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Articles: Reform

Parents from Desert Trails School

Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif. has been on the federal watch list for failing schools for six years, with only one-third of sixth-graders at grade level in reading and math. But come next August, it will be transformed into a charter school, thanks to a small group of parents who for the first time enacted major reform under the state’s controversial parent trigger law.

Michelle RenéeSchool turnaround policies that include firing and replacing teachers and administrators in hopes of raising test scores are actually detrimental to schools, according to a report from the National Education Policy Center.

Odvard Egil DyrliAfter serving as editor-in-chief of District Administration magazine a few years ago, and then leaving temporarily to work on other projects, it is an enormous personal privilege to return as executive editor and greet our many readers again. Or, as they say in the movies, “He’s back...!”

Hite with Philly kids walk to school

When William Hite Jr. introduced himself as a candidate for superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia in a community meeting earlier this year, he read from a list of student concerns he had jotted down on a slip of paper. For example, one student observed that there were more police officers than counselors in some schools, and another wished that teachers would find new ways to teach and find ways to engage more students.

Five years ago, a pair of science teachers at Woodland Park (Colo.) High School turned their pedagogical approach upside down. Rather than stand up in front of the classroom, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams sent their respective students home with videos of themselves lecturing. And rather than assigning traditional homework, work that most students could get tripped up on if they are not sure about a certain topic, the teachers gave students time in class—with their close supervision and help—to put their learning into practice.

Evaluating teachers—whether casually or more rigorously, annually or less frequently—has long been part of the job description of many a principal and assistant principal, who often have relied on occasional observations to make their judgments. What’s usually resulted are an overwhelming number of “satisfactory” ratings and the infrequent “unsatisfactory” designations.

What is at stake for K12 education in next month’s presidential election? Both President Obama and Gov. Romney say improving education will be a top priority in their administrations, but their policies and initiatives would likely be quite different.

Protestors challenge polices using race to help determine where children go to school.

The issue of whether race can or should play a role in school admissions has long plagued school districts and the courts. As districts across the country struggle to achieve diversity in a legally permissible way, whether and to what extent race may be used remains a thorny issue. Educators searching for answers encounter a complicated body of law that often leads to more questions than answers.  

Josh Powell poses for photo with visiting children.

The resounding cry from Joshua Powell supporters, the Kentucky superintendent who in six years turned two underperforming districts into successful ones, is that his method “actually works.”

His first job as superintendent was at Cloverport Independent where led the district from 165th out of 174 state rankings to 10th in three years.  In 2008, Powell accepted his second superintendent job at Union County Public Schools where he replicated his efforts, leading the district from 161st to 52nd in three years. 

07/2012 to 08/2012
guidance counselors

The national appetite for combating bullying at the elementary and secondary level in many cases is outpacing the ability of school districts to hire the guidance counselors who head up such efforts, although increased awareness of and sophistication in handling bullying over the past decade are beginning to have a positive effect, counselors say.


Veteran Superintendent Paul Vallas is onto the next big thing.

One year ago, John Covington, the former superintendent of Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools, became the chancellor of a new organization in Michigan. The new state agency, the Michigan Education Achievement Authority (EAA), will operate the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in Michigan, 38 of which are in the city of Detroit. Covington was brought in by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder because of his success in urban districts and track record for finding creative and innovative solutions.

Portfolio Strategy

When Andres Alonso joined Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools in 2007, he wasted no time in implementing the Portfolio Strategy. The district had over 80,000 students, 91 percent of which were minority and 82 percent were low-income. Baltimore City had been plagued by low test scores and a widening achievement gap for years, and Alonso sought out this multi-tiered approach as a resolution.

 Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost?

As school and state leaders across the nation prepare to implement the Common Core State Standards in the fall of 2014, a new report proposes three options—with three costs—to use.