The Illinois Best Practice School Study: 2003-2006. Research and Policy Report 1-2007Reportar como inadecuado

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Center for the Study of Education Policy

The Illinois Best Practice School Study is part of a national research study to investigate successful practices in schools. This multi-year study (2003-2006) sought to identify and analyze the best practices of schools that are considered to be consistent high performers despite significant poverty levels. The Illinois study (underwritten by the Illinois Business Round Table and Illinois State University) found common features and best practices among schools with consistently high achievement based on three years of state test scores in all subjects, and a minimum poverty level of 20%. The Illinois study is organized within six themes: Curriculum; Staffing; Instruction; Monitoring Student Progress; Recognition, Rewards & Interventions; and School Climate & Culture. These themes are based on the large body of effective schools research, and across three levels of organization (district, school and classroom). Interview data and documentation were gathered at all three organizational levels--district, school and classroom--and subsequently analyzed using qualitative data coding methods. Instructional, organizational and cultural practices within the six themes were documented and case studies produced that integrate state School Report Card data with qualitative findings. The six themes provided a useful framework for probing the workings of the high-performing schools in this study. The first five themes provide the core technologies or mechanics of the school. These form a necessary technical core which must exhibit alignment. Alignment occurs when the school's curriculum reflects the required learning standards and goals, both state and local; and when teachers are highly qualified to teach the curriculum and assigned appropriately to grade levels and subjects. Alignment tightens when instructional methods are likely to help all learners acquire the knowledge and skills defined within the curriculum; when assessment instruments are used that actually measure what is taught and provide valuable feedback on an ongoing basis, for use by both students and teachers. Alignment becomes even more effective when rewards and interventions match academic goals and expectations. The attributes of the Climate & Culture theme both wrap around and are embedded within this mechanical vehicle. Trust and a sense of "can do" efficacy pervade the organization. The key cultural attributes of lateral accountability, relational trust and distributed leadership are infused throughout the technical operations of the school. This study has several key policy implications: (1) Policymakers need to find ways to assist schools to strengthen their technical core while establishing a solid culture of excellence; (2) New research in this area should focus on how Illinois best practice schools came to be that way, and how their efforts involved leadership, interaction, adaptation, and many iterations of refinement; and (3) Policy initiatives should increase educator competencies and school leader capacity and foster student-centered instructional methods. This contrasts starkly with policies that underwrite increasing levels of regulation, punitive interventions and sanction enforcement. (Contains 1 figure. Additional resources are also provided.)

Descriptors: Best Practices, School Effectiveness, Poverty, High Achievement, Academic Achievement, Curriculum, School Personnel, Instruction, Student Evaluation, Recognition (Achievement), Rewards, Intervention, Educational Environment, School Culture

Center for the Study of Education Policy. Department of Educational Administration and Foundations, College of Education, Illinois State University, 320 DeGarmo Hall, Campus Box 5900, Normal, IL 61790-5900. Tel: 309-438-2399; Fax: 309-438-8683; e-mail: edpolicyctr[at]; Web site:

Autor: Curry, Lynne; Pacha, Joseph; Baker, Paul J.


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