Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning
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Shields, P. M., & Knapp, M. S. (1997). The promise and limits of school-based reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 79, 288-294.
The authors take a generic look at school-based reform by summarizing a national study sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education. Shields and Knapp identify six dimensions to distinguish among school based reform efforts: the scope (how many aspects of the school are addressed); the degree of focus on teaching and learning; the time frame; the locus of authority for decision making; the collaborative engagement of schoolpeople and others; and the depth and range of professional development opportunities offered. Relying on survey data, site visits, and case studies, the authors describe the ways in which reform efforts vary across the six dimensions. The logical question is which of the reforms hold greatest promise for improving schools. To answer this, it is necessary to decide what constitutes effective reform, and the authors posit that promising reforms focus on creating quality learning experiences for students. Using quality learning experiences as the touchstone, the authors suggest that certain combinations of variations seem to bring schools closer to the goal of offering high-quality learning opportunities for their students. For example, they list strategies such as combining an instructional focus with appropriate professional support and setting attainable goals with long time times for accomplishing them. Actions by districts or states influencing a school's reform efforts are also explained in this article.
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