationcanbefoundat http://www.rbteach.com. 39.RBTsObservingandAnalyzingTeaching(OAT)coursesareleadershipcoursesfor staffwhowriteobservationsforstaffevaluations.OATalsofocusonthedevelopmentof classroomobservationandconferencingskills.

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said.SoAmherstRegionalHighSchoolisimplementingthesameschoolwide programsthatotherschoolsare. However,wehavedoneincredibleamountsofworkwithinourdepartmentto manageandmotivateourselves.Thedifferencemightbethatourdepartment has already constructed a way of being and supporting one another that we would like to share with the rest of the school through what we've learned duringRBTandOATtrainings.

S H A RE D I DE O LO GY
Mr. Ferguson observed that the department has ideological solidarity. Ms. Iverson agreed, and said that makes the department a minority within the school. Mr. Ferguson asked her to comment on the seeds of that ideological solidarity. Was one person at the root of it? I don't think there was one person, Ms. BaerLeighton responded. Even before she came to Amherst RegionalHighSchool33yearsago,therootsofindependenceandconcernfor educationalequityalreadyexistedinthedepartment,shesaid. When the department shifted to heterogeneous classes 20 years ago, every singlememberdidnotsay,Oh,yeah,let'sgoaheadanddothis.Butteachers werewillingtoexperimentandtryveryhard,andtoresolvethatwhat'sbestfor studentshastobewhatthedepartmentdelivers,sheexplained.

S U P P O RT I NG D IF FE R EN T IAT ED I NST RU C TIO N


Mr. Ferguson asked how the English Department prepares, supports, and monitors teachers to ensure differentiated instruction, which is central to heterogeneous classes. Because the school operates on trimesters, each teacher has just three classes at a time, and no teachers student load ever exceeds 80. That allows teachers to get to know their students very well, Ms. Marr said. The desire of many in the school to move to semesters worries Englishteachers,shenoted,becauseinthatcasetheirstudentloadwouldjump to125or150.

Eachnewteacher hasamentor. Teachersshareall coursematerials.

M E NTO RI NG N E W T EAC H E RS
The departmental structure itself probably provides the most support and monitoring, Ms. BaerLeighton commented. Each new teacher has a mentor whohelpshimorherwithdifferentiatedinstructionaswellasthecurriculum. Teachers share all course materials, and department heads and mentors visit

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Departmentheads andmentorsvisit classroomsandgive advice. classrooms and give advice. The department as a whole is very helpful in supportingteachersinanyareaswheretheymighthavedifficulty,shesaid. Mr.Fergusonaskedwhetherthedepartmenthasvetopoweroverthehiringof newteachers.Yes,Ms.BaerLeightonanswered.Whatisthemostimportant questionyouaskapotentialnewhire?heasked.Herresponse:Whatwould you do, if you were teaching a heterogeneous class, to ensure that you are challengingandsupportingourstudentsatthesametime?

A N I NNOVATIVE AND I NCLUSIVE C URRICULUM


All 9thgrade students take writing and literature A and B, and all 10thgrade studentstakeliteratureofsocialcriticismandoralcommunication,accordingto Ms. Iverson. Students can take each course at either the college prep or the honorslevel,buttheysitandlearninthesameclassroom.Thedepartmentalso offers inclusion programs for a large majority of (ELL) and special education students,Ms.Iversonsaid. Eleventh and 12thgrade students choose elective courses based on interest. Eachcourseincludesstudentsfrombothgrades,newlymainstreamedELLand special education students, and some students who are working at the advancedplacement level. The departments elective program is the result of years of teacherinitiated scholarship and creativity, according to Ms. Iverson. Andmanyelectivesreflectthefactthatequityhasalwaysbeenandremainsthe departments primary interest. Social justice education is at our core, she noted. For example, teachers created two electives, AfricanAmerican literature and womeninliterature,inthe1970sreflectingthesocialjusticemovementthen occurring at the university level. The department also teaches a class on the Bibleasliterature,andoffersoneoftheonlyhighschoollevelgayandlesbian literature courses in the country, Ms. Iverson said. Offerings also include a writingprogramandperformanceclasses.

Thedepartments electiveprogramis theresultofyears ofteacherinitiated scholarshipand creativity.

E NCOURAGING C RITICAL T HINKING


In heterogeneous classrooms, all students are immersed in the same challenging texts, said Ms. Marr. Not only does the department not teach to MCAStests,butteachersalsoshunthedrearyfiveparagraphessay.Instead,9th grade immediately emphasizes a broad exposure to English literature and language. Classes introduce students to all major literary genres, a broad

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spectrumofwriting,andarigortheywillcometoexpectofthelanguagearts programthroughouttheirfouryears,Ms.Marrsaid. For example, the department teaches the language of literary analysis right off the bat to 9thgraders at a sophisticated level, giving them tools for discoveryanddiscussion,Ms.Marrexplained.Thatapproachalsopoliticizes literature and gives kids multiple interpretations of the same text. As in life, thereisnoonerightanswer. We cultivate warm relationships with our students, inspiring twoway trust and respect, said Ms. Marr. We care about them and believe they can succeed,andwearedemonstrativeaboutthat.Aswehandthemoffto10th gradeteachers,weareconfidentthatthatgoodfaithcontinues. Building on 9thgrade work, the 10thgrade curriculum continues to develop thesocialjusticecomponentbyexploringauthorsasasocialcritic,accordingto Mr. Herland. Teachers ask students to make connections between the literaturetheyarereading,thewritingtheyaredoing,andthelargerissuesof theworld,includingrace,class,andgender. During a trimester course, students will write themebased analyses, journals and personal narratives, poetry and short stories. They do a lot of personal reflecting,andgrowthroughpracticeandapplication,henoted. Writinginstructionsfocusontheprocessofwriting,andstudentsgothrough multiple revisions of everything they write. They also participate in peer editingworkshops,sometimesonaweeklybasis.Theyareconstantlyreading andhelpingeachothergrowaswriters,Mr.Herlandsaid. Teachers also stress the importance of audience and purpose in writing by exposingstudentstoallkindsofwriting,accordingtoMr.Herland.Towardthat end, teachers divide writing into low stakes, medium stakes, and high stakes. Lowstakeswritingincludesbrainstormingactivities,freewrites,andwriting tolearn.Mostassignmentsaremiddlestakes:writingintendedtobereadin classorbytheteacher.However,teachersalsotrytoassignsomehighstakes writingforstudentpublications. The goal is for students to move from thinking critically about their writing, reading,andperformancetothinkingcriticallyabouttheworldtheywillsoon inherit,saidMr.Herland.

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S UPPORTING AND E NCOURAGING E ACH S TUDENT


EnglishteachersatAmherstconstantlytrytofosterselfconfidenceamongtheir students, according to Ms. Marr. Teachers promote and model the underlying assumptionthateveryonecando,andthenmakeitpossibleforeachstudent to do, by providing whatever support students need in and outside the classroom. The more than 20 percent of the schools students who are receiving special education services can also substitute academic support for electivecourses. Ifstudentswho struggledinmiddle schoolgetanextra trimesterofEnglishat thebeginningofhigh school,theyaremuch moresuccessful. We engage in activities that will enable even students who are struggling to readathometofindthemselvesonalevelplayingfieldinclassatleastlong enoughtoenjoysomesuccess,Ms.Marrsaid.Wedoalotofclosereadingin class, to model analysis and make it a collective exerciseReading aloud is a wonderful way to celebrate story and explore language, and it does not slow thingsdownforthekidswhoaremoreadvanced.Wemightreadpartofbook nine of The Odyssey aloud in class, and then ask students to do a writingto learnactivity,toensurethateachhassomethingtoofferupinthewholeclass discussion.Teacherstrytoencouragestudentswhoarereluctantorunableto articulatetheircontribution,tohelpthemcompletetheirthinkingandreceive thepublicaffirmationtheydeserve,accordingtoMs.Marr. AmherstRegionalHighSchoolstrimesterschedulehasalsoallowedtheEnglish Department to support struggling students in a variety of ways, Ms. Iverson noted. For example, the department has found that if it gives students who struggledinmiddleschoolanextratrimesterofEnglishatthebeginningoftheir highschoolcareer,theyaremuchmoresuccessful.Thetrimesterschedulealso allows students to focus on a few core subjects, and, most importantly, to retakeacourseiftheyfailit.Thatisespeciallyimportantforseniorswhoarein dangerofnotgraduating,Ms.Iversonsaid.

Thetrimesterschedule allowsstudentsto focusonafewcore subjects,and,most importantly,toretakea courseiftheyfailit.

C LO SI NG T H E G A P FO R M A L E S O F C O LO R
Thedepartmentschallengesincludebudgetcutsandthefactthattheschoolas a whole does not embrace heterogeneity, Ms. BaerLeighton noted. A third challenge is a disparity between the departments MCAS scores, which are great,andthecurrentDandFlist. Theschool'slatestreportconcludesthatmalesofcolorhavestatisticallyhigher percentagesofDsandFsthanothergroupsofstudents,sheexplained.English teachershavenotyetexaminedhowthosedataapplytotheirdepartment,or triedtofigureouthowtotackletheproblem.That'swherewearegoingnext.

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A T T R ACT I NG F ACU LT Y O F C O LO R
Mr.Fergusonaskedwhethernonminorityteacherscanintegrateacademicrigor with authentic cultural relevance. Right now I do not have any nonwhite teachers in my department, Ms. Iverson admitted. So AfricanAmerican literaturesectionsaretaughtbywhite,middleclasseducators.Andthatisa big problem. But we don't shy away from itwe talk about it in our classrooms. One of the hugest challenges in our district is not only hiring but retaining staff of color, and making that a mission of the school, she said. The department does not necessarily determine which prospective teachers the school will interview. English teachers have talked about cultivating relationships with historically black colleges that are preparing teachers to developadiverseteachingstaffaswellasadiversestudentbody.

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7.
CASESTUDY: BOSTONLATIN ACADEMY BOSTON,MA

B OSTON L ATIN A CADEMY

P R E S EN T E RS :
LydiaFrancisJoyner,EnglishProgramDirector MirandaLutyens,EnglishandWritingTeacher

ACLASSICAL CURRICULUM MARKEDBY ACADEMICRIGOR ANDAFOCUSON WRITING

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
KarinChenoweth,TheEducationTrust ThomasPayzant,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit7.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 53.0% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Boston Latin MA(all grades)

30.4%

27.4%

17.6%

21.9%

2.7%

69.1%

8.2%

14.8%

5.3%

2.6%

32.9%

NumberofStudentsatBostonLatin:1,759
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


OneofthreepublicexamschoolsinBoston,BostonLatinAcademyserves1,800 racially diverse students in grades seven through twelve. Despite its selectivitystudents must take a test before applyingthe school faces a numberof challengesin educatingthestudentsit doesadmit. Theimpressive achievementrecordofthosestudentsatteststotheschoolsmanystrengths. Boston Latin Academy is one of Bostons three exam schools. Compared to Massachusettsstateaverages,theschoolismoreraciallydiverseandstudents aremorelikelytoqualifyforfreeorreducedpricemeals. Based on average scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System(MCAS),Exhibit7.2showsthepercentageof10thgradersin2008who wereineachquintileofthe8thgradeEnglishLanguageArts(ELA)distribution two years earlier, in 2006. Consistent with being an exam school, Exhibit 7.2 showsthatalmost70percentof10thgradersin2008atBostonLatinAcademy hadscoredinthetoptwoquintilesinELAwhentheywere8thgradersin2006. Exhibit7.2 8thGradeELADistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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BostonLatinAcademystudentsnotonlyhavehigh8thgradescores,theyalso achieve high gains by 10th grade compared to other high schools. Exhibit 7.3 showsthatwhentheirgainsfrom8thto10thgradearecomparedtothoseof other high schools in the state in 2008, Boston Latin Academy ranks near the 90th percentileperforming better than 90 percent of other schools in the state.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit7.3 shownumbersthatare unadjustedfor backgroundcharacteristics;thedarkgreybarsshownumbersthatareadjusted. (Backgroundcharacteristicsincluderace,gender,freeandreducedlunchstatus, limitedEnglishproficiencystatus,8thgradeattendance,andage.) Exhibit7.3 8thto10thGradeELAGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

AR IGOROUS C OMMON C URRICULUM


According to Ms. FrancisJoyner, director of the English program, Boston Latin Academy prides itself on having a classical curriculum marked by academic rigor.Herdepartmenthasalsodevelopedacommoncurriculumforeachgrade levelanotherstrength,shesays. Forexample,all7thgradestudentsstudyShakespeare,andstudentscontinue to study that author at all grade levels. Eighth graders also read Dickens and 2009AGIConferenceReport 103|P a g e

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other challenging authors, although the department does try to balance rigor withcontemporaryworksthatstudentscanrelateto,sheexplained.Anhonors programbeginsin10thgrade,andcontinueswithadvancedplacementin11th grade,andaliteratureandcompositioncoursein12thgrade. Thecurriculumincludessummerreading,andstudentsknowthatwhenthey come back in September, they will be held accountable for the required portion, according to Ms. FrancisJoyner. All sophomores also take a writing classinadditiontotheirregularEnglishclass,andthat,too,isastrength.

T HE W RITING P ROGRAM
Ms.LutyenssaidthatshewenttoMs.FrancisJoynerpartwaythroughherfirst year at the school, when she was teaching writing as well as 11th and 12th gradeEnglish,andsaidtheunthinkable:shewantedtoteachonlywritingthe followingyear.That'sanatypicalrequestattheschool,shesaid,becauseeach instructorteaches140plusstudentseveryday.Sheandanotherinstructordid teach writing exclusively this past year, which she found very rewarding. As muchasIrespecttheideaofteachingmultipledisciplinestomeitwasgreat tofocusallmyplanningtimeonthatoneclass. TeachersatBostonLatinAcademyhaveagreatdealofautonomy,particularlyin teachingwriting,accordingtoMs.Lutyens.Havingcomefromamiddleschool whereshehadtoadheretoascriptedcurriculum, theautonomyhasbeena dream for methat's the type of teacher I am. Unlike other English classes, which focus on literary analysis, the writing course aims to improve students' abilitytowritefordifferentpurposesandaudiences,Ms.Lutyenssaid. The writing teachers also work on fostering students' selfperception as authenticwriters.Studentsbeginbywritinganautobiography:theypretend thattheyarewritingtheinsideflapoftheirfirstbestseller.Studentsalsocreate their own websites where they present themselves as writers. The writing course also aims to prepare students for standardized tests, and the teachers make that explicit to students, according to Ms. Lutyens. As rookies, 7th graders sometimes get teased, Ms. Lukyens noted. So she worked with 7th grade English teachers to pair their students with 10thgraders in the writing classes,whoservedaswritingbuddiesandmentorsfortheyoungerstudents. Inthesixyearsthatthewritingprogramhasbeeninplace,ithashelpeddrive uptheschoolsMCASscores,accordingtoMs.Lutyens,whohastaughtatthe schoolfortwoyears.Moreimportantly,ithashelpedsupportourstudentsin becoming more effective writers. Unfortunately, budget cuts have forced 104|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Thewritingcourseaims toimprovestudents' abilitytowritefor differentpurposesand audiences.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
Boston Latin Academy to eliminate the writing program, so Ms. Lutyens is returningtoteachingEnglish,shesaid.

P REPARING S TUDENTS FOR THE MCAST ESTS


ThemiddleschoolwhereMs.Lutyenspreviouslyworkedofferedaclasscalled MCASPrepto7thgraders,anditwasnotverypopular,sheobserved.However, forthepasttwoyears,shehastaughtaunitinherwritingclassesbasedonthat curriculum:thetestasagenreinitsownright.Thegoalistopreparestudents for the reading comprehension section of the MCAS. Students often aim to score advanced on the MCAS because that qualifies them for the Adams Scholarship(underwhichthestatepaystuitionatpublicuniversities),andthey alsowanttodriveuptheirSATscores,accordingtoMs.Lutyens. Tobegintheunit,theclassdownloadedMCAStestsandstudentanswersfrom prior years, from the website of the state Department of Education. Students then analyzed that information to identify the types and tricks of multiple choice questions, the qualities of openresponse prompts (on which students write a short essay), and high versus lowscoring responses. Students then adoptedtheroleoftestmaker:theycreatedtheirowntestitem,basedonan original piece of writing they had already polished and that Ms. Lutyens had alreadyassessed.Thestudentsalsowrotemultiplechoicequestionsbasedon thetestitem,andcreatedananswerkey.Finally,theycraftedanopenresponse prompt, and wrote an essay that would receive the top score on the MCAS exam. For example, one student used a poem as his test item, even numbering the poems lines. That student also created multiplechoice questions on the poemsvocabulary,mood,andtone,andotherquestionsrequiringanalysisand interpretationofthepoem.Healsodevelopedananswerkey.Thestudentthen createdanopenresponsepromptbasedonthepoem,andamodelresponse. AlthoughthelattermightactuallybetoolongtofitintheMCAStestbooklet, the student recognized that open response is a serious piece of analytical writing,Ms.Lutyensobserved. The10thgraderssentthetestitemstheyhadcreatedtotheir7thgradewriting buddies,whothenansweredthe questions.Thenextdayaweekbeforethe actual7thgradeMCAStestthebuddiesconvenedtoreviewthetesttogether, sothe10thgraderscouldimpartsomeofthewisdomthattheyhadgainedin creatingthetest,Ms.Lutyenssaid.Thismentoringwasimportantbecause7th graderswhopreviouslyattendedparochialorprivateschoolshadnottakenthe 2009AGIConferenceReport 105|P a g e

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4thgradeMCASexam.Itwillbeinterestingtoseewhetherthismentoringhad animpactontheactualMCASresults,Ms.Lutyenscommented. Somestudentsreallygotintotheideaoftryingtocreateatestthatlookedjust liketheMCAS,whileotherstudentshatedit,pulledtheirhairout,andemailed me at 2:00 a.m. with complaints, she noted. However, during student reflections at the end of the unit, one student wrote that the exercise was useful because it enabled her to put herself in the shoes of the test maker. Anotherstudentcommentedthattheprojectwasinterestingbecauseitwasas ifIwastakingonaboutthreeorfourrolesinthisproject,whichwaskindof hard but fun. Still another attested that it was rewarding to see my buddy takemytestandactuallydowellonit,andthentellmesheenjoyedmystory.

AC OLLEGIAL P ROFESSIONAL L EARNING C OMMUNITY


Newteacherslookto olderteachersfor guidance.Theyshare instructionalpractices andcurriculummaterials. The department tries to foster collegiality and a professional learning community, Ms. FrancisJoyner said. For example, teachers share instructional practicesandcurriculummaterials.Andbecauseofsignificantstaffturnoverin recentyears,newEnglishteachershavelookedtoolderteachersforguidance andhelpinworkingthroughthecurriculum. The Boston Teachers Union contract mandates 30 hours of professional developmentabuiltinvehicleforsharing,Ms.FrancisJoynersaid.Theschool devotesthattimetodepartmentalmeetings,runbyprogramdirectorssuchas herself; common planning time, directed by teachers; and wholeschool meetings. A recent wholeschool meeting addressed bullying, specifically in relationtolesbian,bisexual,gay,andtransgenderstudents. Asasupervisor,Ms.FrancisJoyneroftenvisitsclassrooms,andsheseesalot ofgoodthingsgoingon.Iaskteachersiftheywillpleasesharesomeofthose lessons at the departmental meeting, so we learn from each other. Departmentalmeetingsarealsoatimefordiscussingproblemsthatteachers are experiencing and sharing possible solutions. And they are a time for deciding on curriculum content, and for discussing administrative concerns as well. We also use departmental meetings to look at student work, Ms. FrancisJoynersaid.Forexample,teachersintheEnglishDepartmentadminister common final exams, and then analyze the results. The information we get informsourinstructionandhelpsusimprove. Staff members also examine results from the MCAS exam. Our students do quite well on the MCAS, given our population, she noted. For example, 47 percent of Boston Latin Academy students scored advanced this past year, 106|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Weusedepartmental meetingstolookat studentwork.The informationweget informsourinstruction andhelpsusimprove.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
while 52 percent scored proficient. Only 1 percent scored needs improvement. Although the department is proud of those accomplishments, it is not satisfied, according to Ms. FrancisJoyner: Our goal is to push as manystudentsaswecanintotheadvancedcategory. The city pays the cost of taking the PSAT for 10thand 11thgraders, and the CollegeBoardprovidesuswithalotofanalyticaldataspecifictoourschool,so weusedepartmentmeetingstolookathowourstudentshaveperformed,she said. Using item analysis, the staff looks for weaknesses, and then we try to useourcurriculumtoaddressthoseweaknesses.Again,thegoalistotrytoget thoseSATscoreshigherandhigher.

Usingitemanalysis, thestafflooksfor weaknesses;the goalistotrytoget SATscoreshigher.

R ESISTANCE TO W RITING A CROSS D ISCIPLINES


Ms. Chenoweth asked how the programs and approaches of the English Departmentrelatetothoseoftherestoftheschool.SomeofwhattheEnglish Department is doing reflects administrative priorities, Ms. FrancisJoyner responded. This year a program administrator led the faculty in talking about activelearningstrategies,andalsoprovidedahugeamountofsupportatthe classroomleveltointerestedteachers,accordingtoMs.Lutyens.Theresponse amongteachersevenwithintheEnglishDepartmenthasbeenmixed,butthat wasdefinitelyanadministrativeinitiative,shesaid. Tohelppromotewholeschoolimprovement,thedistrictisalsomovingtoward writingacrossdisciplines, Ms.FrancisJoynernoted. Ms.Lutyenssaidshehas heard grumbling from history teachers saying, Isn't your job to teach the writing?Theyfeelthattheneedtoassesswritingisputtingthemoverthe topintermsofworkload.

M OT I VAT I NG S T U D E NTS
Asecondchallengeisstudentmotivation,especiallygiventheschoolsrigorous curriculum, according to Ms. FrancisJoyner. Although the school has a number of really good students, a certain segment of the population seems content with Cs and Dsjust getting by, she said. The school has tried to createastrongcultureofacademicachievementbysettingupachapterofthe National Honors Society, and presenting book awards to students. However, tryingtomeetwithstrugglingstudentsandinspirethemandgetthemtowork uptotheirpotentialisdifficult,saidMs.FrancisJoyner.

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D I F FE R E NT T EACH IN G S T Y L E S A ND P H ILO SO P H IE S
Athirdchallengeisthediversityofteachingstylesandphilosophiesamongthe Englishfaculty,shesaid.Somemembersofthedepartmentlikethetraditional way of teaching, and it works for them to some degree. However, that also means there's some resistance and reluctance to take risks and implement newteachingstrategies.

T HE U NIQUE C HALLENGE F ACING E XAM S CHOOLS


Outside observers often do not give exam schools much credit, Mr. Ferguson observed, because youve got good kids, and people think those kids are goingtodogreatanyway.Still,hewasimpressedthatallthreeexamschools inBostonareamongthestate'shighestgainers:theyareproducingthebiggest gains[inMCASscores]from8thgradeto10thgrade,comparedtostudentsat otherschoolswhohavethesamescoresattheendof8thgrade.Thisisinspite ofthefactthatstudentsatBostonsexamschoolsaredisproportionatelynon whiteandmanyqualifyforfreeorreducedpricelunch. TheLatinAcademy facultyisknownfor beingnurturing,andthe curriculumisastrength. Heaskedtowhatdegreetheschoolsresultsreflectthequalityofeducationat Boston Latin Academy, and how an exam school education differs from an educationatotherBostonpublicschools.Ms.Lutyensrepliedthat,toapplyto Bostons three 7ththrough12thgrade exam schools, students must take the Independent Secondary Enrollment Exam, which is also the entry exam for private schools. Of those three schools, Boston Latin School ranks at the top, BostonLatinAcademyrankssecond,andtheO'BrienSchool,whichfocuseson mathandscience,ranksthird. Although the majority of topscoring students choose Latin School because of its history and prestige, some do choose Boston Latin Academy, Ms. Francis Joynersaid.TheBostonLatinAcademyfacultyisknownforbeingnurturing,and thecurriculumisalsoastrength,andthatprobablyhelpsaccountforstudents success,shesaid. Theschoolcoulddo muchmoretohelp studentsrecognizethat abilityisdeveloped ratherthaninnate. IhavetaughtatotherschoolsinBoston,andanyonewhosayswehaveiteasy needs to comeand visit us for a day,because we have a much larger student load,Ms.Lutyenscommented.Theschoolalsohasmanyfrustratedstudents, shesaid.Theyarriveseeingthemselvesasthesmartkidwhogotintoanexam school, but when they are suddenly surrounded by other highachieving, students,theybegintothink,MaybeI'mnotsmart.Theschoolcoulddomuch more to help students recognize that ability is developed rather than innate, shesaid. 2009AGIConferenceReport

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In fact, many Boston Latin Academy students would prefer to transfer to anotherschool.However,parentshaveworkedveryhardtogettheirstudents tothisacademicinstitution,wheretheydohavealotofpotentialandalotof opportunities. So parents often resolve that their child will remain at the school no matter what. Working with students who do not want to be there and arrive late, act out, or do not complete their work is a challenge, Ms. Lutyensattested.However,theEnglishDepartmentdoesagoodjoboftrying to work with those students, and we are adjusting as a faculty to changing demographicsandsomechangingattitudes.

Parentsworkveryhardto gettheirstudentsintothis school,sotheyoften resolvethattheirchild willremainnomatter what.

T HE B OSTON T EACHER R ESIDENCY P ROGRAM


Ms.LutyenspraisedtheBostonTeacherResidencyProgram,thecitysinhouse alternative for licensing teachers, of which she is a graduate. That program trainsadiversegroupofteacherstoworkwithadiversestudentpopulation.Of some 40 people in Ms. Lutyens residency, for example, half were nonwhite, andsheherselftrainedwithanAfricanAmericanteacher. Mr.Fergusonaskedwhatshehadgainedfromthatprogramthatshecouldnot have obtained anywhere else. Working in a Boston public school classroom fromthefirstdayofschooluntilthelastdayofschool,fourfulldaysaweek, Ms.Lutyensresponded.Andhowdidthatchangeyou?Mr.Fergusonasked. Iwasthere,itwasreal,Ifacedalotofchallenges,shesaid.Ihadagirlwho said, You are lucky I'm not up your butt. I was able to respond. I said, I appreciate you not being up my butt. A veteran teacher was sitting nearby, and the two teachers talked about the incident. According to Ms. Lutyens, I movedon,andIwastherethenextday.

N EARING A C LOSE IN R ACIAL A CHIEVEMENT G APS


Ms. Chenoweth asked whether Boston Latin Academys graduation rates are rising.Theschoolsgraduationrateswerecloseto100percentthelasttimeshe looked,Ms.FrancisJoynerresponded.Ourblackstudentsdobetterthanblack studentsatLatinSchool,Ms.Lutyensadded,despitethefactthatBostonLatin Academy has a higher proportion of AfricanAmerican students. There are someimpressivethingsaboutthisschool,Mr.Fergusonobserved. TestscoredataseemtosuggestthatBostonLatinAcademyhasnoachievement gap, Mr. Ferguson noted: students in all racial groups score at a high level. You're right, in terms of race, Ms. FrancisJoyner responded. We do, however,haveagendergap,andwe'velookedatthat. 2009AGIConferenceReport 109|P a g e

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8.
CASESTUDY: RANDOLPHHIGH SCHOOL RANDOLPH,MA

R ANDOLPH H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
BillConard,Principal CherylWrin,DirectorofEnglishLanguageArts,K12 ChristineBeagan,InstructionalCoach,grades712

CREATINGA STUDENTFOCUSED TEACHINGCULTURE TOIMPROVE LEARNING

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
KarinChenoweth,TheEducationTrust ThomasPayzant,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit8.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Asian Other %Free Lunch 52.1% 32.9% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)


White

Black

Hispanic

Randolph MA(all grades)

14.3% 69.1%

57.3% 8.2%

8.1% 14.8%

18.2% 5.3%

2.1% 2.6%

NumberofStudentsatRandolph:726
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


RandolphHighSchoolservesasuburbantownofsome31,000people16miles south of Boston. The schools 726 students speak 28 different languages, accordingtoDr.Conard.Tenyearsago,amajorityofstudentsatRandolphHigh Schoolwerewhiteandfewerthan20percentqualifiedforfreeorreducedprice meals.Today,over80percentarestudentsofcolor,and52.1percentqualifyfor freeorreducedpricemeals. Based on average scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System(MCAS),Exhibit8.2showsthepercentageofRandolphs10thgradersin 2008 who were in each quintile of the 8thgrade English Language Arts (ELA) distributioninMassachusettstwoyearsearlier,in2006.Itshowsthatover50% scoredinthebottomtwoquintilesas8thgraders. Exhibit8.2 8thGradeELADistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

Exhibit 8.3 shows that when their gains from 8th grade to 10th grade are comparedtothoseofotherhighschoolsinthestate,RandolphHighranksnear the80thpercentileperformingbetterthan70to80percentofotherschools inthestate.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit8.3shownumbersthatareunadjusted 112|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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for background characteristics; the dark grey bars show numbers that are adjusted. (Background characteristics include race, gender, free and reduced lunchstatus,limitedEnglishproficiencystatus,8thgradeattendance,andage.) Exhibit8.3 8thto10thGradeELAGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

A DAPTING TO C HANGING D EMOGRAPHICS


Inthepastthreeyears,wehaveaimedtototallytransformahighschoolthat hadbeendeclininginperformanceforseveralyears,saidDr.Conard.Randolph Highis only part of the way through its change process, but improvements in studentperformancearealreadyevident. Becausethetownitselfis61percentwhite,thecommunityhasbeentryingto understand the value of diversity, said Dr. Conard. That includes trying to understandhowallstudentsareourstudents,andhowwevaluethemandhow wegivethemopportunitiestofurthertheireducation,eveniftheydon'tlook like us or don't have the same background. Until a year and a half ago, the communityhadnotsupportedtheRandolphPublicSchools,Dr.Conardnoted. 2009AGIConferenceReport 113|P a g e

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The town had cut the school budget, forcing the school to sharply reduce its faculty. However, through the hard work of the district central office, the School Committee,andlayvolunteers,thetownpasseda$5.5milliontaxoverridein spring 2008, specifically to support the schools. (State law limits cities and towns from raising property taxes by more than 2 1/2 percent per year, but communitiescanvotetooverridethatlimit.)Thatwasthenthelargestoverride ever passed in Massachusetts, so the vote was quite an accomplishment, he remarked.

T HREE S IMPLE I DEAS


Three years ago, before that vote, Randolph High School had embarked on a process of transformation that focused on improving overall student achievement as well as test scores. Administrators began with three simple ideas,accordingtoDr.Conard: 1. Teach students, not subjects. The school has aimed to become student centeredto recognize that teachers are teaching young menandwomen,notacademicsubjects. 2. Create schoolwide change, not isolated change. The schools professional learning community focuses on creating high expectationsforstudentachievement,andtheschoolimprovement plancentersonimprovingtheteachingandlearningprocess. 3. Foster smaller learning communities that give all teachers and studentsopportunitiesforrigorousacademicandsociallearning.In theschoolssmalllearningcommunities,100studentstakeclasses together from teachers in various subjects. Those teachers collaborateduringcommonplanningtimeduringtheschoolday. Facultyandstaff needtotreatevery studentinthe buildingasifheor shewereourown sonordaughter.

V ISION S TATEMENT
To support the schools transformation, administrators developed a vision statement that calls for educating every child. Although the faculty now cognitively understands that principle, Dr. Conard said, staff members are workingontheheartpiece:theneedtotreateverystudentinthebuildingas ifheorshewereourownsonordaughter.Administratorsandteachersarealso tryingtoensurethatstudentsseethemselvesintheschoolsvisionstatement.

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E MBRACING F ULL I NCLUSION


Aspartofitsschoolimprovementplan,RandolphHighSchoolhasalsoembraced fullinclusion,accordingtoCherylWrin,directorofK12ELA.Some95percentof special education students take mainstream classes, which are cotaught by regularandspecialedteachers.Nextyeareachspecialedteacherwillfocusona specificcontentarea.Forexample,intheELADepartment,anEnglishspecialed teacher will work with 9th and 10thgrade teams, and with 11th and 12th gradeteams. A number of other new initiatives make working at Randolph High School exciting and energizing right now, Ms. Wrin said. For example, the school has always made AP tests available to its students. However, the school recently receivedafiveyear,$600,000MassachusettsMathandScienceInitiativegrant, whichwillallowthestafftoexpandthenumberofAPclassesfromsixtonine, and to train teachers to teach those courses. All 10thgrade students will also take the PSAT starting this coming year. So the school is starting to build the rigorthatweknowallstudentsneed,shesaid. Ifstudentslearn higherorderthinking skillsandhowto communicateeffec tively,theywilldo wellonanytest.

F OCUS ON H IGHER O RDER T HINKING S KILLS


RandolphHighSchoolhasdeliberatelyavoidedthepedagogyofthepoor,said Ms.Beagan,grade712instructionalcoach.Theschooldoesnotusedrillandkill topreparestudentsfortheMCASexam,whichtheymustpasstoreceiveahigh school diploma. Our belief is that if students learn higherorder thinking skills and learn how to communicate effectively in written and oral communication, they will do well on any test, she said. So rather than creating a testdriven curriculum,schoolstaffaimtoembedhigherorderthinkingskillsthroughoutthe curriculum,andtopreparestudentstothinkandwriteeverysingleday.Students must now pass a composition class before they graduate. Administrators have shifted that class from 10th to 9th grade to guarantee that all students take it before taking the 10th grade MCAS exam, and that move has also had a significantimpact. Administratorsandteachersalsobelieveinexposingallstudentstoarichvariety ofliterature,accordingtoMs.Beagan.Sothreeyearsago,asthestaffbeganto embrace the notion that all students will learn at high levels, the ELA Departmenteliminatedthelevelthreetrack.Instructionalcoachesnowfocuson theteachingandlearningthatmustoccurundersuchahighachievingsystem.

Staffaimtoembed higherorderthinking skillsthroughoutthe curriculum.

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C OMMITMENT TO P ROFESSIONAL D EVELOPMENT


ThetransformationofRandolphHighSchoolhasrequiredpursuingprofessional developmentinanengagingbutseriousway,Ms.Wrinsaid.Forexample,two years ago, administrators made a commitment to use Studying Skillful Teaching40the Research for Better Teaching (RBT) modelto train all teachers. The school continues to offer that training to teachers on their voluntarytime.

B U I L DI NG A C U LT U RE O F T EAC HIN G
Thewholeculturehas changed:theprincipal hascreatedabuilding wherewetalkabout teachingandlearning. Mr.Payzantaskedhowtheschoolcreatedacultureofteachingstudentsrather than subjects. The Skillful Teacher course was an important initiative in that regard,Ms.Beaganresponded,becauseitallowedteachersandstafftodevelop acommonlanguagearoundinstructingstudents.Nowtheydonottalkabouta poetry class, for example: we talk about our thirdperiod class of students. TheRBTmodelhasalsobeenahugeimpetusinencouragingeveryonetotalk about higherorder thinking skills, she said. When Ms. Beagan was in the lunchroomwithyoung teachersatthe endof theyear,itdawnedon herthat they were talking about lesson plans and something that had happened in their classroom. She said, The whole culture has changed: the principal has createdabuildingwherewetalkaboutteachingandlearning.

E VA LUAT I O N
Administratorshavealsostrengthenedsupervisionandevaluation,accordingto Ms.Wrin.Forexample,theytookacoursethatcomplementedStudyingSkillful Teaching, to help them mentor and monitor teachers better. This year, the administrative teamincluding the instructional coachescompleted the Observing and Analyzing Teaching (OAT)41 program, which is also part of the RBT model. That approach enables all administrators to use the same criteriaandterminologywhenevaluatingteachers,shesaid. Ms.Wrinalsoaddedthatadministratorsnowusenumerousdocumentstohelp themevaluateteachersproficiency.Eachdirectorofinstructionmeetswiththe building principal, superintendent, assistant superintendent, and director of
40.RBTsStudyingSkillfulTeachingisacoursethatsupportsteachersinimproving studentachievement.Formoreinformation,seehttp://www.rbteach.com. 41.RBTsObservingandAnalyzingTeaching(OAT)courseisaleadershipcoursefor staffwhowriteobservationsforstaffevaluations.OATalsofocusonthedevelopment ofclassroomobservationandconferencingskills.

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student services to talk through every evaluation before providing a midyear report to each teacher. These powerful conversations have helped the school make a lot of instructional changes, she asserted. At the end of the year, administrators provide summative reportsincluding formal evaluationsto each teacher, and meet with him or her individually. These meetings allow administrators to specify areas of improvement to support student achievementespeciallyforteacherswhohavebeenhiredwithreservation.

Attheendoftheyear, administratorsprovide summativereports includingformal evaluationstoeach teacher.

W A LK T H RO U G H S
Building administrators and districtlevel curriculum directors such as Ms. Wrin nowdoclassroomwalkthroughsseveraltimesayear.Andattheendoftheyear, the entire central office team does a sweep through elementary, middle, and highschoolstotalkaboutteachingandlearning. Dr. Conard also initiated peer classroom walkthroughs last year. Under this program, teachers volunteer to observe their colleagues teachan approach thathasbecomeastrongvehicleforimprovinginstruction,Ms.Wrinsaid.When theschoolpilotedthepeerwalkthroughs,instructionalleaderswantedteachers tounderstandthattheexerciseswerenotintendedtopointfingers:theywere directed toward building a professional, collegial staff that examines best practices, he said. However, the next step does include distributing nuggets of information from the debriefings to staff members schoolwide, rather than restrictingthefindingstothethreeorfourteacherswhohappentobepartofa walkthrough. Mr. Payzant observed that there are two different types of classroom walk throughs being used at Randolph. He asked how staff members design those walkthroughs, and what they hope to observe in classrooms that reflects the schools success. The walkthroughs began when administrators went into classrooms to provide feedback to teachers, Dr. Conard said. The school then pilotedpeerwalkthroughslastyear,togetfacultybuyin.Thisyear,theschool instituted them schoolwide: every teacher except one volunteered to have colleagues come into his or her classroom. The peer walkthroughs are interdisciplinary,henoted:amathteacher,anartteacher,andanEnglishteacher might walk into a science teacher's classroom, for example. This team would spend12to15minutesineachoftwoclassrooms,andthenateacherfacilitator leadsa15minutedebriefing. This year the peer walkthroughs focused on instructional best practices, because instructional leaders wanted to build a foundation of trust. Now that teachers believe that the walkthroughs are not evaluativethat they will be

Peerwalkthroughs areaboutbuildinga professional,collegial staffthatexamines bestpractices.

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used only for professional developmentthe teachers are asking for more concrete focus and feedback, said Dr. Conard. This is why, this summer, staff members are reading Classroom Instruction That Works,42 which provides researchbased strategies for increasing student achievement. They will use peerwalkthroughstoobserveteachingstrategiesfromthattext. This approach to walkthroughs means that, as an English teacher, she can observe whether a math teacher is engaging students, and whether they are actively thinking, Ms. Beagan noted. This enables her to determine whether teachersareteachingstudents,notjusttrigonometryorcalculus. Howdoestheschoolorganizeteacherstocompleteeightwalkthroughseach year?Mr.Fergusonasked.Theadministrationcreatesascheduleforthewalk throughs, which occur during common planning time on Fridays, Dr. Conard said. Teachers know when observers will visit their classrooms, and they are prepared. Mr. Ferguson then asked whether teachers are trained to lead the debriefing sessions, and whether they have a format. Teachers volunteer to facilitate the debriefings, which do not have a format, Dr. Conard responded: Right now they are simply conversations among colleagues. Ms. Chenoweth wonderedwhethersomeonetakesnotesorwritesupminutes.Yes,thereare notes,Dr.Conardsaid.Andhowaretheydistributed?Ms.Chenowethasked. At this point the notes go only to participants in each session, Dr. Conard responded.
COACH I N G FO R BE TT ER E LA IN STRU C TI O N

Nowthatteachers believethatwalk throughswillbeused onlyforprofessional development,the teachersareaskingfor moreconcretefocus andfeedback.

Teachersareasked questionssuchas:Are youchallengingyour studentswiththis lesson?Whatoutcome doyouexpect?

The additional funding provided by the override allowed the school to create the new position of instructional coach in the ELA Department, according to Ms.Beagan.Lastyearwasher28thyearasaclassroomteacher,andthisyear was her first as an instructional coach. In that position, she could walk into teachers' classrooms and observe their lessons, and she collected and read every teacher's lesson plans every week. She then met with teachers to talk about their lessons and instructional strategies during three class periods devoted to common planning time built into the schedule every other week. Ms. Beagan asked teachers questions such as: Are you challenging your studentswiththislesson?Whatoutcomedoyouexpect?Instructionalleaders

42.RobertJ.Marzano,DebraPickeringandJaneE.Pollock,2001.ClassroomInstruction ThatWorks:ResearchBasedStrategiesforIncreasingStudentAchievement. AssociationforSupervisionandCurriculumDesign.

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andteachersalsousetheplanningtimeto examinestudentworkanddevise newlessonplans. The school also added instructional coaches for each content area this year, Ms. Wrin said. That has enabled staff members to talk less about course contentandmoreaboutpedagogyandbestpractices,andtoensurethatthe latter are driving instruction. So a constant conversation has been evolving throughout the building about what teachers are teaching, Ms. Beagan said, andthishasoccurredbecausetheschoolhascreatedaninstructionalcoaching model,aprofessionallearningcommunity,andcommonplanningtimeduring theschoolday.Aspartofthiscultureofconversation,theprincipalaskedall teachers at Randolph High to read Understanding by Design43a book that offers a framework for centering curriculum and assessments on big ideas, essentialquestions,andauthenticperformanceoverthesummertoprovide acommonlanguagefordiscussions.AsMs.Beaganemphasized,Wearenot talking about MCAS prep: we are talking about teaching and learning higher orderthinking.
U S I N G CO MM O N P LA NN I NG T I M E E F FE C TIV ELY

Instructionalleadersand teachersuseplanning timetoexaminestudent workanddevisenew lessonplans.

Mr. Ferguson asked how the school ensures that teachers use common planning time effectively. Ms. Beagan noted that Randolph Highs common planningtimeisnotwhatteachersoftencallpreptime(althoughthelatteris also part of each teacher's schedule). Rather than traditional study hall, or hallway security and monitoring duty, teachers have curricular duty every otherweek,whichtheyusetoplaninstruction.OnMondays,planningisself directed. The three common planning times occuron Tuesdays, Wednesdays, andThursdays.Andadministratorsleadprofessionaldevelopmentsessionson Fridays. Eithertheinstructionalcoachorthecurriculumdirectorcreatesanagendafor common planning meetings at the beginning of the year, according to Ms. Beagan. This year, as the ELA coach, she met with the ELA director to plan those meetings. Participants sometimes focus on student work, sometimes discuss an article on an instructional strategy, and sometimes work on the curriculum.Astheyearprogresses,ateachermightsay,Iwouldreallyliketo talkaboutthisinstructionalstrategy.Canyoubringinsomelessons?

43.GrantP.WigginsandJayMcTighe,2005.UnderstandingbyDesign.Associationfor SupervisionandCurriculumDesign.

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Commonplanningtime wasthemostsignificant changebecauseitdidgo alongwaytoward creatingaculturefocused onteachingandlearning. AccordingtoMs.Beagan,commonplanningtimeisthemostsignificantchange atRandolphHighSchool,becauseitdidtrulygoalongwaytowardcreatinga culture[focusedon]teachingandlearning.Staffmembersconceivedofschool widepeerwalkthroughsduringcommonplanningtime,forexample. Mr. Ferguson asked: If he were the proverbial fly on the wall, what would he observe during common planning time in which teachers look at student work? And how do teachers learn to participate? Looking at student work during common planning time literally means examining essays that one teacher assigned to a class, Ms. Beagan responded. I know I'm kind of old school,butIhaveapersonalpreferenceforlookingatstudentworkinitsraw form,ratherthanrelyingonitemanalysis,whichisallthefashionnow. For example, teachers might examine whether students answered the key question a teacher posed in an assignment. This process requires the grunt work of sitting in a circle, reading the essays, having a conversation, and analyzingwhathastohappenintheclassroomtocorrectanydeficiencies,Ms. Beagan said. Those conversations can occur in many different ways, she acknowledged,butshethinksschoolsneedtobuildtimeintotheschooldayto ensurethattheyareeffective. Common planning time can also focus on how teachers assess student work, Ms.Wrinobserved.TheELADepartmentisnowtryingtocometoconsensuson thatprocess.Whatdoesanexemplarypaperreallylooklike,andwhatcriteria arewesettingtomakesurethatstudentshaveequalexperiences,andthatour gradingsystemisbasedonsoundknowledgeandresearch?

J UMP S TARTING THE T RANSFORMATION P ROCESS


Ms.ChenowethaskedwholedtheRandolphschoolimprovementprocess.Dr. Conard responded that that process began with the superintendent, who understoodthatthecommunitywasnotfocusingontheschools,andcertainly notonthehighschool.Thesuperintendentworkedhardtobuildlocalsupport. For example, in 2006 he held a strategic planning conference to examine the stateofRandolphschoolsthatdrew250communitymembers. The high school is actually on probation with the National Education Assessment System, Dr. Conard acknowledged. And more than 65 percent of the schools teachers are not tenured, which means they have worked for RandolphPublicSchoolsforfewerthanfouryears.Soalthoughhedidnotbegin histenurewithabrandnewfaculty,manyteachersarenew,andtheyrealized that they would have to wear multiple hats, he said. Teachers are passionate 120|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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about the diversity of the student body, and want to be agents of change, so theschoolimprovementprocesshasbeenverycollaborative,heattested. Ms.Chenowethaskedwhethertheschoolsgraduationratesarerising.Some78 percentofRandolphHighSchoolstudentsgraduate,Dr.Conardresponded.This year, 90 percent of graduating seniors are attending a fouryear or twoyear collegeoruniversity.

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9.
CASESTUDY: LYNNENGLISHHIGH SCHOOL LYNN,MA

L YNN E NGLISH H IGH S CHOOL

P R E S EN T E RS :
KathleenBonnevie,MathDepartmentHead JenniferCole,MathTeacher PaulMailloux,MathTeacher TimSerino,MathTeacher

COLLEGIALITYINA TRADITIONAL SETTING CONTRIBUTESTO SUCCESS

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
KarinChenoweth,TheEducationTrust ThomasPayzant,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit9.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 72.2% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Lynn English MA(all grades)

29.2%

15.0%

43.6%

8.3%

3.9%

69.1%

8.2%

14.8%

5.3%

2.6%

32.9%

NumberofStudentsatLynnEnglish:1,729
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


LynnEnglishisaraciallydiversehighschoolinthecityofLynninNortheastern Massachusetts.TwothirdsofLynnEnglishstudentsqualifyforfreeorreduced pricemeals. Based on average scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System(MCAS),Exhibit9.2showsthepercentageofLynnEnglish10thgradersin 2008 who were in each quintile of the 8thgrade math distribution two years earlier,in2006.Theexhibitshowsthattheschoolsstudentswerefairlyevenly spreadoverthebottomfourquintilesofthe8thgradedistribution. Exhibit9.2 8thGradeMathDistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

Exhibit9.3onthenextpageshowsthatwhengainsfrom8thgradeto10thgrade arecomparedwithotherhighschoolsinthestate,LynnEnglishranksatthe80th percentileperforming better than 80 percent of other schools in Massachusetts. Furthermore, the school performs especially well with the lowestachievers.Indeed,consideringonlythebottomtwoquintilesofthe8th grade distribution,Lynn English performedbetterthan90 percentoftheother 124|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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schools in the state at raising math scores. The light grey bars in Exhibit 9.3 show numbers that are unadjusted for background characteristics; the dark greybarsshownumbersthatareadjusted.(Backgroundcharacteristicsinclude race,gender,freeandreducedlunchstatus,limited Englishproficiencystatus, 8thgradeattendance,andage.) Exhibit9.3 8thto10thGradeMathGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

F OCUSING ON I MPROVING I NSTRUCTION


SeveralfactorshavespurredLynnEnglishHighSchooltoimproveitsinstruction, said Ms. Bonnevie, head of the Math Department. Those include the state Education Reform Act of 1993, the MCAS, the need to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and the National EducationAssessmentSystem(NEAS)accreditationteam. Competitionwithotherschoolsinthedistrictalsokeepsteachersmotivated, shesaid.ThecityofLynnhastwootherpublichighschools,sowearealways fighting for bragging rights. At the district level, a Performance Improvement Mapping(PIM)committeehelpedcreatetheLynnEnglishschoolimprovement plan,andthedistrictalsoprovidesfreecoursesthatteachersmusttake.These

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LynnEnglishbelongsto theSalemState Collaborative,which providesfreeor reducedpriceclasses onbothcoursecontent andtechnology. courses include the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol44which instructors use to teach students whose first language is not Englishand Research for Better Teaching (RBT).45. The school also offers courses in classroommanagementtonewteachersatthebeginningoftheyear. Nearby Salem State College has further helped the school to improve instruction, Ms. Bonnevie said. Lynn English belongs to the Salem State Collaborative,46 which provides free or reducedprice classes on both course content and technology. The school also uses inhouse workshops to train teacherstousetechnologyintheclassroom.Overthepastcoupleofyears,we have gained a lot by using SMART Boards,47 the Senteo interactive response system, and the TI Navigator (which wirelessly networks each students graphing calculator to the classroom computer), she said. Those tools keep studentsengaged,whichminimizestheneedforclassroomdiscipline.

A NA LY ZI NG L EA RN IN G G A P S
Professionaldevelopment days,departmental meetings,andinhouse workshopsareusedto analyzestudentdata. Administrators and teachers rely on professional development days, departmentalmeetings,andinhouseworkshopstoanalyzeMCASdataandtry to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of our students, as well as strategies for improving instruction. We are a datadriven school, observed mathteacherMr.Serino. Forexample,thePIMteamanalyzed MCASresultstoidentify weakstrandsin the curriculum and student learning. To address those gaps, the team developed two binders of warmup problems for students in 9th and 10thgrade Algebra I and Geometry classes. Teachers also analyze students scores on midterms and finals to identify and address students weaknesses beforetheMCASmathexam.

44.ShelteredInstructionObservationProtocol(SIOP)isaresearchbasedobservation instrumentformeasuringshelteredinstructionandcanbeusedasamodelforlesson planning.Formoreinformation,pleaseseehttp://www.siopinstitute.net. 45.ResearchforBetterTeaching(RBT)isaschoolimprovementorganizationwith extensiveexperienceinteachingandleadership.Moreinformationcanbefoundat http://www.rbteach.com/rbteach2/index.html. 46.TheSalemStateCollaborativeisanorganizationofprofessionalinstructorsand administratorswhoarecommittedtotheenhancementofeducationinMassachusetts. Formoreinformation,pleaseseehttp://www.salemcollaborative.org. 47.TheSMARTBoardisaninteractivewhiteboard.Formoreinformation,pleasesee http://smarttech.com.

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E FFECTIVE T EACHER S UPERVISION


TheapproachtoinstructionalleadershipatLynnEnglishdiffersmarkedlyfrom thatatmanyotherschoolspresentingattheconference,remarkedMr.Serino. LynnEnglishisamuchmoretraditionalschool,andthusverydepartmental. The school does implement writing across the curriculum, and members of different departments do sometimes meet together. However, department heads provide most instructional leadership, he said. Lynn English formerly designatedsometeachersasmasterteachersandteacherleaders,butbudget cutsforcedtheschooltoeliminatethosejobs.Teachersdoleadworkshopson new curricula and approaches to instructionafter the department head approvesthetopics. As the Math Department head, Ms. Bonnevie conducts informal classroom visits,andmodelsthebehaviorandtechniquesthatsheexpects toseeinthe classroom.Youmayseeherwalkthroughyourclassroomatanygiventime ourdoorsarealwaysopen,saidMr.Serino.Thereisnothingthatshedoesn't know that goes on in her department, and pretty much in the building. colleaguesmayalsoenterclassroomsatanytimeweneverknowifit'stoask foradviceortojustsayhello. Teacherssubmittheirlessonplanstothedepartmentheadeverytwoweeks,he said. Teachers also submit student assessmentstraditional tests as well as open response (writing to a prompt, a component of the MCAS), even in mathtothedepartmentheadandtheprincipaleachquarter.Thedepartment administers common examsparticularly midterms and finalsto hold all teachers accountable to the samestandards, according to Ms. Bonnevie. The administratorsusethatinformationtogivefeedbacktoteachers. Administrators also complete a more formal evaluation twice a year for new teachers, and every two years for tenured teachers. Before 2004, evaluators simply wrote a 1, 2, or 3 next to each claim on a form used to evaluate teachers,accordingtoMs.Bonnevie. In 2004, the department created a new form that asks evaluators to write narrativesonteachersstrengthsandweaknessesinsevenmajorareas,listedin Exhibit9.4.Toensureeffectiveevaluation,thedistrictsponsorsRBTsObserving and Analyzing Teaching (OAT)course , which new administrators must take,
48.RBTsObservingandAnalyzingTeaching(OAT)courseisaleadershipcoursefor staffwhowriteobservationsforstaffevaluations.OATalsofocusesonthe developmentofclassroomobservationandconferencingskills.
48

Theschoolimplements writingacrossthe curriculum.

Ourclassroomdoors arealwaysopen.

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Ms. Bonnevie said. OAT courses are leadership courses for staff who write observations for staff evaluations. OAT also focuses on the development of classroomobservationandconferencingskills. Exhibit9.4 SevenMajorAreasinNewTeacherEvaluation

Source:BasedonLynnEnglishspresentationtotheAGIconference

D EVELOPING T RUST WITHIN A D EPARTMENT


Teachers in each department, including the Math Department, design student assessments, according to Mr. Serino. However, schedules do not include common prep time, so teachers must be relentless in finding other opportunitiessuch as lunchtimefor professional discussions. Although teacherssometimesusesuchinformalgatheringstoventtheirfrustrations,they often turn into thoughtful discussions, he said. A teacher might say, Well, have you tried this with the kids, or have you presented it this way? Those conversations,whichhappenallthetime,helpnewandoldteachersalike. Mathteachers,mostofwhomareintheirthirtiesandforties,havedevelopeda highdegreeofmutualrespectandtrust,heattested.Wedotrusteachother to present materials, and we do ask each other questions. We don't mind making mistakes. Whats more, because math teachers have a great relationshipandtheirstudentsscorewellontheMCAS,fewteachersleavethe department,accordingtoMr.Serino.Infact,peoplearetryingtogetin. Teachers can also seek support from the department head or anyone in the school:It'saverysupportiveenvironment,hesaid.Thispartlyreflectsthefact 128|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Themathteachershave developedahighdegree ofmutualrespectand trust.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
that Lynn English has a very good administration, Ms. Bonnevie said: They are consistent, they are immediate, and they communicate with teachers. Facultyin theMathDepartmentalsoactively participateinoffsiteworkshops oninstruction,accordingtoMr.Serino.Thisparticipationreflectsthefactthat weareallfriendsandthefeelingthatwearealltogetherinonebattle.

R E C RU I T I NG A N D R E TA IN I NG T A L E NT
Mr.Payzantasked,Wheredoyougettheteachersforhardtofillfields?How do you induct them? And most importantly, how do you retain them? Retaining new teachers is difficult in the face of budget cuts, Mr. Serino admitted. However, the loyalty of existing staff reflects the fact that they receive professional development and encouragement, and the fact that camaraderiepermeatesthedepartmentandtheschool. Many Lynn English teachers are Lynn residents or attended the high school themselves,mathteacherMr.Maillouxreplied.Forexample,threeofthefour presentersaregraduatesoftheschoolwhofoundtheirwayback.Acoworker atanotherworkplacewhoisalsoagraduateofLynnEnglishwouldliketoteach math there, as would many current students, he said: They think enough of thebuildingandthestafftowanttoworkattheschool.

Theloyaltyofexisting staffreflectsthefactthat theyreceiveprofessional developmentand encouragement.

E N CO U RAG I N G R E CA LCI T RA N T T EAC H ERS


Mr.Fergusonaskedhowthedepartmentdealswithteacherswhodonotwant togoalongwiththeprogram,butwhoalsodonotwanttoleave.Canyougive usanexampleofhowthatconversationmightgo?Thedepartmentresponds toteacherswhoarereluctanttoimprovetheirinstructionbyencouragingthem and trying to win their heart, Ms. Bonnevie noted. We give those teachers responsibilities, get them involved, and we also provide professional development. She has found thatteachers do not feelrespected when they are ordered to implement change, and they have no input. Teachers feel respected when they are involved in the process of change and they are allowedtogiveinput. AsvicepresidentoftheLynnTeachersUnion,Mr.Maillouxsaidhehadalways thought that if you have a bad teacher in your building, an administrator somewhereisntdoingtheirjob.Anadministratorfacingarecalcitrantteacher couldcomparethescoresofhisorherstudentsonastandardizedtestwiththe scoresofotherteachersstudents.Hardevidencewouldconvincetheteacher thatwhattheschoolisdoingisworking,sogetonboardoryouaregoingto hurtthewholeprocess,notjustyourself. 129|P a g e

Teachersfeelrespected whentheyareinvolved intheprocessofchange andareallowedtogive input.

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Ifyouhaveabad teacherinyourbuilding, anadministrator somewhereisntdoing theirjob.

AL I T T L E B I T O F F R EE DO M G O ES A L O NG W AY
Mr.Fergusonaskedwhetherteachersbalkedatgivingstudentsthesameexams yearafteryear.Mathteachershavebeenusingdifferenttextbookstoteachthe same subject, Ms. Bonnevie noted, partly because of turnover in Math Departmentheads,andpartlybecauseshedoesnothavethefundstobuynew textbooksforallclasses.Theschoolreceives$60,000ayeartobuytextbooksfor allsubjectareas,andonly$6000isallocatedtotheMathDepartment.Shemight purchaseanewsetofbooksforoneAlgebraIandoneAlgebraIIclasseachyear. To ensure that all classes on a given subject cover material specified by state frameworks,andthatstudentsdowellonMCASandNEASexams,shesplits14 attendeesatdepartmentmeetingsintogroupsofthreeorfourtoexamineeach textbook. Teachersdoincludecommonmultiplechoicequestionsonmidtermsandfinals, she said. However, given that each textbook presents each subject a little bit differently, she allows teachers to develop their own shortanswer and open response questions for their exams. This little bit of freedom prevents pushback from teachers, she said. To support student learning, math teachers also provide a syllabus at the beginning a course, based on a department template,sostudentsknowwhattheyaregettinginto,Ms.Bonneviesaid.

H O W T E CHN O LO GY H EL P S
Mr. Ferguson asked the panelists to name one aspect of their job that they would give up their firstborn to keep. Mr. Serino pointed to cuttingedge educationaltechnology.IlovemySMARTBoard,IlovemySenteo.Thekidslove it,theyliketakingatestonittheyliketo pushbuttons.It'sa newage,andit helps us keep them on task. The Math Department requires teachers to incorporate such technology into the classroom, Mr. Serino said. These tools include the Geometers Sketchpad,49 which helps engage students, added Mr. Mailloux.Ifourtoysarebetterthantheirtoys,studentsareprobablymoreapt topayattentiontousandtobeinvolvedinthelessonfortheday.Technology produces accidental learning, including the side effects of knowledge retentionandcorrectanswersontests.

IlovemySMARTBoard, IlovemySenteo.The kidsloveit,theylike takingatestonit.

49.TheGeometersSketchpadisaninteractivegeometrysoftwareprogramforexploring Euclideangeometry,algebra,calculus,andotherareasofmathematics.Formore information,pleaseseehttp://www.dynamicgeometry.com.

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CASESTUDY: NAPERVILLE CENTRALAND NORTHHIGH SCHOOLS NAPERVILLE,IL

10. N APERVILLE C ENTRAL AND N ORTH H IGH S CHOOLS (S ESSION A)


P R E S EN T E RS :
JodiWirt,Assoc.SuperintendentforInstruction,NapervilleDistrict203 AndyMcWhirter,ScienceDepartmentChair,NapervilleNorth

TEACHERLED CURRICULUMAND ASSESSMENTS SUPPORTEDBY EFFECTIVEPLCS

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JonSaphier,ResearchforBetterTeaching RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit10.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 9.6% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

Naperville North Naperville Central IL(all grades)

73.4%

5.2%

5.0%

15.4%

1.0%

79.4%

4.2%

2.4%

13.6%

0.4%

5.4%

53.3%

19.1%

20.8%

4.1%

2.7%

42.9%

NumberofStudents:NapervilleNorth3,116,NapervilleCentral3,029
Source:IllinoisStateBoardofEducation,InteractiveIllinoisReportCard (http://iirc.niu.edu)

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


NapervilleCentralandNorthhighschoolseachwithsome3,000students serve an affluent, largely white community outside Chicago. Naperville has beenaconsistentlyhighperformingdistrict,buildingitssuccessonaprocess through which teacherled steering committees write the entire curriculum andstudentassessments. The high schools decided to pursue that approach after choosing Understanding by Design50 as an instructional framework. Under that framework, schools converge on the big ideas that they want students to learn and the critical questions that they want students to consider. The schools then create study units and teaching materials that encourage students to engage those ideas and to develop their own answers to those questions. Different from most schools in this report, Napervilles high schools are not very diverse. Nonetheless, they are special. They have achieved at a consistently high level for the past decade. In addition, as their story in this report shows, they have achieved an exceptionally high level of professional communityamongtheadults. Exhibit 10.2 on the following page shows that the proficiency trend for both Napervillehighschoolsisflatataveryhighlevel.In2009,theschoolsranked 21stand27thamong653highschoolsonthestatemathexam,asindicatedby thearrowonExhibit10.3.NapervilleranksevenhigheramongIllinoisschools onACTscores,at12thand13th.

50.GrantP.WigginsandJayMcTighe,2005.UnderstandingbyDesign.Associationfor SupervisionandCurriculumDesign.

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Exhibit10.2 11thGradeTrendsinIllinoisStateExamPerformance

Source:IllinoisStateBoardofEducation,InteractiveIllinoisReportCard (http://isbe.net/research/htmls/report_card.htm)

Exhibit10.3

11thGradeIllinoisMathExamScores2009

Source:IllinoisStateBoardofEducation,InteractiveIllinoisReportCard (http://isbe.net/research/htmls/report_card.htm)

T HE T URNING P OINT
ThedefiningmomentatNapervilleCentralandNorthhighschools,accordingto Mrs.Wirt,occurredinthelate1990s,whenthestateannouncedthattheACT would become the Illinois test for high school students. Although about 75 percentofNapervillehighschoolstudentshadalreadybeentakingtheACT,the schoolshadnotreliedonthattesttobeaccountabletothecommunity.

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Naperville administrators responded by using the Schlechty Center School ImprovementProcess,51whichasksaschooltolookatitscapacitytofocuson students, and to become a learningcenteredas opposed to a teacher centeredorganization. That process led administrators to ask: What do we wantourstudentstobewhentheygraduate? Through a visioning process, the administrators decided that the schools missionwhichlaterbecamethedistrictsmissionistocreatestudentswho are collaborative workers, selfdirected learners, quality producers, and community contributors. The administrators also decided that the schools needed to protect students from adverse consequences, give them choices, andprovideaffiliationandaffirmation. Theschoolsmission whichhasbecomethe districtsmissionisto createstudentswhoare collaborativeworkers, selfdirectedlearners, qualityproducers,and communitycontributors. Afterdevelopingthemissionstatement,administratorsshareditwithteachers. Today,studentsthemselvesatbothNapervillehighschoolsrefertothemission statement, so the mission has moved from administrators to teachers to students.Studentsmaynotexperienceeveryaspectofthemissioneveryday, but every unitof study mustsupport it.That mission is a powerful vehicle in gettingstudentstocometoschool. The mission statement defines not only the kind of education Naperville is trying to provide, but also the type of instruction that has to happen in the classrooms,Mrs.Wirtsaid.Thestafflookedatthelevelofstudentengagement and asked: Do we have a guaranteed and viable curriculum? How is the learning environment fulfilling the mission and helping students acquire the knowledgeandskillswewantthemtohave?

T HE U NDERSTANDING BY D ESIGN F RAMEWORK


To answer those questions, administrators and teachers began using Understanding by Design as a framework for developing a new curriculum. Thisframeworkisinquirybased:itinvitesstudentsintothelearningprocessby having them consider important questions that do not necessarily have predetermined answers. The Naperville staff wanted students to understand that every time they considered a question, the answer probably would and should change, and that their answers should deepen their understanding of thecontent.

51.FormoreinformationontheSchlechtyCenterSchoolImprovementProcess,please seehttp://www.schlechtycenter.org.

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T EAC HE R L E D C U R R I CU LU M D E V E LO P M EN T
A steering committee for each subject area includes teacher representatives from both high schools, and those teachers write the curriculum. Each committeealsoincludesdepartmentcoordinatorsfrombothschools,whohelp steer teachers down the road they will eventually travel.However, the entire curriculumdevelopmentprocess,illustratedinExhibit10.4,isteacherled,and thathelpsensurebuyinfromthefaculty,accordingtoMr.McWhirter,Science Departmentchair. Thecurriculum committeesusually worktwototwo andahalfyears beforeteachers implementthestudy units. Eachcurriculumcommitteestartsbyexaminingstateandnationalstandardsin its content area. For example, a science committee might look at standards from the National Science Foundation, and the Atlas on Scientific Reasoning from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The committee decides how to apply those standards to Naperville students: it translatesthestandards intotheschoolsownlanguage. The committeethen develops Understanding by Design units that fulfill those standards. The curriculum committees usually work two to twoandahalf years before teachersimplementthestudyunits. Exhibit10.4 CurriculumDevelopmentProcess

Thecurriculum developmentprocess haschangedthe staffsbeliefsabout thetypesoflearning experiencesstudents shouldhave.


Source:BasedonNapervillespresentationtotheAGIconference

Asleadersineachcontentareabeganrevisingthecurriculum,someteachers protested that the Understanding by Design framework would not work for their subject. It might have worked for math, but it's not going to work for worldlanguages.Infact,duringthelast10years,committeeshavereworked allmajorcoursesintoUnderstandingbyDesignunitsofstudy. Overall, the curriculum development process has changed the staffs beliefs aboutthetypesoflearningexperiencesstudentsshouldhave,andtheprocess hashelpedguaranteethatallstudentsarebeingheldtothesameperformance standards,Mrs.Wirtsaid.

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I M P ROV I NG A S S E S S M EN T
As administrators and teachers began using Understanding by Design, they realizedthattheyneededtoconsiderthequalityofstudentassessment,aswell as whether the assessment approach protected students from adverse consequences. This meant assessing student learning rather than simply assessingthecompletionofassignments. Tofulfillthisgoal,eachcurriculumcommitteecreatestheassessmentswhich includelabsandstudentprojectsaswellastestsforeveryunitofstudy.The process enables teacher representatives on each committee to have spontaneousconversationsabouttheassessmentswithotherteachersintheir schools. For example, when those teachers ask, Who wrote this test? a teacherleadercanrespond,Well,Idid.Andthathelpscreatebuyin. Mr.Murnanenotedthathavingteachersdevelopcommonassessmentsistime consuming. It is hard to do well, and many assessments are already commercially available. He asked whether the schools find the process of creatingtheirownassessmentscritical,andhowlongthatprocesstakes. Ittakesalotoftime,Mr.McWhirteracknowledged.However,necessityforced the schools down that road. When a curriculum committee developed a combined Physics and Earth Science class for freshmen, for example, finding assessments for such a course was not easy. Convincing science teachers to move beyond multiplechoice tests was also difficult, according to Mrs. Wirt, because they thought that other types of assessments would be too time consuming and encompass too much writing and speaking. In this case, teachersfirsthadtoagreeontheactualtaskstheywantedtoassignstudents, andonwhatthesetaskswouldtellteachersaboutthestudentsknowledgeof science. Mr. McWhirter admitted that members of the curriculum committees are not necessarily great test writers. However, creating the assessments not only ensures teacher buyinit also provides the specific data on student learning thattheschoolsneed. Developingtheschoolsownassessmentsisalsoimportantbecausewhenthe schoolscommittedtotheirmission,theychangedtheirimprovementplansto emphasize effective instruction and student engagement rather than a percentageincreaseintestscores,Mrs.Wirtnoted.Thismeantstaffmembers had to figure out whether the schools were really engaging students and teaching them complex thinking. Most assessments on the market do not 136|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Creatingthe assessmentsnotonly ensuresteacherbuy initalsoprovides thespecificdataon studentlearningthat theschoolsneed.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
measure that, so the schools decided to invest in developing their own assessments. Nonetheless, one of the schools accountability measures states that if the schools focus on effective instruction, they should see a certain percentage increaseinstudentsscoresontheIllinoisStandardsAchievementTestandthe ACT,Mrs.Wirtsaid.

I M P LE M E NT I NG T HE N E W C U R RI C U LU M
Once the committees have designed the units, they choose classroom resources,createtheassessments,andthenmovetoimplementation.Thetwo highschools relyonsubstitutes toallowteacherstoleavetheir classroomsto workonthecommittees. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)comprised of teachers in each department in each schoolthen meet once a month on latearrival days to talk about how students are doing on the assessments. Based on that information,teachersinaPLCmightdecidetoreteachsomematerialoraska steeringcommitteetorevisethecurriculumforthefollowingyear. The PLCs focus on gathering data that tells teachers what to do next in their classrooms,Mrs.Wirtsaid.ThePLCsalsouseprofessionaldevelopmenttohelp teachers understand how to give students specific feedback. For example, a teacher may write on a lab report that a student was a collaborative worker, andgiveexamples. ThePLCsandcurriculumcommitteesalsorevisestudentassessments.However, at some point the PLCs must develop consensus among teachers that assessmentswillremainintactforatleasttwoorthreeyears,sotheschoolscan getbaselinedataonstudentlearning.

PLCsuseprofessional developmenttohelp teachersunderstand howtogivestudents specificfeedback.

R U NN I N G E F F EC TI V E PLCM E ET I NG S
Theschoolsinvestin facilitationskills:they trainteacherleadershow torunPLCmeetings andemphasizethat meetingsmatter. Mr.Saphierasked,Sonowthecurriculumisoutthere,andthefourofuswho teach freshman algebra are looking at the probability problem that eight kids gotwrongandeightotherstudentsgotright,andwearetryingtodecidehow muchmoreexplanationweneedtogivestudents,howdoleadersensurethat thePLCmeetingsthatdosuchworkgowell?Thatprocessdoesn't happenby itself. The schools invest in facilitation skills, Mrs. Wirt answered: they train teacher leaders how to run meetingsand emphasize that meetings matter. 2009AGIConferenceReport 137|P a g e

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
Administratorsalsomodelwhateffectivemeetingslooklike.Forexample,when instructional coordinators meet once a week, they create an agenda that includesbothaninstructionalandabusinesscomponent.Acarefullyplanned approachhasbecomepartoftheculture. Mr.Saphierasked,Wholeadsthosemeetings?Principalsusuallyleadthem, Mr.McWhirterreplied. Hundredsofschoolsalloverthecountrygivetheirteachersthetaskofsitting downanddoingthatanditdoesntwork,saidMr.Saphier.I'vebeentomany such meetings myself, and nobody is really in charge of keeping the meeting focused,andthereisnokindoflogicandunderstanding. The instructional coordinators meet with teacher leaders to plan the PLC meetings, according to Mr. McWhirter. The coordinators also sometimes retrieve information from the schools data warehouse so the teacher leaders are prepared. Some teachers teach more than one subject, so creating an agenda ahead of time and taking notes enables a teacher who is attending anothermeetingtofindoutwhatoccurred. I want to emphasize that PLCs do not run themselves, even if you train the leaders, Mr. Saphier said. There has to be a shepherd: it can be the department chair or the principal. That shepherdwho attends the meetings on a rotating basisis sometimes an admiring witness, sometimes an active participant,andsometimesdeliversteamtherapy.Heorsheusuallyprovides teamtherapy,Mr.McWhirterobserved.

C HA NG I NG T H E G R A D IN G S Y S T E M
As the curriculum committees and PLCs revamped assessments, they also began to take a look at the schools grading system to come to a shared understanding of what a grade means. For example, what does an A mean in one teachers science class, compared with an A from the teacher across the hall? Toanswerthisquestion,eachPLCdevelopedaGradingPositioningStatement, orGPS.TeacherssharetheGPSwithstudents,whichprovidesteacherswithan opportunitytotalkaboutwhatmasterymeansinagivensubject.Thisprocess helpedteachersrealizethattheyshouldnotsimplytellstudentsthattheyare not meeting standards, but also explain what they can do to meet those standards. For example, the schools allow students to repeat assessments if theycompletecertainsteps.ThisapproachhelpsNapervillefulfillitsmissionof emphasizinglearningandprotectingstudentsfromadverseconsequences. 2009AGIConferenceReport

EachPLCdevelopeda GradingPositioning Statement,orGPS. TeacherssharetheGPS withstudents,which givesteachersanop portunitytotalkabout whatmasterymeansin agivensubject.

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This year, a group of teachers realized that on a 908070600 grading scale, there is a big drop from 60 to zero, and that affects student motivation: if studentsaretryingtomakeupazero,theyhavealongwaytogo.Afreshman scienceteamthereforebeganusinga4pointgradingsystem,inwhich4and3 indicatemastery,2and1indicatelessmastery,andzeroindicatesnomastery. Asteachersusedthatgradingsystemoverthecourseofayear,theybeganto understanditbetterandhadrichconversationswithstudentsaboutwhateach grade means. However, communicating the new system to parents proved challenging,becausetheygrewupwiththe90807060gradingscale.

T AKING THE N APERVILLE A PPROACH C OUNTYWIDE


As the curriculum development process matured, Naperville high school staff beganworkingwithotherschooldistrictsinDuPageCounty.Thatprocesshas spurred department coordinators and teachers throughout the district to engage in conversations about what student knowledge should look like at everygrade. Participants in countywide curriculum teams have long conversations about whatessentialunderstandingstudentsineachsubjectneed,andhowschools canassessthat.Theteamsthendevelopacountywidetesttoassesshowwell students are doing in each content area. Department coordinators again organizeandhelpsteerthisprocess,butteachersdothework.Theteamsthen lookatdatafromstudentsteststodeterminetheareasaparticularschooldid wellinandthoseinwhichitdidnot.Theteamstalkaboutwhatlabandother activities they can use to engage students and help them improve. That professionalconversationhashelpedbroadentheNapervilleapproachtoother schooldistrictsinDuPageCounty.

S TRENGTHENING B USINESS P ARTNERSHIPS


The curriculum development process has also helped strengthen Napervilles business partnerships, because the high schools ask business people to help developperformancestandardsforthestudents.Representativesfromvarious businessesalsohelpwiththeassessmentprocessbyevaluatingtheknowledge thatstudentshaveacquired,forexamplebycritiquingthemarketingplansthat studentscreate,andthathashelpedbuildcommunitybuyin. Mr. Murnane asked whether business people come to the school or bring students to their workplaces. According to Mrs. Wirt, they do both. For example,alawfirmhelpsrunamocktrialintheschools,inwhichlocaljudges 2009AGIConferenceReport 139|P a g e

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
preside over cases; marketing employees help students develop marketing plans;andcompaniesalsoofferstudentinternships.Sotheschoolsmaintaina numberofrelationshipswithlocalbusinessesandotherprofessionals.

D O T EACHERS B URN O UT ?
According to Mr. Murnane, some of the lighthouse schools (by which he meantKIPPSchools)relyonyoungteacherswhoarewillingtowork24/7,until theyhavetheirownchildren.Atthatpointthoseteacherscannotsustainsucha schedule.Heaskedwhethertheteachingjobsintheirschoolsaresustainable. Someofmyteachersareyoungeagerbeavers,saidMr.McWhirter.However, he noted, 2530year veterans do the same amount of work. In fact, some teachers accept major assignments at the schools after they retire from teaching.Workinghardisjustpartofthecultureoftheschools. Mr.FergusonaskedwhethertheNapervillehighschoolswouldbeassuccessful if they were dealing with an aggressive teachers union and facing the possibility of classaction lawsuits. Mrs. Wirt responded that the district does haveafairlyaggressiveteachersunion.However,becauseNapervilleteachers aresoinvolvedindevelopingthecurriculum,thedecisionmakingandeffortto implement it are not topdown. So although administrators face some union criticism, they have built strong relationships with teachers. Neither teachers noradministratorsareholdingtheschoolsback,shesaid.

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CASESTUDY: NAPERVILLENORTH ANDCENTRALHIGH SCHOOLS NAPERVILLE,IL

11. N APERVILLE C ENTRAL AND N ORTH H IGH S CHOOLS (S ESSION B)


P R E S EN T E RS :
TimWierenga,AssistantPrincipalforCurriculumInstruction,NapervilleNorth ScottMiller,MathInstructionalCoordinator,NapervilleCentral

LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGYFOR BETTER INSTRUCTION

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
KarinChenoweth,TheEducationTrust ThomasPayzant,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

TwoleadersoftheMathDepartmenttalkedabouthow their district, schools, and department emphasize the professional development of teachers, and rely on cuttingedge technologies to support both teacher collaboration and student engagement. This was the second of two presentations at the conference by Napervillerepresentatives.

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

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Avoidmakingteachers feelasthoughthey havetoputonadog andponyshoweach timeinstructional leadersobservetheir classes.

U SING THE C HARLOTTE D ANIELSON M ODEL


OneofthemostimportantshiftsattheNapervillehighschoolsoccurredwhen theyadoptedanewmodelforevaluatingteachers,accordingtoMr.Wierenga, assistantprincipalforcurriculuminstructionatNapervilleNorth.Thatmodelis based on Charlotte Danielsons Framework for Teaching,52 which focuses on fourdomainsofteaching: 1. PlanningandPreparation 2. TheClassroomEnvironment 3. Instruction 4. ProfessionalResponsibilities TheDanielsonframeworkhasspurredtheNapervillehighschoolstofocuson boosting student engagement in the classroom, rather than on scripting teachers activities. As part of the Danielson approach, instructional leaders focus on staff development and growth during the formal process for evaluatingteachers.Thekeyistoavoidmakingteachersfeelasthoughthey havetoputonadogandponyshoweachtimeinstructionalleadersobserve theirclasses,accordingtoMr.Wierenga. The evaluation process shownin Exhibit 11.1 on the next page begins with a meeting between evaluators and an individual teacher, in which participants setgoalsdesignedtosupportthatteachersprofessionalgrowth.Then,before evaluatorsobservethatteacherintheclassroom,theparticipantsgatherata preconference to talk about how the teacher might modify his or her instructional practice to better focus on the needs of individual students. Instructional leaders then observe the teacher during a full 50minute class period. Afterward the teacher completes a selfreflection. The leaders and teachersthengatheratapostconferencetodiscusstheteacherspractice, withtheteacherdoingalotofthetalking,Mr.Wierengaexplained.

Instructionalleaders observetheteacher duringafull50minute classperiod.Afterward theteachercompletes aselfreflection.

52.TheFrameworkforTeachingisaresearchbasedsetofcomponentsofinstruction, alignedtotheInterstateNewTeacherAssessmentandSupportConsortium(INTASC) standards.Inthisframework,thecomplexactivityofteachingisdividedinto22 components(and76smallerelements)clusteredintofourdomainsofteaching responsibility.Formoreinformationvisitthewebsiteathttp:// www.danielsongroup.org.

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Exhibit11.1 TheTeacherEvaluationProcess

Source:BasedonNapervillespresentationtotheAGIconference

M EASURING S TUDENT E NGAGEMENT


Tohelpmeasurestudentengagement,instructionalleadersalsoconductfocus walks, which are separate from the formal teacher evaluation process. DevelopedbyJerryValentineoftheUniversityofMissouriColombia,53afocus walk relies on a team of practitioners that visits every classroom for just a minuteortwo,accordingtoMr.Wierenga.Theteamnoteswhatisoccurringin each classroomwhether teacherled instruction, teacherled worksheets, studenttostudentconversation,orworkbystudentteams. The focus walk team also observes whether and how students are using technologies such as graphing calculators and the mathematics visualization software Geometers Sketchpad,54 which students can use to visualize and investigate mathematical concepts, according to Mr. Miller, math instructional coordinator at Naperville Central. The observers jot down a measurement and move on to the next classroom. Over the course of a day, a team may conduct as many as 200 brief observations, which together provide data on studentengagementthroughouttheschool.
53.FormoreinformationonDr.JerryValentine,MiddleLevelLeadershipCenterat UniversityofMissourivisitthewebsiteathttp://www.mllc.org/. 54.FormoreinformationontheGeometersSketchpadvisithttp:// www.dynamicgeometry.com/.

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A DO P T I N G I N TE R ACT IV E W H IT E B OA RD S
TheNapervillehighschoolsrelyonseveralothertechnologiesbesidesgraphing calculatorsandtheGeometersSketchpadtosupportstudentengagement.For example, the math faculty began using interactive white board technology six yearsago,whenMr.Millerbecamedepartmentchair,hesaid.Amathteacher who was also a football coach had received a grant to use the interactive SMART Board to coach his players. After finding the technology spectacular, Mr.MillerdecidedtousefundsdesignatedfornewfurnituretomountSMART Boardsonclassroomwallsasthatwouldqualifythemaspiecesoffurniture. Rather than giving the first SMART Boards55 to novice teacherswho will do whateveryousay,astheyarenottenuredMr.Millerdecidedtointroducethe technology into the classrooms of experienced teachers. After installing a SMART Board in one teachers classroom over the summer, he spoke to that teacherbeforeshereturnedtoherclassroomatthestartoftheschoolyear.I said,Sharon,Ineedtogiveyousomereallygoodnewsandsomeotherreally goodnews,accordingtoMr.Miller.You'vegotanewpieceoftechnologyin yourclassroom. AndofcourseIcouldseethefrustratedlookstartingonherface.SoIsaid,We aregoingtotrainyoutousethistechnology,andit'sgoingtobespectacular you'rereallygoingtolikeit.ThenIasked,Howdoyoufeelaboutthat?And she said, I really want to hurt you. However, within two weeks, she came intomyofficeandsaid,Ifyoutakethattechnologyoutofmyclassroom,Iwill hurtyou. UsingtheSMARTBoardtechnologyisnotdifficultthelearningcurveisvery short, Mr. Miller noted. The department has nevertheless provided as much subjectspecific professional development as possible, to ensure that teachers usethetechnologytointeractwithandengagestudents.Mr.Millerexpectedto ultimatelyinstallSMARTBoardsinabouthalftheclassroomsinthedepartment. However,bytheendofthesecondmonthoftheschoolyear,everyteacherin the Math Departmentwanted one, and nowalmostevery single classroomat NapervilleCentralhasaSMARTBoard.

UsingtheSMARTBoard technologyisnotdiffi cultthelearningcurve isveryshort.

EveryteacherintheMath Departmentwantedone, andnowalmostevery singleclassroomat NapervilleCentralhasa SMARTBoard.

55.FormoreinformationonSMARTBoardinteractivewhiteboardsvisithttp:// smarttech.com/.

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T H E P O W ER O F E L E CTRO NI C S TU D E NT R E SPO N SE S YSTE M S


The department has also adopted response systems such as Senteo56 handheld wireless electronic devices that allow students to transmit their answersonquizzesandteststoteachers.Thesystemgivesteachersimmediate feedback on the progress of individual students, and thereby helps teachers tailorinstructiontotheneedsoftheclass. Studentssignouta laptoptorecordshort podcastsonhowthey aresolvingtheirmath problems.Teacherscan actuallyhearstudents explanationsand reasoning. Another benefit of using Senteo is decreasing test anxiety for students. One student, for example, confided to Mr. Miller that he sometimes passes out or throwsupbeforetakingassessments.AfterusingSenteo,thatstudentsanxiety subsided:hewouldeagerlyask,Mr.Miller,arewegoingtotakeaquiztodayor not? The department also regularly wheels carts with enough laptops for every two studentsintoclassrooms.Studentssignoutalaptoptorecordshortpodcastson how they are solving their math problems, he said. Now, instead of simply grading those problems, teachers are actually hearing students explanations andreasoning.

L INKING P HYSICAL A CTIVITY TO M ENTAL A LERTNESS AND A CHIEVEMENT


The Physical Education (PE) Department, in collaboration with the Math and CommunicationArtsDepartments,beganrelyingonheartratemonitorsseveral years ago as a novel approach to helping struggling students, Mr. Miller recounted. One October, the state government announced that it would begin requiringstudentstotakemoremathtograduateinparticular,topassAlgebra I.Althoughthenewrequirementwouldtakeeffectthefollowingyear,Naperville decided to implement it immediately. However, because many students had beenfailingthatcourse,thehighschoolsalsodecidedthatweneededtomake somedramaticchanges in howwe helpedstudents, to getthem ready to pass AlgebraI,Mr.Millersaid. These changes actually began with students who were below grade level in reading,Mr.Millerobserved.Theirparentshadcomplainedbecausetheschools wererequiringthosestudents totake aliteracy courseratherthananelective. After the schools found that students who were below grade level in reading were also below grade level in math, the Math, Communication Arts, and PE
56.FormoreinformationonSMARTinteractiveresponsesystemsvisithttp:// www2.smarttech.com/st/enUS/Products/SMART+Response/default.htm.

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Department chairs decided to develop another approach. They decided that thosestudentswouldtakeaPEclassdirectlybeforealiteratureormathclass. PEinstructorsuseacardiovascularworkouttoraisestudentsheartrates,and alsointegratereadingandmathstrategiesintotheworkout.Forexample,inthe gymnasium you'll see students on scooters building sentence structures by grabbing pieces of sentences or building equations by grabbing at math expressions on cards, he said. PE teachers use heart rate monitors to track students cardiovascular workout, and link their heart rate to results on standardized tests in reading and math. The results have been tremendous, Mr.Millerattested. Thetestsscoresofparticipatingstudentsaretwotofourtimeshigherthanthe scoresofacontrolgroupofstrugglingstudentswhodonottakePEimmediately before academic classes, he said. A group composed of PE teachers, communication arts teachers, math teachers, and instructional coordinators is nowcollaboratingtoexpandtheprogram,whichhasproducedpositiveresults forseveralyears. TheapproachbuildsontheworkofDr.JohnRatey,57AssociateClinicalProfessor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, who has studied the impact of cardiovascular activity on learning and achievement. Both high schools have nowembracedphysicalactivityasakeysupportforlearning. Teacherstalktostudents aboutspecificconcepts theyarestrugglingwith, andtootherteachers aboutstudentneeds. For example, we train our students and our teachers to do brain breaks duringastandardizedtest.Mr.Millersaid.Thoseexercisesgetbloodflowing back to the brain. Students are then ready to work for another 15 or 20 minutes,becausetheirattentionspanisaboutequivalenttotheirage. TheNapervillehighschoolshavealsotakenotherstepstoensurethatstudents pass Algebra I, according to Mr. Miller. For example, teachers now talk with individualstudentsaboutspecificconceptswithwhichtheyarestruggling,and tootherteachersaboutthatstudentsneeds.Together,sucheffortsenabledthe departmenttoimmediatelycutourfailurerateforAlgebraIinhalf.

Bothhighschoolshave embracedphysical activityasakeysupport forlearning.

L EVERAGING T ECHNOLOGY TO C OLLABORATE


Thedistrict,theschools,andtheMathDepartmentalsopromotetechnologies thathelpteacherscollaborate.Forexample,11yearsagobothNapervillehigh
57.Dr.Ratey,AssociateClinicalProfessorofPsychiatryattheHarvardMedicalSchool,is theauthorofSpark:TheRevolutionaryNewScienceofExerciseandtheBrain,Little, BrownandCompany,2008.Formoreinformationvisithiswebsiteathttp:// www.johnratey.com.

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schoolsgaveeveryteacheralaptop.However,theteachersreceivedverylittle training,sotheymostlyusedthecomputersforemail,Mr.Millersaid.

A N O N L I N E P O RTA L FO R S H A RI NG M AT E R IA LS
Instructionalleaders andteacherspost resourcesusedin everyunitinevery subject,includingtests andquizzes,foruseby otherteachers. To address that problem, the district adopted Microsoft Office SharePoint58 as an online portal for sharing teaching materials. Instructional leaders and teacherspostresourcesusedineveryunitineverysubject,includingtestsand quizzes, on the SharePoint server for use by other teachers. The high schools plantoaddvideosofmodellessonsforeachcoursetothesite. Mr. Ferguson asked whether every teacher posts all his or her materials and studentassignmentsonSharePoint.No,theydon't,saidMr.Miller.However, if a department is implementing a new curriculum, the curriculum team ensures that all the materials it has designed are online. Instructional leaders also encourage faculty members to post materials online for others to share. Instructional leaders further suggest that teachers adapt those shared materials,Mr.Millersaid.Theyask,Howdoyouownthatpieceofcurriculum thatyouwilluseinyourclassroom?

AD ATA W A R E HO U S E
District leaders also created a data warehouse. Teachers formerly used machinereadable tally sheets to crunch data on student achievement. However,thatsystemdidnotallowteachersandotherstaffmemberstoeasily determinehowindividualstudentsacrossalargedistrictwerefaring,Mr.Miller said. The warehouse does allow staff members to analyze districtwide final exams andotherassessmentstopinpointthespecificstrandsofknowledgewithwhich each student is struggling. The warehouse also includes demographic information on each student, including how long he or she has lived in the district,andwhichinterventionshaveorhavenothelpedthatstudentsucceed. That information enables teachers to determine the best approach to supportingeachstudent.

T EAC HE RS AS D E PA RTM E N T T E CH C O N S U LTA NT S


Tofurthersupportbothstudentsandteachers,theNapervillehighschoolshave transformedthewaytheystafftechnologypositions.WhenMr.Millerarrived,
58.Microsoft,andSharePointareeitherregisteredtrademarksortrademarksof MicrosoftCorporationintheUnitedStatesand/orothercountries.

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henoted,Wehadonetechdirectorfortheentireschool,andsomeonewho satinalaballdaylongintheForeignLanguageDepartment.Itwasthesame wayoveratNapervilleNorth. Today one teacher in each department acts as a tech consultant for that departmentduringadailyreleaseperiod.Thismeansthatteacherswhoare havingtroubleusingatechnologyintheclassroomcanobtainimmediatehelp. Thetechconsultantalsocoachesotherteachersduringdepartmentalmeetings inusingtechnologyespeciallyinhowtogetstudentsupandinteractingwith theSMARTBoard,Mr.Millersaid. Wehavealsotransformedteacherinstitutedays,accordingtoMr.Miller,after teachers revolted against professional development run by administrators. Todayteachersdesignthosesessions,includingsessionsdevotedtointeractive technology. In fact, the schools provide as much professional development as possible, trying to squeeze out extra timein any way, shape or form, and payingteachersfortheirtime.

Wehavetransformed teacherinstitutedays. Teachersdesignthese sessions,including sessionsdevotedto interactivetechnology.

M ENTORING AND T RUSTING T EACHERS


Mr.PayzantwantedtoknowaboutNapervillesstrategiesformanaginghuman capital.Wheredoyougettheteachersforthehardtofillfields?Howdoyou inductthem?Andmostimportantly,howdoyouretainthem?heasked. Whennewteachers arrivetheysensethe strongfocusonstudents, andthatteachersare supportedandexpected togrow. Whennewteachersarriveatthehighschools,theysensethestrongfocuson students, and also that teachers are supported and expected to grow, Mr. Wierengaresponded.Becausethat'sexciting,teacherstendtostayfortheir careers.Thestatealsoprovidesgrantsthatenableschoolstoassignamentor tonewteachers.TheMathDepartmentisnowdevelopingafouryearteacher induction program that would further include having master teachers coach newteachers,accordingtoMr.Miller.Thatwouldensurethatteachersreceive indepthtraining,andthattheyfeelsupported,andunderstandthevocabulary andourwayofdoingbusiness.

H ANDLING R ESISTANCE TO C HANGE


Mr.FergusonaskedwhattheNapervilleleaderswoulddoifyouweredropped asadepartmentchairintoatraditionalhighschool,wherethetypicalteacher had15yearsofexperienceandtheirattitudewas,Iknowhowtoteachmath, leavemealone,I'vegotmycurriculum,mystudentsdojustfine,Idon'tneed you.Howwouldyoudescribeleadershipifthedepartmentwasalsoatomized and stuck, and the school was in a suburb whose middleclass parents were 148|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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largely satisfied with their childrens education? Leadership means Let's trusttheteacherstobetheexperts,ifweprovideguidanceandtraining,Mr. Wierengaresponded. He noted that he was in fact dropped into Naperville as Math Department chair10yearsago.Fortunately,administratorssupportedhisdesiretopursuea stormingprocessdevotedtodevelopingabeliefsystem.Peoplesometimes wanted to just walk out of the meetings, he admitted. However, We said, Weneedto hearthosevoices,weneed tohearwhatyour concernsare, we need to talk about this, and we need to work through those issues. Once people felt valued and heard, he said, the department had created a trust systemthatallowedustogetdowntothenittygrittyofdesigningacurriculum thatworks. Youjusttrustedthatthatprocesswouldcomeoutinagoodplace,ordidyou steer it to a particular place? Mr. Ferguson asked. We steered it, Mr. Wierenga responded. There were some nonnegotiables. For example, departmental and district leaders decided that the schools would promote inquirybased learning. However, participants used the storming process to determinethecurriculumthatwouldsupportthatlearning.59

Oncepeoplefeltvalued andheard,itcreateda trustsystemthat allowedustodesigna curriculumthatworks.

M ANAGING A T EACHER D EVELOPED C URRICULUM


Ms.ChenowethaskedhowtheNapervilleschoolsdeveloptheircurriculumand assessments. Naperville has the advantage of being an aligned K12 district, Mr. Wierenga responded. To support that alignment and the inquirybased approach to learning, the district has created a sevenyear curriculum cycle. During the first three years of that cycle, staff members from a core subject convene to research and develop instructional standards. Each team then designs a curriculum for that subject, and selects the required resources. Teachers and other staff members implement the curriculum during the ensuingfouryears. Although teachers develop the curriculum and choose the resources, district curriculumleadersandtheinstructionalcoordinatorformathstackthedeck beforehand, Mr. Miller noted. That is, these leaders limit the range of materialsfromwhichateamcanchoosetoensurethatparticipantsdonotgo inadirectionthatwedon'twantthemtogo.

59.FormoreinformationonNapervillesapproachtolearninganditscurriculum,see Chapter2.

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12. T ECH B OSTON A CADEMY


CASESTUDY: TECHBOSTON ACADEMY BOSTON,MA

P R E S EN T E RS :
MarySkipper,Headmaster LisaMartinez,ChiefAcademicOfficer JustinDesai,MathLiaison NoraVernazza,MathLiaison

ANURTURINGAND CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENT

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
KarinChenoweth,TheEducationTrust ThomasPayzant,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit12.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Asian Other %Free Lunch 79.9% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

Tech Boston MA(all grades)

4.6%

58.1%

29.2%

4.6%

3.5%

69.1%

8.2%

14.8%

5.3%

2.6%

32.9%

NumberofStudentsatTechBoston:378
Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


TechBostonAcademyopeneditsdoorsin2002,aspartoftheGatesFoundation funded small schools movement. The school initially had just 75 9thgrade students and eight staff members, and added one grade a year. Although the highschoolnowservesgradesninethroughtwelve,itstillhasfewerthan400 students. Unlike Bostons three exam high schools, which require prospective students to take a test, TechBoston Academy relies on a lottery to admit its students. The schools racial and ethnic composition therefore mirrors that of thedistrict. TechBoston is a pilot school. That means that it is funded like other Boston publicschools,butthatithasthecontroloverstaffing,scheduling,curriculum, and governance typical of a charter school. The school offers an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning while incorporating technology throughout the curriculum. Administrators and teachers also rally studentstomeetthechallengeofthestateshighstakesexam,whichtheymust passtoreceiveahighschooldegree.However,theschoolalsofostersalarger visionthatincludesbeliefinhardworkasatickettohighereducation. Students at TechBoston Academy have a similar profile to those at another featured school, Brighton High School. At both schools, almost all are African AmericansandHispanicswhoqualifyforfreeandreducedpricemeals. Based on average scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), Exhibit 12.2 on the next page shows the percentage of 10thgraders in 2008 who were in each quintile of the 8thgrade math distributiontwoyearsearlier,in2006.Theexhibitshowsthatover80percentof TechBoston students had scored in the bottom three quintiles on the math MCASwhentheywere8thgradersin2006. Exhibit 12.3 on the next page shows that when their gains from 8th grade to 10th grade are compared to those of other high schools in the state, TechBoston students gained more than students with similar 8thgrade scores didat99percentofotherhighschoolsinthestate.ThelightgreybarsinExhibit 12.3 show numbers that are unadjusted for background characteristics; the dark grey bars show numbers that are adjusted. (Background characteristics includerace,gender,freeandreducedlunchstatus,limitedEnglishproficiency status,8thgradeattendance,andage.) 152|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Exhibit12.2 8thGradeMathDistribution

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.

Exhibit12.3

8thto10thGradeMathGains

Source:CalculationsbytheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity,using unpublisheddatafromtheMassachusettsDepartmentofEducation.TheMassachusetts DepartmentofEducationbearsnoresponsibilityforanyerrorsoromissions.Thelabel n.a.indicatesthattherewerenotenoughstudentsinthesampletoensureareliable calculation.

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T ECHNOLOGY AS B OTH T OOL AND C ONTENT


Some72percentofTechBostonAcademystudentsareboys,becauseboysare overrepresented in the lottery from which students are selected. Headmaster Ms. Skipper saidboys apply to the school hoping to play video games all day. However,onceadmitted,theysoonfigureoutthatgamesarenotthefocusof the school. Instead, TechBoston Academy offers a college preparatory curriculum,usingtechnologytomotivateandengagebothstudentsandfaculty, accordingtochiefacademicofficerMs.Martinez.It'sthecoreofourmission, butit'salsothebridgetodeeperstudentlearning. Theschool emphasizesliteracy andwritingacross thecurriculum. The school integrates technology throughout its interdisciplinary curriculum. The mantra we adhere to has technology at the center as both tool and content,Ms.Skipperexplained.Everystudenthasalaptop,andteachersmust be certified in technology as well as in their content area. The school also emphasizesliteracyandwritingacrossthecurriculum,Ms.Skippersaid.Thisis critical, because if students cannot read math questions and compose their answers,thentheycannotdomath.

D ISTRIBUTED L EADERSHIP AND T EACHER S UPPORT


Thekidscomeinthinkingtheycan'tdomath,thinkingtheycan'tlearn,Ms. Skipper said. Indeed, some 50 percent of 9thgrade students did not pass the 7thgrade MCAS exam. TechBoston Academys mission statement maintains that all students can learn if the school provides a nurturing and challenging environment. Ms. Skipper and Ms. Martinez described several core attributes theschoolreliesontofulfillthatmission: 1. Strong adultstudent relationships. Adults concentrate on convincingstudentsthattheyaresmartandtheycandoit. 2. A distributed leadership model that includes teacher leaders. That'sakeypart. 3. Horizontal alignment across the school. Its everyones job to be readingteachersandmathinstructors. 4. Vertical alignment within departments. When a department operates as a unified team, that adds academic rigor to all its classes. 5. An interdisciplinary curriculum. That creates a team approach to teachingaswellasdeeplearningforTechBostonstudents,asthey seecontentthroughmultiplelenses. 154|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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6. An adult development model. The school provides more than 100 hours of professional development for teachers each year. Topics include course content, differentiated instruction, sensitivity training, student work, and sharing of best practices. Venues include gradelevel meetings, departmental meetings, and meetings that focus on how best to support individual students. Although most of this professional development occurs inhouse, many TechBoston teachers are district leaders, enabling them to sharebestpracticeswithotherschools. 7. A dynamic learning organization. We make midcourse corrections, we do what we need to do to evolve, so that we are smarter the following year. This approach includes an opendoor policy that encourages teachers to walk into any class to observe anotherinstructor teaching.All TechBoston teachers participate in suchpeerobservation. Our teachers are multitalented, Ms. Skipper said. They are crosscertified, manyinteachingEnglishlanguagelearners,manyinspecialed.Andtheywork as a team on both defense and offense, to make sure the kids get what they need. According to Ms. Skipper, fulfilling the schools mission requires hard work on the part of teachers. None of us would be here if we didn't have teachers who are on the floor, ready to do the work. It's about quality instructionandtheirbeingwillingtoputinthehourstohavethathappen.

Theschoolprovides morethan100hours ofprofessional developmentfor teacherseachyear.

Theopendoorpolicy encouragesteachersto walkintoanyclassto observeanother instructorteaching.

D ATA D RIVEN I NTERVENTIONS


TechBoston Academy performs a risk analysis of the academic, social, and emotional needs of each incoming 9thgrade student. Ninthand 10thgrade teachers then meet to ensure that 10thgraders receive every support they need to handle that years curriculum and pass the 10thgrade MCAS tests, which they must to receive a high school diploma. We are immediately identifyingtheirstrengthsandweaknesses,Ms.Vernazza,mathliaison,noted. Thisenables staffmemberstoputsupportsinplaceandtarget interventions before we ever see a student, Ms. Skipper said. Staff members are now developing a webbased tool to facilitate that analysis, which the school will sharewithotherschools.Supportsforstudentsincludelearningcenters,small group instruction, and oneonone tutoring embedded in their 9thgrade schedule. For the latter, the school relies on TechBoston juniors as well as outsidetutorstotutoryoungerstudents.Infact,peerculturehasbeencritical 2009AGIConferenceReport 155|P a g e

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Peerculturehasbeen criticaltotheschools successasolder studentsteachyounger studentsthatit'scool tobesmart. to the schools success, according to Ms. Skipper, as older students teach youngerstudentsthatit'scooltobesmart.

P REPARING S TUDENTS FOR H IGH S TAKES T ESTS


Tenthgrade teachers integrate MCAS preparation into the math curriculum throughouttheyear,accordingtoMs.Vernazza.Learningcentersandoneon onetutoringalsofocusonMCASprep,andtheschooladministerstwopractice MCAS math tests midyear. Teachers analyze students scores on the first practicetestquestionbyquestion,andusethatinformationtoidentifywhere studentsarestrongandwheretheyneedextrasupport,Ms.Vernazzasaid.The schoolhasalsocreatedadatabaseofallMCASrelatedquestions,whichithas alignedbystatestandardandknowledgestrand. StudentsareveryinvolvedinunderstandingthetypesofMCASquestionsand thestrandsofknowledgetheyrepresent,accordingtoMr.Desai,mathliaison. Theyareinvestedintheprocess.Studentsdiscusshowaparticularstrandfits into the knowledge frameworks of both the state and the Boston Public Schools. TechBoston students start talking about the strands they need help withaswegetcloserandclosertotheMCAS,accordingtoMs.Vernazza.And the school offers boot camps and other enrichments that focus on specific strands. As you are walking through the tutoring center, you often hear students say, Oh, do you need help on number sense? Oh, no, I need geometry. The second practice test simulates the environment of the actual MCAS test: Everything is exactly the same as it would be on test daywe use the same rooms, the same proctors, the same security features, she said. That has helpedwithtestanxiety,asstudentsnolongerfacetheunknownontestday.

Teachersanalyze studentspracticetest scoresquestionby questionandidentify wherestudentsare strongandwherethey needextrasupport.

Thesecondpractice testsimulatesthe environmentofthe actualMCAStest: thathashelpedwith testanxiety.

M OTIVATING S TUDENTS TO S UCCEED


StudentsunderstandtheMCASstructuretheyknowwhattheyaregoingto seewhenthetestrollsaround,Mr.Desaiconcurred.Transparencyiskeytothe MCAS drive. We love data, and two years ago we decided to start showing some of the students some of the MCAS data, he said. For example, at the juniorassemblyatthebeginningoftheyear,thestaffannouncestheprevious year'sMCASscores.Juniorsthereforeknowthenumberstobeathowmany 10thgrade students scored advanced and proficient the previous year. Sophomores also attend the event. Meanwhile, plaques hanging in school

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hallwaysidentifystudentswhohavereceivedaperfectscore.Allthehypespurs studentstogetgenuinelyexcited,accordingtoMr.Desai. Teachers accelerate the curriculum to allow four to five weeks of MCAS prep directly before the exam. Teachers and students also take advantage of discretionary daysnot to rehearse test strategies such as process of elimination,buttodocontentdrivenMCASprep,hesaid.Thatworkfocuseson frameworksforeachsubjectfromboththestateandBostonPublicSchools. Headmasterassemblies,contests,andrafflesfurthertouttheMCASchallenge. TheschoolannouncesanMCASrelatedquestionoftheday,offersapremium pizza lunch to students who work on MCAS questions during lunchtime, and holdsafterschoolbootcamps,aswellasweekendprepsessionsattheBoston Public Library. Although the boot camps are voluntary, attendance rates are great,Mr.Desaiattested.Studentscompleteatleast20mathproblemsduring eachsession. Students use their laptops to record each question they answer in class, boot camps,lunchsessions,andotherprepsessionsaswellastheMCASquestion of the dayin their own Excel database. They record their percentage of correct answers by category of question and strand, and also track their daily progress.Theyarelookingattheirweaknessesversustheirstrengths,andthat helpsthemfullyunderstandtheprocess,Mr.Desaisaid. Theideathatsome studentsareinnately goodatmathandother subjectshasgivenway totherecognitionthat itisreallyabouthard work. All these activities have created a cultural shift among both students and teachers, according to Ms. Skipper: the idea that some students are innately good at math and other subjects has given way to the recognition that it is reallyabouthardwork.Studentsknowthatiftheytrustteacherstohelpthem, theywillpasstheMCAS. Students also understand how working hard and doing well can translate into longerterm success. For example, the school highlights the fact that high scoring students on the MCAS qualify for the Adams Scholarship, and receive freetuitionatinstatepublicinstitutionsofhigherlearning. Mr. Ferguson asked how TechBoston Academy avoids burning out students, giventhattheyprepforMCASforfourtofiveweeksbeforetheexam,including during lunchtime and boot camp. We try to include fun activities, so it's not drillandkill,Mr.Desairesponded.Andalthoughstudentsmaydo400or500 MCAS math problems before the test, the school offers that training through manydifferentavenues.

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Studentsseeresults: theyfeelgoodthat theyareworkinghard, andtheywanttodo moreofit. Studentsalsoseeresultsastheyparticipate,andwhentheyareworkinghard, thatcansnowball:theyfeelgoodthattheyareworkinghard,andtheywantto domoreofit,heobserved.TheschoolalsotiesMCASpreptothecurriculum, to build students overall ability in English and math as well as their belief in themselves.

C ULTIVATING H UMAN C APITAL


Mr. Payzant asked about human capital strategies. Where do you get the teachersforhardtofillfields?Howdoyouinductthem?Andmostimportantly, how do you retain them? Human capital is critical, Ms. Skipper agreed. Many teachers have arrived at the school through word of mouth. The best recruitersforourpositionsareourownteachers:theyknowwhatittakestobe atTechBostonAcademy.Wheninterviewingprospectiveteachers,existingstaff members alert applicants to prepare to sign over their life, she said. They wantcolleagueswhoaregoingtoworkhard. Professional development is also critical to retaining teachers, she noted. As part of its focus on adult development, TechBoston does not force every teacher to sit through the same professional development sessions. Instead, administrators lookat each staff member and ask, How can we develop that adult so that he or she can really maximize their gifts? TechBoston has therefore had little problem retaining teachers, according to Ms. Skipper. If teachersfeelrespectedandsupported,andasthoughtheycangoineveryday andteach,itmakesadifference,andtheystay.

Wheninterviewing prospectiveteachers, existingstaffmembers alertapplicantsto preparetosignover theirlife.

H O W A N I NT E R DI S C IP LI NA RY C U RR I C U LU M G E T S D EV ELO PE D
Ms. Chenoweth asked how TechBoston had developed its interdisciplinary curriculum,includingitsassessments.Aninterdisciplinaryapproachtolearning waspartoftheschoolsoriginalplan, Ms. Martinezresponded.However, that approachbeganinformally,becausetheschoolstartedwithsofewstudents. Teacherssimplyspentanexorbitantamountoftimetogetherthatfirstyear. However, as the school grew, we noticed that we needed to put a policy in place,andlookathiringlikemindedteachers,shesaid.Staffmembersensured that new teachers supported collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach to learning. The school also set aside staff time for interdisciplinary collaboration,andcreatedasystemofteachermentoringandcoaching.

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T EAC HE R A U TO N O M Y V E RSU S A CCO U N TA BI LI T Y


Mr.Payzantaskedwhattheschoolsphilosophyregardingteacherautonomyis. Asapilotschool,TechBostondoesenjoysomecontroloveritscurriculum,Ms. Martinez said. Administrators also give teachers some independence in deciding how to teach material in class. However, they need to stay within a structure so that we can collaborate. Trusting instructors to decide how to teach material specified by state and district frameworks while remaining withintheschoolsmissionisimportant,shesaid. I see autonomy and accountability as two legs supporting student achievement, Ms. Skipper observed. As a school leader, I have to makesure weachieveabalance.Ifachievementstartstoslide,wehavetoadjust,and talkaboutwhat'snotbeingdone,thingsfallingthroughthecracks,howpeople arenotbeingselfaccountabletothework. She told the faculty from day one, Whether you like the MCAS or you don't, whetheryouphilosophicallyagreewithitoryoudon't,itdoesn'treallymatter. Ifthekidsdowellonthebenchmarkslaidoutbythedistrictandthestate,you will have more autonomy to do your work. That philosophy has allowed a tremendousamountofinnovation,shesaid. Ourteachersare constantlyevolving. Theyhelpdefineusasa leadershipanda learningorganization. Ourteachersareconstantlyevolving.TheyhelpdefineTechBostonAcademyas a leadership organization and a learning organization. Every year is different: teachers can come to the table and say, We would like to teach this class, having nevertaughtitbefore.Theyalsohelpdesignthecurriculumandmake surethatitmeetsthestandards.Tomethat'scritical,becausewhenteachers becomestagnant,learningbecomesstagnantLeadershipisaboutinnovation: it'saboutseeingboththebeachandthehorizon.ThebeachisthelandscapeI havetodealwith;thehorizoniswhereIwanteverybodylookingandtogo. It'stheleader'sjobtohelpfocuseveryoneonthathorizon,Ms.Skipperadded.

D EA L I N G WI T H R ELU CTA NT T EACH E RS


Mr.Fergusonaskedhowtheschoolworkswithteacherswhojustdonotwant togoalongwiththeprogram,butwhoalsodonotwanttoleave.Canyougive us an example of how the conversation might go? That scenario requires a wholeschool effort, Ms. Skipper responded. On the rare occasion that a teachers personal life or whatever causes him or her to move in a different direction, we first put every possible support in place. Given the schools philosophyofadultdevelopment,staffmemberstrytofigureoutwhat'sgoing onandhelp.Ialwaysusethewordpastoraltodescribethatapproach,which tellsthecommunityofteachersthatweareheretohelp. 2009AGIConferenceReport 159|P a g e

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Imakesurethat mybestteachers areinfrontofmy neediestkids. Thatsaid,wearetheguardiansofthechildren,shenoted,sowhenafaculty memberdoesnotcomeonboard,otherteachersactuallystarttoisolatethat teacher, and soon that person no longer wants to come to work. On those rare occasions, it's communicated to that teacher long before I ever have to haveahardconversationthatheorsheneedstoleavetheschool. Ms.Skipperalsoensuresthatsuchaninstructordoesnotteachstudentswho need the most help. I make sure that my best teachers are in front of my neediest kids, she said. Instead, she assigns recalcitrant teachers to students whohaveaccesstootherresources.

B EYOND T EACHING TO THE T EST


A focus on MCAS could actually support students larger goals, Mr. Payzant noted.Althoughcriticsbemoanteachingtoatest,especiallyifitisweak,MCAS is a better test than many, he said. For example, open response (writing to a prompt) accounts for 40 percent of students scores in English Language Arts (ELA),andstudentsmustshowhowtheysolvedsomeMCASmathproblems.As evidence of the rigor of that exam, one study showed that Massachusetts students have the smallest gap between scores on state and national achievementtests. Mr.Fergusonaskedwhethertheschoolfostersalargervisionofwherestudents are going with their lives, with the MCAS just one stop along the way. Some evidence that TechBostons approach is not just about MCAS is that the 11thgradestudentsaretrulyexcitedaboutmath,Mr.Desairesponded.The MCASisintherearwindow,it'sdone,theyhaveearnedtheirgradeonit,they passedit,buttheyarestillexcitedaboutwhat'supcominginmath. Becauseadvisorsand studentsdiscusstheir journeyfromdayone, studentscometo understandthatthey areincharge,andthat isabigturningpoint. Staffmembersalsotalkupcollegefromthetime9thgradestudentsarrive,Ms. Skipper said: the question is not whether they will attend college, but where. Students must figure out how to deal with the MCAS, SAT, and AP tests and grade point average as part of that journey. Because advisors and students discussthejourneyfromdayone,studentscometounderstandthattheyare incharge,andthatisabigturningpoint,Ms.Skippersaid.Themessagethat becauseofyourgenderorthecolorofyourskinoryoursocioeconomicstatus, you are relegated to a certain level of achievementthat's not language we useatTechBoston. Butyoudoloseafairnumberofkids,right?Mr.Fergusonasked.Theschools dropout rate was only about 2.8 percent last year, Ms. Skipper responded.

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Students may also transfer to another school in the district. However, TechBostons mobility rate is only about 10 percentwhich is low for the district.

E NTICING G IRLS TO T ECHNOLOGY


Mr. Ferguson asked whether the staff has tried to make the school more appealing to girls. All small public schools in Boston are themebased, Ms. Skipper responded. Some focus on art or health careers, and girls tend to gravitate to those schools. To help address such selfselection, TechBoston studentspromotetheschooltomiddleschoolstudents,shesaid. TechBostonAcademyisalsoadding6th,7th,and8thgradesthisyear,doubling its size to 800 students. To attract girls to those new grades, Ms. Skipper intends to go to elementary schools and show girls the powerful impact of technologyonlearning,sotheydonotsimplyassociateitwithacareerthey mustpursue.

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13. P AINT B RANCH H IGH S CHOOL


CASESTUDY: PAINTBRANCHHIGH SCHOOL MONTGOMERY COUNTY,MD

P R E S EN T E RS :
JohnHaas,AssistantPrincipal JamiePaoloni,SocialStudiesResourceTeacher,andAPWorldHistoryTeacher JackieFludd,APWorldHistoryTeacher

ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING STUDENTSOFCOLOR TOENROLLINAP COURSES

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JimConnell,InstituteforResearchandReforminEducation RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit13.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Asian Other %Free Lunch 23.3% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

White

Black

Hispanic

Paint Branch MD(all grades)

20.4%

47.0%

12.0%

20.3%

3.0%

45.8%

38.5%

9.5%

5.9%

3.0%

28.1%

NumberofStudentsatPaintBranch:1,805
Source:2008MarylandStateReportCard(http://msp.msde.state.md.us/)


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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


The state of Maryland has among the highest percentages of students in the nation taking and passing at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam. For taking and passing AP exams, Montgomery County is a leading district in Maryland, and Paint Branch High School is a leading school in Montgomery County.Thisisnotbecausethestudentsareadvantaged.AsshownonExhibit 13.1, a majorityof thestudents atPaintBranch are students of color and the povertyrateisonlyslightlybelowthestateaverage. PaintBranchHighSchoolwasnominatedforparticipationintheAGIconference because of a national distinction that it achieved in AP World History. Specifically,comparedtoallhighschoolsintheUnitedStates,PaintBranchwas the school in 2008 where the highest percentage of all graduatesand the highestpercentageofblackgraduatesearneda3orhigherontheAPWorld History Exam. Exhibit 13.2 shows the percentage of all Maryland graduates taking at least one AP exam and the percentage of each racial group at Paint Branch doing the same. Each racial group at Paint Branch exceeds the state average. This achievement reflects a decade of progress. The percentage of PaintBranchstudentstakingatleastoneAPexamrosefrom30percentin2000 toalmost60percentadecadelater. Exhibit13.2 GraduatesTakingatLeastOneAPExam

Sources:CollegeBoard,SixthAnnualAPReporttotheNationandOfficeofShared AccountabilityReports,MontgomeryCountyPublicSchools (http://sharedaccountability.mcpsprimetime.org/reports/list.php)

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L EADERSHIP T HAT F OCUSES ON O PPORTUNITY P LUS R IGOR


In 2009, the NAACP chose Paint Branch Principal Jeannette Dixon as its first OutstandingPrincipaloftheYear.Andindeed,shehasbeenthebiggestfactor inthesuccessofPaintBranchHighSchool,accordingtoMr.Haas,theassistant principal. When Ms. Dixon arrived in 2001 after having served as a middle schoolprincipal,PaintBranchwasalreadysuccessful,hesaid.However,shesaw thatmorecouldbedone. Ms.Dixonhasplayedacriticalroleinensuringbothopportunityandrigorforall Paint Branch students, concurred Ms. Paoloni, social studies resource teacher andAPworldhistoryteacher.Becauseofherefforts,wereallyhavedeveloped an AP culture within our school. This means that although the schools AP courses are rigorous, students know they can do it, they are willing to take thoserisks,andwecontinuetobesuccessfulbecauseofthatemphasis. Ms. Dixon lives and breathes her schoolwide vision of providing the best rigorous education for all students, Mr. Haas observed. She also creates a personal bond between students and the school. In the mornings, you will hear her on the loudspeaker, welcoming students, providing the announcements. You will hear her say Go Panthers whenever we have a big basketballgameorotherathleticevent.Hervisionandconvictioninstandingby itisenablingPaintBranchtomoveforward.

Wereallyhave developedanAP culture.

Theprincipalplayeda criticalroleinensuring opportunityandrigor forallstudents.

I DENTIFYING AND A CTIVELY R ECRUITING APS TUDENTS


Aspartofitsvisionofprovidingbothopportunityandrigor,theschoolactively encourages students to enroll in AP courses. According to Mr. Haas, Paint Branchisanogatesschool,whichmeans:wedonotpreventanystudent fromtakinganAPlevelcourse.Schoolleadersbeginwithalistofstudentswith AP potential provided by the College Board, based on their PSAT scores. Ms. Dixon, other administrators, and the schools instructional council personally encourageeachofthosestudentstoenrollinatleastoneAPcourse. To further recruit students for AP courses, the school invites minority parents and students to an AP breakfast, where they hear from AP teachers and minority students about the AP programwhy it is valuable to take such coursesoraparticularAPtest.Thishelpstoconvinceminorityparentsthatthe APprogramisfortheirchildren,Mr.Haassaid,andthatthey mustbepartof theAPculture:theycannotsimplysendtheirchildtoPaintBranchandexpect thatthatchildwillhaveeverything.Weneedsomehelpfromtheparents.

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Theschoolconveys threekeymessagesto APstudents:Youcan doit,thisisimportant, andwewon'tgiveup onyou. For their part, school staff members offer continuous encouragement and personal outreach to AP students. For example, administrators and guidance counselors meet with AP parents and students at the beginning of the school year.TheschoolalsoconveysthreekeymessagestoAPstudents,basedonthe approachofJonSaphierandResearchforBetterTeaching(RBT):60Youcando it,thisisimportant,andwewon'tgiveuponyou,Mr.Haassaid.Then,onthe day of the last AP exam in May, the school hosts a picnic to celebrate the accomplishmentsofAPstudents.

K EY TO S UCCESS :P ROFESSIONAL D EVELOPMENT


Ms.PaolonihastaughtAPworldhistorysincethecoursesinceptionacrossthe nationin2001,shenoted.Thedistrictcreatedthecourseaspartofitsinitiative toexpanditsAPofferings,whichnownumber20atPaintBranchalone.World historyisnowthelargestAPprogramatPaintBranch,accordingtoMs.Paoloni. More than 200 Paint Branch students took AP world history in 200809, and some239aretakingthecoursein200910. ThegrowthofworldhistoryandotherAPcoursesoccurredastheschoolwas experiencing an influx of minority students, she noted. That means that althoughteachersoftenexpectAPstudentstohaveahighskilllevel,somedo not. Teachers musttherefore figure outhow to teachin a nontraditionalAP classroom.Fortunately,boththedistrictandtheschoolunderstandthatifwe are going to offer all those courses and put a diverse group of students in them, teachers need a tremendous amount of professional development, accordingtoMs.Paoloni.Administratorshaveprovidednumerousprofessional activities designed to enhance teachers professional growththat is part of thereasonwhywearesosuccessful,shesaid.

Administratorshave providednumerous professionalactivities designedtoenhance teachersprofessional growth.

P RO MOT I NG B E ST P RAC TI C E S
To support teachers professional development, the school tried to identify bestpracticesteacherscouldshare,accordingtoMs.Fludd,theothermember ofthePaintBranchAPworldhistoryteam.Onesuchpracticeisdifferentiated instruction,ortailoringteachingtotheneedsofeachstudent.Thatapproach requiresassessingtheskilllevelandinterestsofeachstudent,andthenusing

60.ResearchforBetterTeaching(RBT)isaschoolimprovementorganizationwith extensiveexperienceinteachingandleadership.Moreinformationcanbefoundat http://www.rbteach.com.

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variousmethodssuchasSocraticseminars,lectures,cooperativelearning,or groupprojectstoteachcoursematerial.
D I FF E R EN T I AT ED I N STRU C TI O N

Mr. Murnane asked what relying on differentiated instruction to teach AP courses actually means, short of providing rigor for some students and not others. Ms. Fludd responded that AP world history teachers ask students to writethreedifferenttypesofessays,becausethosetypeswillappearontheAP exam.Sheasksherstudentstopracticewritingeachessayduringa45minute classperiod,becausethatistheamountoftimetheywillhaveduringtheactual APexam. Of course, some students are really strong writers and some are not, she observed. So differentiated instruction entails providing various kinds of scaffoldingtohelpstudentsatdifferentlevelslearn.Forexample,attimesshe groups students homogeneously, according to skill level, and sometimes she teaches them in heterogeneous groups. That means a student might be the only member of a group who always writes a perfect essay, or might be in a groupofstudentswhoareallstrugglingwiththesametask.If somestudents needhelpcraftingathesisstatement,forexample,sheprovidesextrahelpand supporttothosestudentsasagroup. The AP world history team also evaluates each students reading level. That effortbeganwhentheteachersasked,Whoreadthebooklastnight,because yourquizzesdidn'tlooksogreattoday?andsomestudentsadmittedthatthey were struggling with the collegelevel textbook, according to Ms. Fludd. The teachers responded by providing alternative readings, such as by directing studentstowebpageswiththesamecontentasthetextbook.Studentsoften spendsomuchtimeonthecomputerthattheyaremoreapttoreadawebsite aboutGenghisKahnthanafivepagesectionintheirbookaboutGenghisKahn, shenoted. Mr. Ferguson asked the presenters for other examples of how the school supports students who are struggling in AP courses. Teachers are available during lunch period and after school, so students can drop by their offices to ask questions, Ms. Fludd said. Students also help each other It's not uncommonduringlunchtoseekidshangingoutinteachersclassroomsdoing homework,andtalkingaboutthepreviousnight'shomework.

TheAPworldhistory teamevaluateseach studentsreadinglevel.

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S UPPORTIVE E NVIRONMENT FOR S TUDENTS


Mr. Murnane asked how the school deals with students who arrive midyear, giventhatteachersalreadystruggletodifferentiateinstructionandappealto alltheirkids.TeachingAPcoursesishardenoughwhenyou'vegotthesame kidsallyear,henoted. Welcoming new students and ensuring that they become part of the school cultureandeachprogramisalsoimportant,Ms.Paoloniresponded.Teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors try to place each new student in the appropriate courses. Teachers then spend a lot of time one on one to catch thatstudentuptowheretheyneedtobe. Teachersalsoasktheformerteachersoftheirstudents,Whatdidtheystruggle with?Whatseemedtoworkforthem?WhatdoIneedtobemadeawareof? Ms. Fludd said. That definitely helps teachers provide our students with supportcomingin,asopposedtowaitingasemestertodiscoverthatacourseis notgoingwellforthem. Teacherscontinually tweaktheirlesson plans,ratherthan simplyrelyingonthe samecannedlessons forseveralyears. Teachersalsocontinuallytweaktheirlessonplans,ratherthansimplyrelyingon the same canned lessons for several years, she noted. We are constantly looking at what works and what doesn't, getting input and feedback from students, doingitemanalysis, and talkingwithone another Our lessons and approacharebasedonthecurrentyear'sstudents,notnecessarilytheprevious year's. Teachers frequently update grades on Edline, an online system maintained by thedistrict,sostudentscankeepabreastofhowtheyaredoingineachcourse, Ms. Fludd noted. Teachers also post assignments, PowerPoints, and links to websites on Edline, and use the system to send email to both students and parents.

E NGAGING S TUDENTS
The AP world history team also maintains personal connections with each studentthroughinteractiveprojects,afterschoolactivities,andtripsabroad,to getkidsexcitedaboutandturnedontoworldhistory,accordingtoMs.Fludd. The result is that the departmentlike most departments at Paint Branch adds new sections every year to accommodate all the students who want to enrollinanAPcourse. Howcomfortableareyouwiththelevelofactivestudentengagementinyour classes? Mr. Ferguson asked, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the 168|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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highest. Probably seven to eight, Mr. Haas responded. The district provides interactive technology such as SMART Boards, Ms. Paoloni noted, and that has helped teachers create more engaging lessons. Teachers received the SMART Boards only recently, so they are still a work in progress, but everybody loves them.

A N A CTIVE P ROFESSIONAL L EARNING C OMMUNITY


School leaders encourage teachers to rely on their peers as a resource for teaching in a nontraditional AP classroom.Jamie [Paoloni] and I have a highly effectiveprofessionallearningcommunityoryoucouldsayPLP,orprofessional learningpair,Ms.Fluddobserved.Weareconstantlytalkingwithoneanother tofigureoutwhat'sgoingwellinherclass,what'snotgoingsowellinmyclass, oronethingthatIdidthatwasreallycoolthatshecouldtrywithherstudents. Ms. Fludd began teaching AP world history during her first year as a teacher, whichwassortofscary,sheadmitted.Havingsomeonewhocouldserveasa mentor, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to collaborate with in a nonthreatening[way]madeahugedifference. TheAPworldhistoryteamalsotapsotherdepartmentsforadvice,accordingto Ms. Fludd. For example, we are constantly talking to our AP government colleagues, asking, What are you doing with the kids in terms of notetaking strategies?Isitworkingwellforthem?AreyouusingtheCornellnotesystem? So when my students are struggling, I can say to them, Remember last year whenyouhadMr.MillerandyouwereusingCornellnotes?Haveyoubeendoing that?

I MPROVING T EACHERS S KILLS


ThetwoAPworld historyteachersmeet frequentlytotalk aboutwhat'sworking andwhat'snot. Whatisyourstrategyforreducingvariationinanaspectofinstructionthatyou think is very important? Mr. Connell asked. That is, What are you doing to closethegaptoensurethatmoreteachersareoperatingatthehighestlevel, andthatteachersinthemiddleandatthebottomaremovingup? The two AP world history teachers meet frequently to talk about what's working and what's not, Ms. Fludd responded. Our lessons are often very similar.However,ifwedoteachsomethingdifferentlyifIdosomethinginmy classthatworksreallywell,andshedoessomethingthatsomeofherkidsdon't getwe can share information about that and try different approaches. AlthoughtheCollegeBoardprovidesafairlystructuredcurriculumforAPworld

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Thereisanexpectation withinourschoolthatwe aregoingtodowhat's necessaryforthe students. history, she noted, teachers still have room to determinewhat they will focus onandwhen,andhowtoteacheachtopic. Whoisdrivingthateffort?Mr.Connellasked.DoAPteacherssimplydecide to collaborate,orisanadministratornotingthata percentageofstudentsdid notscorewellonanAPexamlastyear,andaskingteacherstoworktogetherto address that deficiency? It's a combination of both, Ms. Paoloni responded. There is an expectation within our school that we are going to do what's necessary for the students, and there's also an internal drive among the teachers that we want students to do well. So you could be teaching government,youcouldbeteachingU.S.history,butweareallfeedingoffone another,weareallcollaboratingtoshareourbestpractices.

D EA L I N G WI T H R E SI STA N CE
Administratorshadto havecourageous conversations,and sometimesrecruit otherteachersforthe APcourses. Despite that support, some teachers have resisted the effort to broaden enrollmentinAPcourses,Ms.Paoloniacknowledged.Atfirst,somedidnotbuy intotheconceptofthenontraditionalclassroom,andtheneedtorethinktheir approach. Administrators had to have courageous conversations with those teachers,andsometimesrecruitotherteachersforAPcourses,shesaid. If you had a colleague who wasn't participating, then what? asked Mr. Ferguson.Thathashappened,Ms.Paoloniresponded.Althoughthemajority of teachers buy into the Paint Branch approach, you will have your rogue teachersYouhavetohavesomedifficultconversations. Canyougiveusan exampleofadifficultconversation?Mr.Fergusonasked. Whentheworldhistoryprogramrolledoutanewcurriculumthispastyear,Ms. Paoloni noted, some teachers were struggling. As the department chair, she satdownwiththoseteachersandsaid,Look,youarenotarogueagenthere, youneedtoworkwiththeteam.ShealsoaskedMr.Haasforsupport,shesaid.

H OW APT EACHERS T ARGET I NSTRUCTION


Departmentalteams meetaboutoncea monthduringthe actualschoolyearto examinedata. Mr. Connell asked how often Paint Branch staff members look at data on student learning in a formal, expected, accountable way, within or across contentareas,ratherthansimplyrelyingonidiosyncraticteacherswhoarejust intensivelyinterested. The schools instructional team meets over the summer to examine students APscores,Mr.Haasresponded.Thatmeetingbecomesthestartoftheschool yearWecelebratethesuccessesandcryandcommiserateoverourfailures. Departmental teams then meet about once a month during the actual school 170|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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year to examine data on student achievement. District leaders also compare students test scores in math and English to student achievement in districts acrossthecountry,hesaid,andlookathowteachersinotherdistrictssupport studentswhodonotscorewellinaparticulararea.

K EEPING THE R IGOR IN APC OURSES


Mr. Ferguson noted that one parent writes to me personally about every six weeks from Montgomery County complaining that the district has watered downthechallenge.Thatparentholdsthatthedistrictshouldnotcelebratea score of 3 [out of 5] on an AP exam, and worries that gifted and talented students aren't getting their due. What strategies does the school use to challengehigherlevelAPstudents? Although teachers use differentiated instruction to raise the skill levels of lagging students, AP world history is still a tough course, Ms. Fludd responded.IcanhonestlysayI'veneverhadaparentcomplainthatitwasn't hardenough.Ms.Paoloniconcurred,notingthatourcontinuedsuccessrate showsthatthecoursehasnotbeenwatereddown. Wearenotnave,Mr.Haasadded:theschooldoesnotexpecteverystudent whotakesanAPexamtoscorea3orbetter.However,PrincipalDixonsvision includesgivingstudentstheopportunitytotakeAPlevelcoursesbecausethat willhelpthemsucceedatthenextlevel,hesaid.Hopefully,theexposureand the opportunity to have phenomenal teachers will encourage students to continuetheireducation. Mr. Ferguson asked whether students who do not take AP courses are marginalized, given that the school makes those courses such a high priority. No, Ms. Paoloni responded. One reason is that the district models all its coursesonAPprograms,toensurerigorthroughoutthecurriculum.

Icanhonestlysay I'veneverhada parentcomplainthat itwasn'thard enough.

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14. T HURGOOD M ARSHALL A CADEMY


CASESTUDY: THURGOOD MARSHALL ACADEMY WASHINGTON,DC

P R E S EN T E RS :
AlexandraPardo,AcademicDirector RebeccaJones,EnglishTeacher TaraAllen,MathDepartmentChair

ACULTUREOF STRUCTUREAND HIGHEXPECTATIONS

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JimConnell,InstituteforResearchandReforminEducation RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat) S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE


Exhibit14.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Asian Other %Free Lunch 73.0% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

Thurgood Marshall DC(all grades)

0.0%

100.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

3.9%

86.5%

8.2%

1.2%

0.2%

67.2%

NumberofStudentsatThurgoodMarshall:390
Source:DCOfficeoftheStateSuperintendentofEducation,NoChildLeftBehindData Reports(http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/)compiledfortheJune2009annualconference oftheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


ThurgoodMarshallisahighpovertyschoolwhereallofthestudentsareAfrican Americanandstudentsareselectedbylottery. In 2005, students at the school scored slightly below the average for Washington, DC. However, since 2005, the proficiency rate has tripled in readinganddoubledinmath. Exhibits14.2belowand14.3onthefollowingpagetellthestory.Theyshowfor bothreadingandmath,thatproficiencyratesroserapidlyafter2005toreach more than twenty percentage points higher than rates for the district as a whole. Exhibit14.2 10thGradersProficientonDCCASReadingExam

Sources:DCOfficeoftheStateSuperintendentofEducation,NoChildLeftBehindData Reports(http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/)andThurgoodMarshallAcademyPublicCharter HighSchool(http://www.thurgoodmarshallacademy.org/)

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Exhibit14.3 10thGradersProficientonDCCASMathExam

Sources:DCOfficeoftheStateSuperintendentofEducation,NoChildLeftBehindData Reports(http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/)andThurgoodMarshallAcademyPublicCharter HighSchool(http://www.thurgoodmarshallacademy.org/)

A N A MBITIOUS M ISSION
Wearegoingtotakealittlequiz,Ms.Pardo,academicdirectoratThurgood Marshall Academy, told conference participants. Do you know the format of your state test, if you are a school administrator? Does your principal know whichstrandsaretested?Whatpercentageisopenresponse?Whatpercentage ismultiplechoice?DotheyknowwhatnovelsyourEnglishteachersread?Do theyknowwhatmathprojectsyourmathstudentsdo?Iftheanswerisno,then yourschoolismissingsomeinstructionalleadership. Washington, DC first adopted its Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS) achievementtestin2005,shenoted.Studentsdonothavetopassthetestto graduate,andthedistrictdoesnotreleasetestitemsorprovidetestbanksfor schoolstousetopreparetheirstudents.However,ThurgoodMarshallAcademy relies on that test and numerous other benchmarks to carefully track the progressofitsstudentsandfulfillitsambitiousmission:topreparestudentsto succeed in college and to actively engage in our democratic society. That mission drives everything the school does, according to Ms. Pardo: we dont deviatefromit.Schoolstaffcontinuallyask,Howdoesthisengagestudentsin ademocraticsociety,andhowdoesthisgetthemtocollege?Whenwelookat theCAS,weask:whatdoesthismeanforthePSAT,theSAT,theAP?

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welookattheCAS,weask:whatdoesthismeanforthePSAT,theSAT,theAP? Weknowwecannotchangethecontextforthekidsthatweserve,butwecan change their behaviors, and what we are going to do every day is to change thosebehaviors.Ican'tchangethefreeandreducedlunch,Ican'tchangethe neighborhood,butIcanchangewhatIexpectfromstudents,becauseofwhat we are going to provide for them. That approach requires a team effort by teachers,students,andparents,shesaid.

A LIGNED S TRATEGIC P LANS AND G OALS


One of the schools most important efforts in supporting its mission is coordinating itsdrivingdocuments,accordingto Ms.Pardo.Allschoolshave myriad strategic plans created by administrators and departments over time, she noted. However, the districts plans, our school improvement plan, our [teacher] accountability plan cannot have different goals, because that would mean we are not working together. Thus Thurgood Marshall Academy has systematicallytriedtoalignitsplansandgoals. Theschoolalsotriestoensurethatitsgoalsarebothtangibleandmeasurable. That process is difficult and timeconsuming, as anyone who has ever been through it knows, according to Ms. Pardo. For example, Teachers may say, MystudentsreadsomanynovelsinEnglishclass,butsowhat?That'snota goal.What'sthepurposeofreadingthosenovels?Whatarestudentsgetting outofthatisthequestion.Andthenhowdoyoumeasurethat?sheasked. A key goal of the school is not only that its students attend college, but that theysucceedwhentheydo.Tomeasurethatgoal,theschooltracksthenumber ofremedial classesthatThurgood Marshallgraduatesmusttakein college.To implementprogramstosupportthatgoal,theschoolmustraiseaboutamillion dollars a year beyond its regular district allocation. That requires applying for grantsfromcommunitypartners,andthenallocatingthoseresourcestoreflect theneedsofstaff,students,andtheschoolsphysicalplant.

T HE P OWER OF D ATA
Tomeasurestudents progress,schoolleaders developedtheirown benchmarksystem, assessingstudents quarterly. Givenitsfocusonmeasurablegoals,theschoolhasconcentratedonusingdata effectively during the last three years, according to Ms. Pardo. To measure studentsprogress,schoolleadershavedevelopedtheirownbenchmarksystem that entails assessing students quarterly. School leaders have also developed gradelevel diagnostics in partnership with Scantron,61 which helps schools createassessmentsystems.
61.FormoreinformationonScantronCorporation,visithttp://www.scantron.com/.

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The school devotes a halfday of professional development each quarter to examiningtheresultsofthoseassessmentsandmonitoringprogressonschool improvement.Ifstaffmemberslookattestresultsthreemonthslater,nobody cares,Ms.Pardoobserved,sosheschedulesthosesessionslessthanaweek afterstudentstakethetests.Theassessmentsarethefirstthingontheschool calendar, she notes: she chooses those dates before the school schedules footballgamesandstudentperformances. During those sessions, she sits down with teachers and does item analysis, askingwhyeachstudentgotsomequestionsrightandotherswrong.Teachers and staff then use the results to inform instruction, asking, What does this meanforAlgebraI?WhatdoesthismeanforEnglish9?ForEnglish10?That reflection entails bringing people to the table by grade level or department, andevenschoolwide,topooltheirobservationsandexperience,andtomake neededchangesatthosethreelevels,explainedEnglishteacherMs.Jones. Fosteringacommunity thatisresponsivetodata posedaninitialchallenge. Philosophically,everyone wasnotonboard. However, fostering a community that is responsive to data posed an initial challenge,accordingtoMs.Pardo.Philosophically,everyonewasnotonboard. She also had to ensure that some of our more veteran teachersfeel comfortableusingtechnologysuchasScantronandExcelspreadsheets. Administrators use the data to make some tough and touchy decisions on allocating resources, Ms. Pardo shared. If a program is not working, a leader must be willing to do something about it, even though everyone will not always like you, and you will not always be everyones best friend. Administrators rely on the schools mission statement to perform that allocationweareveryreflective,shesaid. Aspartofthatprocess,ifteachersarenotperformingwell,administratorsask why, and try to place them in classes where they can contribute the most because of who they are as teachers, not necessarily in the classes they may prefertoteach.Theresultisacontinuousdialogueinwhichadministratorsand facultytalkaboutwhatisworkingwellandwhatisnot;asMs.Pardoexplains, We are not afraid of saying something didnt work. We just ask, Whats next? Daily classroom procedures focus on the skills students need to pass high stakes exams, according to Ms. Allen, Math Department chair. Because they routinelypracticethoseskills,studentsarefamiliarwiththecontentwhenthey takethoseexams.Studentsmightsay,Ihaveanopenresponseformywarm up, for my homework, for my class assignment, so open responseI can do that,shenoted. 2009AGIConferenceReport 177|P a g e

Administratorsusedata tomaketoughdecisions onallocatingresources.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
StudentstakethePSATandtheDCCASinthe9thgrade,aspractice,Ms.Jones said. We dont wait until the end to give students highstakes tests. Tenthgraders then take the PSAT and CAS again, and the SAT. Students track andanalyzetheirowntestresults,creatingbargraphstoshowwhethertheir scoresarerisingorfalling.Itdoesntworkifadultskeepallthedata:kidshave tobeabigpartofit,Ms.Pardosaid.

C REATING A S TRUCTURED E NVIRONMENT FOR S TUDENTS


To support student achievement, the school provides a structured environment.Studentsoftenclaimtheywantfreedom,buttheyactuallyprefer a more structured approach, according to Ms. Allen. For example, school leaders have developed a set of expectations and rules that it expects every studenttofollow.Teachersandotherstaffmemberspostthoseexpectationsin all classrooms and throughout the building, and enforce them, to provide consistency. For example, if a policy says no chewing gunits the same in everyclassroom,Ms.Allensaid. Theschoolalsowantsstudentstoknowthatthereareconsequencesifthey fail to fulfill the schools requirements. For example, if students do not complete their homework, Teachers call them on that, according to Ms. Allen.Ifstudentsgetintotroubleandreceivedetention,theyattenddiscipline class,whichhelpsthemrealizethatOh,Imadeamistake,butthisiswhatI need to do. Students understand that the schools requirements are put in placesotheycanachieveandsucceed,shenoted.Teachersdonotholdtheir handanddoitforthem.Wearegoingtoguideyou,butweexpectyoutodo yourpart.Studentsalsoknowthattheirnameisattachedtowhateverthey do,andthatanythingtheydoinlifetheyshoulddowell,Ms.Allensaid.

AC OMMITTED F ACULTY
Committedteachersareakeypillarsupportingstudentachievement.Teachers have ownership over our own performance, as well as ownership over students performance, and we take that very seriously and personally, accordingtoMs.Jones.Itsnotjustourjob:weknowthatthismightbeour students last opportunity because of the environment that they live in, and howtheyaresegregatedfromtherestofthecity. Teachers designate formal office hours, when students can walk in and talk. Students know they can also talk with teachers and other staff members

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Staffmembersareat schoolfromearlyin themorninguntillate intheevening.Some teachersevencome inonSaturdays. outsidethosehours.Theschoolprovidesafterschooltutorialsandhomework helpinthelibrary,aswellasatremendousnumberofotherprograms. Staffmembersaresocommittedthattheyare[attheschool]fromearlyinthe morninguntillateintheevening,sheadded.Someteachersevencomeinon Saturdaystoaddressstudentsneeds.Studentsaresoappreciativeofthefact thatweareaccessible. Theschoolalsomaintainsanopendoorpolicy:teachersgoinandoutofeach others classrooms all the time, and no one is offended and feels as though theyarebeingviolatedthatisjustthecultureoftheschool,accordingto Ms.Jones. Unlike many other schools, Thurgood Marshall conducts two formal observationsperyeartoassessteachers,includingapreandpostobservation meeting. Numerous informal observations of teachers are also conducted throughouttheyear,whicharemorefromacoachingperspectiveanddonot requireformalpreandpostobservationmeetings;theyareusuallyfocusedon one or two adjustments that are needed. Evaluators do use a basic rubric to evaluate teachers to ensure that all are relying on the same criteria and terminology. Teachers are always talking about students according to Ms. Allen. Once teachersventaboutaproblem,theyask,Whatcanwedotoassiststudents? shesaid.Onethingwetalkaboutissolutions.Wecantalkabouttheproblem allday,butthesolutioniswhatgetsuswhereweneedtogo.

Theschoolmaintains anopendoorpolicy: teachersgoinand outofeachothers classroomsallthe timeandnooneis offended.

A NALYZING R ESULTS TO I MPROVE I NSTRUCTION


Teacherslookatwhat partofaword problemstudents dontunderstandand addressthosegaps. Mr.Murnaneaskedthepresenterstocommentonwhatusingdatatoinform instruction actually means. For example, if assessments show that algebra studentshavenotlearnedhowtodomultistepwordproblemsinvolvingtwo equations,eventhoughteachershavetaughtthatskill,howdotheyusethat information? Teachers go back and look at exactly what part of that word problemstudentsdonotunderstand,Ms.Allenresponded.Thatcarefulstep is important because students may actually know how to solve multistep equations.Theymayhavebeenconfusedbythewordingofaquestion,orthey maynotknowhowtoconvertafractiontoadecimal,becausetheylackbasic skills.Teachersthengobacktothedrawingboardtoaddressthosegaps,Ms. Allensaid.

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Mr.Connellaskedhowoftentheschoollooksatdataonstudentlearningina formal expected, accountable way, within or across content areas, rather than simply relying on idiosyncratic teachers who are just intensively interested. That analysis occurs every six weeks, based on teachermade examsaswellastheschoolsassessments,Ms.Jonesreplied. Wegothroughevery wrongexamitem, askingstudentswhy theyansweredthe waytheydid. Teachers examine both strands of content and the wording of questions, but ultimatelythestudentshavetotelluswhattheyneed,Ms.Jonesnoted.So weliterallygivethembacktheexamandgothrougheverysingleitem,asking studentswhytheyansweredthewaytheydid.Onlystudentscanshedlighton whytheygotsomethingwrong,orwhatquestiontheydidnotunderstand,she said. They might even report that they just had a bad day. Every single teacherinyourschooldoesthat?Mr.Connellasked.EverysingleEnglishand mathteacher,Ms.Jonesreplied. Ninth and 10thgrade social studies teachers have joined English teachers in analyzing test results, Ms. Pardo noted. The social studies teachers may then includealiteracycomponentsuchasopenresponseintheirassignmentsand assessments. That does not mean that those teachers are not teaching history, according to Ms. Jones. However, they may use an openresponse question to ask about Machiavelli. Teachers also discuss how to grade open responses,toensurethatwhatisexemplaryinEnglish10isalsoexemplaryin World History 10, and that they are all using the same language to give feedbacktostudents,Ms.Jonesadded. What is your strategy for reducing variation in an aspect of instruction that youthinkisveryimportant?Mr.Connellasked.Whatareyoudoingtoclose thegaptoensurethatmoreteachersareoperatingatthehighestlevel,and that teachers in the middle and at the bottom are moving up? All students must present portfolios every year to a panel of staff and faculty, Ms. Pardo responded, standing up for almost an hour and defending all the academic work they did that year. When teachers see what their colleagues and their students are doing, that does build peer pressure to excel, she noted. No teacherwantstobetheonewhoisgivingtheeasyEnglish9project.

Studentsmust presentportfolios everyyear;that buildspeer pressuretoexcel.

N O D UMBING D OWN
Mr. Connell asked what differentiated instruction means in this context. Do teachersusethesamepedagogywithstudentsworkingatdifferentlevels?Half of all students enter the school working at a 5thgrade level or below, Ms.

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Pardosaid,sowearetalkingaboutverylowfunctioningstudents.Theschool hasgottencreativewithschedulingforthosestudents. Forexample,theschoolallowssomestudentstotakehonorsEnglishormath whileotherstudentstakearemedialmathclassinadditiontoAlgebraI,ora reading resource class in addition to English 9. Those students may need to work on decoding and phonics, and we know that teachers cannot teach studentstodecodeinaregular9thgradeEnglishclassthatistoochallenging whenotherstudentscanread,Ms.Pardosaid. Theschoolavoidsloweringitsexpectationsormakingitscourseslessrigorous. Weknowthatifweofferalgebralite,thatmeansstudentsarenotprepared for geometry, they are not prepared for Algebra II, and theyre failing when theygotocollege,havingtotakeremedialmathorEnglish.Ourpolicytends tobe,IfyouwanttodoAP,youaregoingtodoAP,butbepreparedforwhat thatis,becausewearenotgoingtosay,Oh,I'msorry,youcan'tdotheessay, soyouarenotgoingtohavetoreadthese13novels. Yettheschooldoesnotgiveuponlaggingstudents:Wepullthosekidsoutfor extrasupport,Ms.Pardonoted.Ms.JonesandMs.Allenalsoworkwiththose studentsintensivelyafterschool,shesaid.Bothteachersandstudentsmustbe willingtoputinextratime,becauseitcantallhappenin45,60,90minutes, especially with our lowestfunctioning students, while we also challenge our mostacademicallygiftedstudents. Mr.Fergusonaskedwhethertheschoolreliesondailyformative assessments to monitor student learning. Teachers may give students daily exit assessments, Ms. Allen acknowledged, because they often want to know whether students have understood a lesson, to decide whether to move on. Although students may complain, teachers underscore that they are using thoseexercisestobuildstudentsabilitytodothework,shesaid.Forexample, A teacher might say, Im going to walk you through the problem first, and thenyouaregoingtodoitwithapartner.Wearegoingtodiscussit,andthen youaregoingtodoitbyyourself,andImgoingtolookatit.

Teachersandstudents mustbewillingtoput inextratime,because itcantallhappenin 45,60,90minutes.

E NGAGING S TUDENTS AND T EACHERS


Howcomfortableareyouwiththelevelofactivestudentengagementinyour classes?Mr.Fergusonasked,onascaleofonetoten,iftenisthehighest.For us,it'saseven,Ms.Allensaid,becauseourkidsknowthattheteachersare thereforthemandwantthemtolearn,andthattheyhavehighexpectations. Sowhenstudentsenterthebuilding,theyareready,andwhentheyareinthe 2009AGIConferenceReport 181|P a g e

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class they know what they have to do: they have to learn, they have to be involved, they have to participate. They cannot put their heads on the desk andsleep. IfMs.Pardoacceptedaleadershippositionatamoretypicalurbanschool,Mr. Ferguson asked, What are the most important things you would do? How would you enter as a new principal? I would come in saying [to teachers], We are all in this together, and these are my standards, these are my expectations,andI'mnotloweringthemtofityou.Wearealleithergoingto beonboardornot.Soifyoufeelasthoughyouarenotgoingtobewithme, thenweneedtomakeadecisiontogetherthatyougosomewhereelse.'

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15. M ANOR N EW T ECHNOLOGY H IGH S CHOOL


CASESTUDY: MANORNEW TECHNOLOGY HIGHSCHOOL MANOR,TX

P R E S EN T E RS :
StevenZipkes,FoundingPrincipal MaryMobley,EnglishProjectBasedInstructor ChrystaCarlin,MasterTeacher,TeacherAdvancementProgram

ASTUDENTCENTERED PROJECTBASED LEARNINGMODEL LINKEDTOSTATE STANDARDS

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JonSaphier,ResearchforBetterTeaching RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit15.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Other %Free Lunch 56.3% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)


White Black Hispanic Asian

Manor

32.9%

21.7%

43.8%

1.7%

0.0%

TX(all grades)

34.0%

14.2%

47.9%

3.6%

3.0%

56.7%

NumberofStudentsatManorNewTechnology:240
Source:TexasEducationAgencyAcademicExcellenceIndicatorSystem. (http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/index.html).CompiledfortheJune2009 annualconferenceoftheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity.


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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


Manor New Technology High School, in a town near Austin with a high proportionofLatinofamilies,reopeneditsdoorsin2007afterbeingclosedfor restructuring. Any student who lives in the district can apply to the school, whichreliesonalotterytoadmititsroughly400students.Manorisamember of the New Tech Network.62Manor New Technology High School is only a few yearsold.Itisoneofanewcropofprojectbasedschoolsthatmayeventually changethewaythatAmericadoeshighschool.Achievementgainsinitsthird year of operation were quite impressive compared to 39 demographically comparableschools. Exhibit 15.2 on the next page shows gains in English Language Arts (ELA) for 20072008. Each bar in the diagram represents a school. The rankings are basedontheaverageTexasGrowthIndex(TGI)scoreforallstudentsinagiven school in School Year 20072008. The TGI is a measure used to estimate growth in individual student achievement in two consecutive years over two consecutivegrades;itiscalculatedseparatelyformathandELA. Exhibit 15.2 is based on published reports from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website. It shows that Manor New Technologys ELA score gains from 2007to2008wereveryimpressivecomparedtosimilarschools.However,not shown, is that gains reported the following year were not so impressive. The reasonsareunclear.Indeed,recentcomparisonsreportedontheTEAwebsite appearunstableformanyhighschools.Thisisdifficulttounderstandifthegain calculationshavebeendonecorrectly. Ultimately,ourdecisiontoretainManorNewTechnologyinthisreportonhigh performing schools is based upon the quality of the conference presentation andtheinnovativenatureoftheinstructionalprogramthattheschooldelivers. Itwillbeimportanttofollowtheprogressofthisyoungprojectbasedschool andotherslikeitastheyendeavortoreinventhowtheUnitedStatesdoeshigh school.
62.FoundedinNapa,California,in1996,theNewTechNetworkismadeupof41 schoolsinninestates.Formoreinformationvisithttp://www.newtechfoundation.org/.

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Exhibit15.2 ELAGrowthatManorvs.SimilarTexasSchools20072008 Manor

Source:TexasEducationAgency.http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/ index.html[TexasEducationAgency,AcademicExcellenceIndicatorSystem].Compiled fortheJune2009annualconferenceoftheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvard University.

AT EACHER D EVELOPED P ROJECT C URRICULUM


Teachersdevelop studentprojects,each ofwhichhasa realworldcontext. At Manor, students use computerbased projectsrather than textbooks and canned curriculato learn, practice, and apply skills required by state standards. Teachers develop the projects, each of which has a realworld context,accordingtoEnglishprojectbasedinstructorMs.Mobley. Aninstructionalrubricforeachprojectspecifiesthestandardsstudentsmust meet tobecomeproficientandadvancedintheskillsandknowledgethe project is designed to convey. The rubric also details the attributes of an unsatisfactoryproject,sheexplained.Exhibit15.3onthenextpageillustrates howaprojectassignmenttobuildaplanetislinkedtoastateEnglishstandard.

N INE L EARNING O UTCOMES E QUAL 21 ST C ENTURY S KILLS


Theprojectsfocusonninelearningoutcomesdesignedtoprovide21stcentury skills, the principal Mr. Zipkes explained. These nine learning outcomes, described in Exhibit 15.4, include hard skills such as content mastery and critical thinking as well as soft skills like work ethic, collaboration, and communityengagement. A key skill is oral communication: students must present every project to a panel,whichincludespeoplefrombusinessandotherprofessionsfromoutside theschoolabout80percentofthetime.Mr.Zipkesnotedthathehasbeena highschoolprincipalalongtime,andthatinhisexperiencestudentsatmost

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Exhibit15.3 Example:InstructionalRubricforaProject

Source:FromManorspresentationtotheAGIconference

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Exhibit15.4 NineSchoolwideLearningOutcomes Studentdemonstratescommitmenttohis/her team,personalresponsibilitiesandtasks.

WorkEthic

Studenteffectivelyexpressesandconstructs WrittenCommunication ideasinwritingclearly,concisely,and correctlytoavarietyofaudiences. OralCommunication Studentspeakscorrectly,eloquently,and effectivelybeforeavarietyofaudiencesfor multiplepurposes. Studentgathers,analyzes,andsynthesizes informationinavarietyofcontexts. Studentactivelyandrespectfullycontributes toateamtosolveproblemswhileworking towardacommongoal. Studentappliescomputation,measurement, estimation,anddataevaluationinvarious settings.

CriticalThinking

Collaboration

Numeracy

Studentexploresdifferentperspectiveson GlobalandCommunity global,cultural,andlocalissuesandvalues, Engagement leadingtoactioninhis/hercommunity. TechnologyLiteracy Studentselectsandutilizesappropriate technologytoeffectivelyperformavarietyof tasks. Studentgradereflectsthestudent expectations,TexasEssentialKnowledgeand Skills(TEKS),acquiredincontentarea.

Content

Source:FromManorspresentationtotheAGIconference

schoolsgivethreeorfourspeechestheirentirehighschoolcareer,unlessthey take a speech class or join a debate team. Manor students, in contrast, averaged61publicpresentationslastyear,sotheyarelearningspeakingskills aswellascoursecontent.

P RO J EC T S A R E C RO S S C U R RI CU LA R
Since many of Manors classes integrate more than one subject, the projects arecrosscurricular,accordingtoMr.Zipkes.Forexample,theschoolintegrates 2009AGIConferenceReport 187|P a g e

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HumanitieswithELA,AlgebraIwithPhysicsandChemistry,andAlgebraIIwith Physics. And because students take five classes, they work on five projects simultaneously.Onanygivenday,theymaylaunchoneproject,doresearchon another,andpresentathird.Althoughstudentsmaydosomeindividualwork oneachproject,theyuseaSMARTBoard(aninteractivewhiteboard)63anda map editor tool to work largely in groups of two to four. The projects allow students to take charge of their own learning, and collaboration is the most importantpiece,saidMr.Zipkes. Teachersleadthe studentsthrougha processofidentifying theprojectknows andneedtoknows.

L AU N C HI NG A P RO J E CT
Tograbstudentsattentionandhighlightthecontentandskillstheywilllearn by completing a project, teachers provide an entry document, said Ms. Mobley.Teachersleadthestudentsthroughaprocessofidentifyingtheproject knowsandneedtoknowsfromtheentrydocumentfortheplanetproject, asExhibit15.5belowillustrates. Forexample,theentrydocumentforaprojectspecifiesitsmainfocusandthe content it will cover, as well as the date on which students must present the project. The entry document also poses the questions students must answer andasksabouttheformattheywillusetologtheirdata. The teacher captures all this information for the project on a SMART Board, andpostsitonlineinaprojectbriefcase,whichstudentscanaccessatschool orathome. Exhibit15.5 ProjectEntryDocument:KnowsandNeedtoKnows
KNOW Logistics Content NEED TO KNOW Logistics Content

Present on Oct.
15, 2007

Landforms are
natural structures on the surface of the Earth

In what format will What is The


the data log be? Odyssey?

Need to re-create
a planet

Who will be on
the planet?

What makes up
climate?

What makes up
habitat?

Source:FromManorspresentationtotheAGIconference

63.FormoreinformationonSMARTBoardinteractivewhiteboards,visithttp:// smarttech.com.

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H OW T EACHERS G UIDE S TUDENTS


SMARTBoardsgive immediatefeedback andallowteachersto differentiatethehelp theygivetostudents. SMART Boards, which are interactive white boards, give teachers immediate feedback on what's working and what's not working in the classroom, said masterteacherMs.Carlin.Althoughstudentsmoveattheirownpaceonthe projects,theysometimesgetstuckandneeddirection.Atthatpoint,teachers may hold miniworkshops to help those students, while others continue working on their projects. So this technology allows teachers to differentiate thehelptheygivetostudentsintheclassroom,shenoted. The technology also allows teachers to give students immediate feedback on both project content and work ethicwhich accounts for 20 percent of a students grade in all classes, she said. For example, teachers may use the SMART Board to see which groups are completing their work and which are not. Teachers may then set clear expectations regarding the work students shouldcompletebytheendofaclassperiodandaweek. Teachers also use quizzes and tests to determine whether students have learned the skills and concepts a project was designed to teach. They then analyzetheresultingdatatoseehowtheycanimprovetheirprojects.Overall, teachers shift among teaching, facilitating, and coaching, according to Ms. Carlin.

T HE T EACHER A DVANCEMENT P ROGRAM


ManorsTeacher AdvancementProgram isbasedonfourpillars designedtoworkwith itsprojectbased instruction. Ms. Carlin explained that Manors Teacher Advancement Program (TAP)64 is basedonfourpillarsdesignedtoworkwithitsprojectbasedinstructionshown inExhibit15.6.Thefirstpillarisprofessionaldevelopment,whichoccursduring cluster meetings enabled by a late start on Monday mornings. At those meetings,teachersfromdifferentcontentareastalkaboutwhat'sworkingand what'snotworkingintheclassroomandhowtoimproveinstruction,basedon datafromtheprojectsandotherassessments. Masterandmentorteachersknowwhichstrategyameetingwillfocuson,and theybringinstudentworktohelpanalyzethatstrategy.Thisenableseveryone todecidewhethertocontinuewiththeapproachortoconsideranewone. The second pillar is multiple career paths, said Ms. Carlin. In this system, mentorteachershavetheirownclassroomsbutalsoserveasmentorstoother
64.TAPisacomprehensiveschoolreformthatrestructuresandrevitalizesthe teachingprofessionwithagoaltoachievemeasurablegainsinstudentperformance.

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Exhibit15.6 TheFourPillarsofTAP

Source:BasedonManorspresentationtotheAGIconference

teachers,whoareknownascareerteachers.Masterteachers,inturn, donot have their own classesthey teach a maximum of 20 percent of the time. Instead, they are available to work with all teachers regularly in their classroomsoninstruction. Master teachers also lead the cluster meetings on Monday mornings. As a master teacher, Ms. Carlin said that she tries to build relationships with teachers so they see her as one of them, which she is: she taught secondary scienceforsevenyears.Assheworkswithteachersintheirclassrooms,shelets them know that she also faced challenges and difficulties. When she finds a strategythatisresearchbased,teacherstrustthatshewillnotsetthemupfor failureandthateveryoneisworkingtowardthesamegoal. Thethirdpillarisinstructionallyfocusedaccountability.Teachersareevaluated threetimesayearbytheprincipal,amentor,andamasterteacher,basedon instructionalrubricsspellingoutbestpractices. The fourth pillar is performance pay, based on valueadded as measured by threegoalseachyear,accordingtoMs.Carlin. Goal1:StateTestScores This goal is based on student proficiencies on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). All teachers are aware of the improvements in scores instructional leaders wouldliketoseestudentsachieveonTAKS by theendof the year. Goal2:DistrictBenchmarks The school also sets an annual goal for student progress in meetingdistricteducationalbenchmarks.

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Goal3:ClusterCycleGoals Cluster cycle goals apply to student results on teachermade assessments and drive professional development during the cluster meetings. The creators of the TAP approach suggest designatingamasterteacherforevery15careerteachers,soa clustermeetingneverincludesmorethanthatnumber. Instructional leaders at Manor are still trying to figure out how best to mesh projectbasedlearningwithTAP,Ms.Mobleysaid.Doingsoisdifficultbecause thelatteris designedfor amoretraditionalhighschool.However,leadersdo give teachers feedback on their implementation of projectbased learning at theendofeachyear. Mr. Ferguson asked whether TAP works at larger schools. According to Ms. Carlin,elementary,middle,andhighschoolsthroughouttheUnitedStatesare adopting Teacher Advancement Programs that include cluster meetings and instructionallyfocusedaccountability,sothatapproachisnotuniquetosmaller schools.

D ATA D RIVEN D ECISION M AKING


Manor trains all its teachers to use a dataanalysis tool to examine students resultsonstatetestsandteachermadeassessments,Ms.Carlinexplained.This tool reveals the specific concepts and skills teachers need to address with all their students as well as particular students. For example, the dataanalysis tool may show that students did not do well on a certain question, and that most students who got the answer wrong chose B. During cluster meetings, masterteacherscanask,Whatstatestandardwasthatquestiondesignedto measure,andwhatcanyoudoinyourclassroomtohelpyourstudentsmeet thatstandard? Manyteachersfoundthisprocessdifficultatfirst,becausetheyregardedtests assimplypass/fail,saidMs.Carlin.Instructionalleadershadtoclarifythatit's okay if kids dont do well on testsit's more important to figure out how teachersandstaffcanhelpthemimprove.

U SING R ESEARCH B ASED S TRATEGIES


Oncethestaffdeterminesthespecificskillsstudentsneedtoacquire,master teachers find researchbased strategies that teachers can use to teach those skills,accordingtoMs.Carlin.Masterteachersthenfieldtestthenewstrategy: 2009AGIConferenceReport 191|P a g e

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theymaymodelteachitinaclassroom,useittocoteachalessonwithcareer teachers,observecareerteacherswhiletheyusethestrategy,orpullstudents outofaclassroomandteachagrouplesson. Themasterteachersassessstudentsbeforeandaftertheintervention,toseeif the strategy helped them improve. If it did, the master teachers use cluster meetings to train all teachers to use the new strategy and expect them to implementitwiththehelpofthemasterteachers,Ms.Carlinexplained. Master teachers expect all teachers to use each strategy because it advances Manorsschoolwidelearningoutcomes.Forexample,iftheschoolisfocusing on numeracy, students do math in every classroom, including during English andsocialstudies.Similarly,iftheschoolisfocusingonliteracy,studentswork onwrittencommunicationinmath,physicaleducation,andhealthclasses.

Masterteachers expectallteachers touseeachnew strategy.

B UILDING A S KILLFUL AND C OMMITTED F ACULTY


Mr. Ferguson asked whether teachers take formal courses to learn how to create projects. Mr. Zipkes responded that the entire faculty attends a projectbasedlearninginstituteeachsummer.Theschooldoesnotsimplysend department heads because it does not have department heads, he said: the faculty attends as a team. The institute trains teachers to teach engineering acrossthecurriculum,forexample. Mr.FergusonaskedhowManorsinstructionalleadersmotivateandempower teacherstobecreativeindevelopingprojects.Mr.Zipkesobservedthatmost schoolssimplyhandteachersatextbookandtellthemtofollowalong.When teacherswritetheirowncurriculum,theycanbecreativeinlinkingtheirideas to realworld situations and state standards. Although that is a lot of work, teachersloveit,hesaid.Theproof:duringMr.Zipkesstwoyearsasprincipal, Manorhasseen100percentteacherretention. Teachersalsoknowthattheschoolisstrivingforthestatesexcellentrating Mr. Zipkes says he has instilled that goal from the beginning. During the first twoyears,teachersdidnotbelievetheycouldreachit.Butbecausetheschool has had some success, teachers have now embraced that goal as a collegial group,headded. Mr. Ferguson asked how the school gauges whether teachers have digested and embraced the approach to project design. Participants peerreview projects at the cluster meetings on Monday mornings, Mr. Zipkes replied. Teacherspresenttheirprojects,andtherestofthestaffusesacriticalfriends 192|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Whenteacherswrite theirowncurriculum, theycanbecreativein linkingtheirideasto realworldsituations andstatestandards.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
Teacherspresenttheir projects,andtherest ofthestaffusesa criticalfriends approachtocritique. approach to critique them and determine whether they fulfill the schools standards.

H A ND LI NG R E S I STA N CE
Mr.Saphierobservedthattheschoolalsotrainsallteacherstoanalyzedatato figureoutwhetherkidsarehavingaproblem.Yourjobthenistobe,asIhear it, the head inquirer, right? he asked Ms. Carlin. You've got to figure out somethingtosolvetheproblem,butyouaregoingtogoinandtestitfirst,not knowingifit'sgoingtosucceed,isthatright? Correct,repliedMs.Carlin.

Becausemaster teachersadopta strategyonlyafter fieldtestingit, teachersknowit workswithManor students.

Then,whenyoufinallycomeupwithsomethingthateverybodyisexpectedto do,that'sdisseminatedthroughclustermeetings,Mr.Saphierconfirmed.IfI amateacher,howcanitworkifMs.CarlindiscoversthestrategythatIhaveto implement?heasked. Mr.Zipkesrepliedthathehadthegoodfortunetohirealltheteachersinthe school, so they are passionate about school reform and committed to projectbasedlearning.Andtheschoolsleadershipisveryflat:everyoneplays anactiverole.Whenaschoolgivesteachersthatkindofresponsibility,buyin goesthroughtheroof,hesaid. EventhoughMr.Zipkeshandpickedthestaff,someteachersmusthavefound that projectbased learning was not what they expected, Mr. Saphier responded.Heasked Mr.Zipkeshowhehandlesateacherwhosays,Look,I knowChrystaisagoodteacher,andshecameupwithagoodstrategy,butI'm goingtodoitmywayorsomeotherformofresistance? Becausemasterteachersadoptastrategyonlyafterfieldtestingit,Mr.Zipkes said, teachers know it works with Manor students, not just with students somewhereinthestate.Soteacherspushthemselvesnotonlytounderstand studentdatabutalsotolearnspecificapproachestoteaching. Also,Mr.Zipkesnoted,heistheprincipalcoachforallthehighschoolsinthe district,soheknowswhattheyarelike.Hemakesitcleartoteachersthatthey can move to another school, but they may not like it, and he will not invite themback. Also, all the walls in the school are made of glass, so he can observe what's goingonineveryroomteacherscannotshutthedoorandhidebehindit,Mr. Zipkessaid.Ifheseesaclassinwhichstudentsarenotmovingortalking,he knowsthereisanissue.

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AW I LL I NG N E S S TO D O T H E E X TR A W O R K
Mr.Murnaneobservedthatthelighthouseschools(bywhichhemeantKIPP Schools) he referred to earlier in the conference rely on young teachers who arewillingtowork24/7forafewyears,untiltheirownkidscome.Thenthey just cannot sustain that commitment. He asked whether the teaching jobs at Manoraresustainableoveranextendedperiodoftime. Manorstressesthe amountofworkthat's requiredwhen interviewing prospectivenew teachers. Manor stresses the amount of work that is required when interviewing prospective new teachers, Ms. Carlin said.However, she does find thatwhen teachersseetheresultsofManorsapproach,theyarereluctanttoreturntoa traditionalsetting.ThisistrueforMs.Carlinherself:evenifshedidreturnto suchasetting,shewouldneverteachthesamewayagain,sheattested. Sheisasinglemotherwhoputsinlonghours,butshebelievesintheManor approachsomuchthathersonnowattendstheschool.Shehasobservedthe samepassionamongtheschoolsotherteachers.Althoughtheschoolhasseen five new babies born to a staff of 22, the teachers are still committed to the workbecausetheyseetheresults,shesaid. Whenteacherssee theresultsof Manorsapproach, theyarereluctant toreturntoa traditionalsetting. Ms.Mobleyagreed:althoughtheManorapproachisalotofwork,shecannot imagineteachinginatraditionalclassroomagain.Wheneversomeonecomes and tours our school, I always tell them when I was teaching in a traditional school,myhusbandwouldsaythatifI'minbedafter9:00p.m.,somethingis wrong. Now he says that if I'm in bed before midnight, something is wrong, because I am constantly working, finding new resources, new materials, learningmyself,tryingtofindthingsforthestudents. But it is exciting to me because I get to learn a lot of new things about the material. I am learning a new subject at the same time, since I teach an integratedEnglishandhistoryclass.So,yes,it'salotofwork,butit'snotwork.

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16. L EE H IGH S CHOOL


CASESTUDY: LEEHIGHSCHOOL HOUSTON,TX

P R E S EN T E RS :
SteveAmstutz,Principal65 LindsayNiedergeses,LiteracyCoach NikkiKelley,AssistantPrincipal

SCHOOLWIDEFOCUS ONSTUDENT ENGAGEMENTAND DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION

I N T E RV I E WE RS :
JimConnell,InstituteforResearchandReforminEducation RichardMurnane,HarvardGraduateSchoolofEducation

ViewtheVideo (RealplayerFormat)

S T U D E NT D E M O G R A PH I C P RO F ILE
Exhibit16.1 RacialComposition Poverty Rate Asian Other %Free Lunch 90.9% StudentCharacteristicsfor2009

White

Black

Hispanic

LeeHigh TX(all grades)

3.9%

14.3%

77.4%

4.4%

0.0%

34.0%

14.2%

47.9%

3.6%

3.0%

56.7%

NumberofStudentsatLeeHigh:1,928
Source:BasedondatafromtheTexasAssessmentofKnowledgeandSkills(TAKS) http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/index.html[TexasEducationAgency, AcademicExcellenceIndicatorSystem]CompiledfortheJune2009annualconference oftheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity.

65.StevenAmstutzisnowtheDirectorofAcademicServicesfortheHouston IndependentSchoolDistrictinTexas.

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M EETING THE A CHIEVEMENT C HALLENGE


LeeHighSchoolinHoustoneducatessome1,900studentswhocomefrom70 countries and speak 40 different languages. English is a third or fourth language for many of our students, and 42 percent are identified as English language learners, according to Mr. Amstutz, principal. Our most recent groupofstudents,nowimmigratingtousfromveryruralareasofAfrica,speak alanguagethatisnotyetwritten. Justaschallenging, thehighschoolseesa38percentstudentturnoverevery yearit'saconstantchurnofyoungpeople,Mr.Amstutzsaid.Needlessto say, that's hard on teachers, but it's so much more difficult for the young peoplethemselves. Over90percentofLeeHighSchoolsstudentsareblackandHispanic.Itisalso among the highest poverty schools not only in Texas but in the nation, with overninetypercentqualifyingforfreeandreducedpricemeals.Nonetheless, in just a few years, the school reduced by almost 50 percent their English LanguageArts(ELA)andmathproficiencygapsrelativetothestateasawhole. (SeeExhibit16.2). Exhibit16.2 SpringProficiencyGapsbetweenLeeHighandStateofTexas

Source:BasedondatafromtheTexasAssessmentofKnowledgeandSkills(TAKS) http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/index.html[TexasEducationAgency, AcademicExcellenceIndicatorSystem]CompiledfortheJune2009annualconference oftheAchievementGapInitiativeatHarvardUniversity.

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WhileExhibit16.2showsthatLeehasmadeprogressoverthepastfiveyears, theschoolstillfallsshortofmeetingTexasmandatoryperformancestandards for graduation rates. With 38 percent annual student turnover and low skill levelsamongincomingstudents,itisdifficulttoknowwhatgraduationrateis reasonabletoexpect.

T HREE C ORE S TRATEGIES


For nearly nine years, Lee High School has focused on three core strategies, illustrated in Exhibit 16.3, to improve instruction and raise student achievement. The school has created eight small learning communities, each based on a theme such as health and medicine, the performing arts, or businessandfinance. Exhibit16.3 ThreeCoreStrategies

Source:FirstThingsFirst:Theory,Research,andPractice.Connell,J.P.,Klem,A.M., Lacher,T.,Leiderman,S.,&Moore,W.,withDeci,E.(2009).InstituteforResearchand ReforminEducation.

1. Change Relationships. Thefirststrategyfocusesonstrengthening relationships between teachers and students, teachers and teachers, and teachers and parents. Every student is assigned an advocatea caring adult who knows them well and pays attentiontothemthroughouttheirentiretimeatLeeHighSchool, whether four weeks or seven years. The school has also developedastrongfamilyadvocacysystem. 2. Improve Teaching and Learning. The second strategy was the adoption of a framework through which instruction could be viewedandusefulclassroomdatacouldbecollectedandanalyzed. 2009AGIConferenceReport 197|P a g e

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3. FocusResources.Thethirdstrategywhichmaybejustasdifficult, Mr. Amstutz saidis to focus all our resources on the first two strategies.Thatmeanssayingno toalotof[efforts]thatwould distractusfromworkaroundthosefirsttwo.

E NGAGEMENT ,A LIGNMENT , AND R IGOR


After staff members found that they were gathering lots of information, but didnothaveanygoodwaytoaggregatethattomakeanysenseofwhatwas happening across the school, leaders also developed an instructional frameworkcomposedofthreecoreconstructs,Mr.Amstutzsaid.Exhibit16.4 illustrates those constructsengagement, alignment, and rigorwhich have becomepartoftheschoolslanguage. Exhibit16.4 Engagement,Alignment,andRigor(EAR)

Teachers,teachingcoaches, andadministratorsask:Does thislessonplanspurstudent engagement?Isitalignedwith otherlessonsinitstimingand difficulty?Doesithave appropriatelevelsofrigor?

Source:TheToughestNuttoCrack:FirstThingsFirst.Connell,J.P.&Broom,J.(2004). InstituteforResearchandReforminEducation

For example, the constructs provide a standard for planning and evaluating lessons,hesaid.Teachers,teachingcoaches,andadministratorsask:Doesthis lesson plan spur student engagement? Is it aligned with other lessons in its timinganddifficulty?Doesithaveappropriatelevelsofrigor?

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M EAS U RI NG E N GAGEM E N T
Theschoolalsousesthoseconceptstomeasureclassroompracticeanddrive professionaldevelopment.Forexample,whenassistantprincipals,instructional coordinators,teachingcoaches,andteacherpeersvisitclassrooms,theycollect dataonseveralsubindicatorsforeachconstruct,accordingtoMr.Amstutz.For example,observersdefineengagementasmorethanjustparticipation,asking: Arestudentscognitively,emotionally,andphysicallyengagedinalesson,and likingit? After conducting some 448 classroom visits across the school, observers aggregate the resulting information and evaluate it from different vantage points. For example, as shown in Exhibit 16.5, they may determine the percentage of classrooms that meet the threshold for engagement, and ask whetherstudentsaremoreengagedinmathclassesthaninweldingclasses.If theyfindthatstudentsareengagedin68percentofclassrooms,thatmeansa third of our classrooms are not particularly engaging, and that's a bit troubling,Mr.Amstutzsaid. Exhibit16.5 SampleonEngagementfromaReport

Source:FromtheLeeHighpresentationtotheAGIConference

Theobserversmayalsoconsiderhownewerteachersarefaringonthethree constructs compared with experienced teachers. School leaders then determine how to be smarter about the way we teach, and address any deficiencies through coaching and professional development, based on the needsofbothstudentsandteachers.

A S S E S S I N G R I GO R
The school defines rigor as 100 percent of students in a classroom showing mastery of material at or above grade level. For a sample on rigor from a report,seeExhibit16.6onthenextpage.Becausethatstandardissodifficult 2009AGIConferenceReport 199|P a g e

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tomeet,Mr.Amstutzexplained,observerssharerawdatathegood,thebad, andsometimesthevery,veryuglywithteachers. Observers have found that teachers do a good job of choosing classroom materials that meet the standard for rigor, he said. However, if we assess whether teachers actually require students to perform at that level, the percentagedropsdramatically. To support greater rigor, the school focuses teacher development on one or twoinstructionaltechniquesthatwewillworkonforanentireyear,sowecan ensurethattheyareclearlyincorporatedintoourpractice,Mr.Amstutzsaid. Suchprofessionaldevelopmentincludesaclearinstructionalplanforindividual teacherspluscoaching. Exhibit16.6 SampleonRigorfromaReport

Teachersdoagoodjobof choosingclassroom materialsthatmeetthe standardforrigor, however,ifweassess whetherteachersactually requirestudentsto performatthatlevel,the percentagedrops dramatically.

Staffmembersmeet ofteninsmalllearning communitiestotalk aboutpedagogyand students,andincontent teamstotalkabout specificsubjects.

Source:FromtheLeeHighpresentationtotheAGIConference

Staff members also meet often in small learning communities to talk about bothpedagogyandstudents,andmeetincontentteamstotalkaboutspecific subjects.Thereisconstantbuthealthytensionbetweenthosetwotypesof meetings,accordingto Mr.Amstutz.Contentloverswanttohavemoretime with other math or science teachers, while other staff members want more timeintheirsmalllearningcommunity.Theschoolalsobringsinconsultants, 2009AGIConferenceReport

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partners,andorganizationstohelpusstrategicallyaddresstheareastargeted forimprovement,hesaid.

E N S U RI NG R I GO R
What is your strategy for reducing variation in an aspect of instruction that youthinkisveryimportant?Mr.Connellasked.Thatis,Whatareyoudoing to close the gapto ensure that more teachers are operating at the highest level,andthatteachersinthemiddleandatthebottomaremovingup?The engagement, alignment, and rigor instructional framework has helped make teachingmoreconsistent,Ms.Kelleysaid.Studentengagement,inparticular, has become more uniform across the school, because the staff has been workinghardonthatforalongtime.However,thereisstillgreatvariationin rigoracrossthecampus. Ensuring that 100 percent of students in a classroom master work at their grade level is a very high threshold, she noted. That standard means that eachsmalllearningcommunityandtheentireschoolalwayshavesomething to improve on. Participants in instructional meetings spend a lot of time looking at student work and asking: Is this truly rigorous work? Or is a particular lesson plan really pushing the kids? If the answer is no, then what? Mr. Ferguson asked. Coaches may work with teachers, Ms. Kelley responded,orsheherselfmaytalkwiththem.Shemightalsosolicitfeedback onsamplelessonplansduringmeetingsofhersmalllearningcommunity.The result is that much feedback to teachers comes from their peers. We are findingthatthemorewehavetheseopenconversations,themorehonestand themoreacceptedthefeedbackis,shesaid. Mr.Fergusonaskedwhetheranyonefollowsupandmonitorstheprogressofa teacher whose teaching is not rigorous, and who peers are trying to help. Sure,Ms.Kelleyresponded.Iftheteachingdeficiencycontinues,eventually it becomes more of a supervisory issue. If coaches, peer observations, and peer feedback have not produced results, it's the role of the supervising administratortotakesomeaction,ashardasthatfrequentlyistodo,shesaid.

Participantsin instructionalmeetings spendalotoftimelooking atstudentworkand asking:Isthisrigorous work?Isaparticular lessonplanreallypushing thekids?

Iffeedbackhasnot producedresults,it'sthe roleofthesupervising administratortotake someaction,ashardas thatistodo.

K EY M EASURES T HAT A NSWER K EY Q UESTIONS


Beyond the classroom observations, the school relies on concrete data to evaluate how students are doing. We try to keep our data analysis simple, askingafewkeyquestions,Mr.Amstutzsaid.Onekeymeasureisattendance. However, we don't look at the average daily attendance at Lee High School, becauseitreallydoesn'tmatter,hesaid.Ifyouhave90percentattendance,

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that does not tell you who is coming every day and who is almost never coming. The question at Lee is, what percentage of students have 90 percent attendance or better, and what percentage of students have 70 percent attendanceorless?Ourapproachtothosetwogroupsofstudentsisradically different. The school tries to keep the formatof suchinformation consistent soteachers,parents,andstudentscanreadilyunderstandit,hesaid.

Mathteachersmight analyzedataand developactionplans virtuallyeverytimethey meetasacontent grouptwiceamonth, orfiveorsixtimesa semester.

U SING D ATA TO I MPROVE I NSTRUCTION


Mr. Ferguson asked how often staff members use data to assess instruction. Several times a semester, Ms. Niedergeses responded. The district provides benchmarkdataonstudentachievementeverysixweeks,andsometeachers havetheirownbenchmarkingsystem.However,thefrequencywithwhichstaff members examine the information varies by department. For example, math teachersmightanalyzedataanddevelopactionplansvirtuallyeverytimethey meet as a content grouptwice a month, or five or six times a semester whileotherdepartmentsmightdosolessoften.Teachersalsoanalyzedataon specificstudentseachmonthduringcommonplanningtime,shesaid. What does using data to inform instruction actually mean? Mr. Murnane asked. For example, if assessments show that algebra students have not learned how to do multistep word problems involving two equations, even though teachers have taught that skill, how do they use those data? Information on student achievement often raises far more questions than it answers, Mr. Amstutz acknowledged. Staff members first try to understand whatthedataaretellingus,suchaswhetheraproblemconcernsacoupleof students,aparticularclassroom,oranentiresubjectarea. Thesecondstepisdetermininghowbesttorespondtothatproblem.Teachers might reteach a topic or provide an afterschool tutorial, for example. Asking teacherstoreteachisincrediblychallenging,heobserved,becauseteachers alreadyworkfulltimeteachinganoverloadedcurriculum.Then,ifthechosen solution does not solve the problem,you go back to the drawingboard and youtryagain.

AS MALL L EARNING C OMMUNITY


As an assistant principal responsible for one of Lees small learning communities, Ms. Kelley concurred that looking at the framework of engagement,alignment,andrigorgivesusallacommonlanguagewithwhich 202|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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Professionaldevelopment occursonceaweekforall teachersduring 90minutemeetingsof smalllearning communities. tospeakaboutwhatqualityinstructionreallylookslike.That'simportantfor meinasupervisoryandsupportiverole,becausewhenI'mtalkingtoteachers about instruction, I know from the beginning that we are all on the same page.Thoseconstructsalsoallowhertocollaboratewithinstructionalcoaches inhelpingteachersdeveloptheirpractice,shesaid. Professional development occurs once a week for all teachers during 90 minutemeetingsofsmalllearningcommunities.Ms.Kelleycofacilitatesthose meetingswithMs.Niedergeses,orsupportsateacherasheorshestepsinto a leadership role in presenting a particular piece of professional development.ThesecondweeklymeetingtheoneledbyMs.Niedergeses is sacred and devoted to the professional development of a small group of teachers. Data on academic outcomes enable Ms. Kelley to consider her small learning community,whichincludes300students,fromavarietyofangles,shesaid.For example, I can look at data for 9thgraders, I can look at data in Ms. Baer's worldgeographyclass,Icanlookatthelistofstudentswhoarenotcomingto schoolregularly,orwhomaybefailingoneormoreclassesandrequiresome kind of group intervention. She uses that information to provide immediate feedbacktoteachersandstudents,allowingstaffmemberstointervenewhen needed.

Oneofmyfavorite waystocollaborate withteachersisto coplanwiththem.

AD AY IN THE L IFE OF AN I NSTRUCTIONAL C OACH


AsaliteracycoachatLee,Ms.Niedergesesdevelopsteachersskillstosupport engagement,alignment,andrigor.Thatframeworkgivesmeavocabularyfor talkingwithteachersarounddevelopinginstruction,andalsoprovidesalens throughwhichtoobserveteachersintheirclassrooms,shesaid.However,she doesnotusethoseconceptsasanevaluationtool,becauseshewantsteachers toregardherasapeercollaborator. Oneofmyfavoritewaystocollaboratewithteachersistocoplanwiththem, she noted. She meets with a group of eight teachers weekly, during their personal planning time, to examine their lesson plans for the coming week. Instructional leaders have referred most of the teachers to her because they arestruggling,butsomejointhegroupvoluntarily,saying,Iwanttoworkwith youtoimprovemylessonplans. Ms. Niedergeses asks participants in the meetings to consider How do we grow? based on what happened the previous week, and helps them build engagement,alignment,andrigorintotheirlessonplans,shesaid.Sheworks

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with some teachers for a few weeks or months, but has also worked with severalteachersforthreeyears.Theirinstructionhasimprovedandchanged becauseofthatcollaborationandtherelationshipwehavebuilt. Ms.Niedergesesalsospendsasignificantpartofherdaycreatinginstructional agendas and scripts, and facilitating meetings of small learning communities. Sheobservesteachersintheirclassrooms,oftenaccompaniedbyateacheron hisorherplanningperiod.Afterobservingaclasstogether,thetwostepinto thehallwaytotalk.Ms.Niedergesesmayasktheteacher,Whatdidyousee? Whatdidyoufindengaging?Whatcouldyoutryinyourownclassroom?How wouldyoucategorizethisteacher'slevelofrigor? Ms. Niedergeses also works with individual teachersincluding those who teach math, science, or social studies as well as those who teach English Language Artsbased on data on the core framework and academic outcomes. She helps teachers look at their class rosters, look at their outcomes, and focus on what they were doing in their classroom that ultimatelyledtothosedata.

H OW C OACHES C AN T RANSFORM T EACHING


Mr.Fergusonaskedthepresenterstoexpandontherolesandcompensationof instructional coaches at Lee, and to comment on how they support veteran teachers. The school assigns one coach to every two small learning communities, and that means each coach works with 25 to 30 teachers, Ms. Niedergeses responded. Administrators refer teachers to coaching based on their weekly lesson plans and patterns and behaviors they observe during commonplanningtime.Newteachersandveteranteachersalikecanalsoask coachesforassistance.Coachesworkwithveteranteachersmuchastheywork withnewteachers,relyingontheirownobservationsaswellasthoseofother staffmembers,Ms.Niedergesessaid. Theschoolhasexpandedthenumberofinstructionalcoachesduringthelast five years. Administrators formerly assigned coaches to individual departments. However, coaches now promote good instructional practices across the curriculum, while focusing especially on effective teaching for English language learners. Coaches are paid according to teachers salary levels,withincentivesbasedonexperience,accordingtoMs.Niedergeses. Mr. Ferguson asked about the importance of a teacher's attitude versus a coach's skills in improving instruction. There is always a tension between teachers who have been assigned to work with a coachand teachers who 204|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

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want to work with a coach and improve their practice, Ms. Niedergeses acknowledged.Alotofitcomesdowntorelationshipbuilding. Forexample,evenifsheknowsthereissomethingspecificthatIneedtowork onwithateacherthatiswrittenintotheirinstructionalplan,wemaynotfocus onthatduringthefirstfewcoachingsessions.Instead,Ms.Niedergesesmight lookathernotesfromaclassroomobservationandasktheteacher,Howdid youthinkthingswenttoday?Whatarethethingsthatyouwanttoworkon? Thegoalistofocusonwhatateacherthinkssheneedsandtogetbuyinto move the teacher in the direction they need to go, but also in the direction theywanttogo,shesaid. Could the word transformation be used to describe the progress you have madewithanyparticularteacher?Mr.Fergusonasked.Yes,Ms.Niedergeses responded. The process of improving instruction occurs differently with different teachers, she noted. She has been working with one teacher to improve her clarity of instruction for three years. The lesson plans at this pointaregood,sheisthinkingthroughwhatsheneedstododuringalessonto makeitclearforstudents.However,whensheisstandinginthefrontofthe classroom, is she doing it? Ms. Niedergeses is now helping that teacher practicepresentingalessonbeforeshefacesherstudents. Mr. Ferguson asked Ms. Niedergeses to fill in the blank: There has been a transformationof[what]withthisparticularteacher.Theamountofteacher talk, she responded. She has seen a great reduction in the amount of time theteacherspendstalkingaboutthingsthatultimatelydistractstudentsfroma clearlesson.

Thegoalistomovethe teacherinthedirection theyneedtogo,but alsointhedirection theywanttogo.

D IFFERENTIATING I NSTRUCTION
Mr.Connellasked thepresenters to commentondifferentiatedinstructionat the school. Differentiated instruction is essential at Lee because of its overwhelmingEnglishlanguagelearnerpopulation,Ms.Kelleyresponded.Its somethingthatmusthappenineverysingleclassalldaylong,everyday. It'simportanttorecognizehowdifficultdifferentiatedinstructionistoprovide day in and day out, Mr. Amstutz observed. Its also important to avoid inadvertently harming students through differentiated instruction, he added. That could occur if teachers develop different expectations for different students.Forexample,teachersmightteachsomestudentsalgebraandother students algebra lite, or teach some students geography and others geographylite. 2009AGIConferenceReport 205|P a g e

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AtourschoolthattypicallyhappenswithstudentswhoarelearningEnglish, hesaid.Teacherswaterdownasubjectinanattempttomakethelanguage accessible,andsuddenlywehavelostthesubstanceofthecourseitself.Thatis aconstantchallenge,andsomethingwehavetocontinuallyguardagainst.For example,inworldgeographystudentslearnabouturbanizationanditsimpact. Different textbooks and other materials are available for teaching that conceptsome with less complex vocabulary and content. Instructional leadershavedevotedsignificanteffortstofiguringouthowtoeffectivelyand appropriately expand students vocabularywhich ends up benefiting all learners,notjustEnglishlanguagelearners,Mr.Amstutznoted. Mr. Murnane asked how the school deals with students who arrive midyear, giventhatteachersalreadystruggletodifferentiateinstruction.OnethingLee does, and that we can all do, is to make sure those kids are welcomed, Ms. Niedergesessaid,becauseifstudentsarriveatacertainpointduringtheyear theyaregoingtobelost.Ifwecanempowerourteacherswithasturdyset ofskillsthattheycanusetoprovidequalityinstructionforeveryoneonaday today basis, that helps them deal with students as they arrive, Ms. Kelley noted.Teachingnewstudentsitselfrequiresdifferentiatedinstructionthatis, teacherswhoarewellequippedandwillingtotakethosekidsonandtotreat them as if they have been in their class for the entire year. We can't do anythingaboutthemobility.Whatwecandoisimproveinstructionwhenthey gethere. TheprocessofassigninganadvocatetoeachstudentisanotherLeeresponse to student mobility. As such an advocate, Ms. Niedergeses has been working withagroupof13youngwomenwhohavebeenwithmesincetheyenrolled atLeeHighSchoolhalfwaythroughtheyear.Iamstilltheonewhohelpsthem keeptrackoftheirdata.Ihelpthemmanagethethingsthattheyneedtodoto be successful students. However, the advocacy system is less about instruction and more about making sure we are connecting with kids and caring,shesaid. Ms. Niedergeses is also the first point of contact for the teachers of those students.Thatmeansshecangointoasmalllearningcommunitymeetingand ask, What's going on with Tara? She is new, is she fitting in? Do you have questions?Doyouhaveconcerns?AndIcangobacktothestudentandhelp himorheraddressthereasonswhytheyarestruggling. Everystaffmemberincludingliteracycoachesandadministratorsservesas astudentadvocate,pointedoutMr.Connell,whoworkswiththeschoolasa 206|P a g e 2009AGIConferenceReport

Wecan'tdoanything aboutthemobility. Whatwecandois improveinstruction whentheygethere.

HOWHIGHSCHOOLSBECOMEEXEMPLARY
consultant. That policy reduces the ratio of staff to students to something that'smanageable.

H OW TO S USTAIN P ROGRESS
Wehavemadealotofprogressandweareverypleased,butwehavealong waytogo,Mr.Amstutzacknowledged.Wehaveprobablymadejustasmany missteps as we have made good steps. A particular challenge is to pursue a programorinitiativewiththefidelityitdeservesoveralongperiodoftime,so that you can get it right and get it better and give it the opportunity to succeed. Nothingstaysfixed,heobserved.Everytimewethinkwe'vegotsomething in place and going well, it tends to want to fall apart. We have to provide constant maintenance to keep things moving. Specific challenges include constant tensions between academic departments and small learning communities, between autonomy for small learning communities and school wideconsensus,betweenteacherautonomyanddirectedinstruction,andtoo much data, which we believe can be a real problem, versus too little data or thewrongdata.Wetrytobalance[all]thoseandgetthemright,hesaid.

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