Facing the Challenges of Whole-School Reform

Facing the Challenges of Whole-School Reform: New American Schools After a Decade

Mark Berends
Susan J. Bodilly
Sheila Nataraj Kirby
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 266
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1498edu
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  • Book Info
    Facing the Challenges of Whole-School Reform
    Book Description:

    About a decade ago, New American Schools (NAS) set out to address theperceived lagging performance of American students and the lacklusterresults of school reform efforts. As a private nonprofit organization,NAS's mission was-and is-to help schools and districts raise studentachievement levels by using whole-school designs and design team assistanceduring implementation. Since its inception, NAS has engaged in adevelopment phase (1992-1993), a demonstration phase (1993-1995), and ascale-up phase (1995-present). Over the last ten years, RAND has been monitoring the progress of the NASinitiative. This book is a retrospective on NAS and draws together thefindings from RAND research. The book underscores the significantcontributions made by NAS to comprehensive school reform but also highlightsthe challenges of trying to reform schools through whole-school designs.Divided into sections on each research phase, the book concludes with anafterword by NAS updating its own strategy for the future. This book willinterest those who want to better understand comprehensive school reform andits effects on teaching and learning within high-stakes accountabilityenvironments.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3224-9
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xv-xl)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xli-xlii)
  8. ACRONYMS
    (pp. xliii-xliv)
  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-30)
    Mark Berends, Susan Bodilly and Sheila Nataraj Kirby

    Spurred by the piecemeal approach to school reform that had produced little change in the nation’s test scores, New American Schools (NAS) launched its efforts for whole-school reform in 1991. This initiative was based on the premise that high-quality schools are established with external providers (design teams) providing assistance to schools for implementing designs.

    A Design Team is an organization that provides high-quality, focused, ongoing professional development for teachers and administrators organized around a meaningful and compelling vision of what students should know and be able to do. The vision, or design, offers schools a focus for their improvement efforts,...

  10. Chapter Two THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW AMERICAN SCHOOLS
    (pp. 31-58)
    Thomas Glennan and Susan Bodilly

    This chapter covers the evolution of NAS, both planned and unplanned. It offers more precise statements of NAS’s goals and theories of action over time. It also provides details into decisions NAS made and why. Perhaps most importantly the chapter covers where NAS is now headed.

    The information presented here was pulled from previous reports by RAND, especially Glennan (1998). The original work itself is based on the following data sources: document reviews; attendance and observations at NAS and design team meetings from 1991 through 2001; interviews over this same period with NAS, design team leads, district leaders, and NAS...

  11. Chapter Three CHANGES IN NAS DESIGNS
    (pp. 59-70)
    Susan Bodilly

    In contrast to the previous chapter, this chapter deals with the evolution of the individual designs themselves. Unlike the other research tasks with specific views of events in particular phases, this task covered a longer time period, from 1992 to 1998. It takes a case study approach using the designs as the unit of analysis to understand the changes to designs over time and why they occurred. Original designs submitted in 1992 are the starting place for the historical comparison. Newer documents, submitted to NAS and RAND, were used to mark the changes in designs at pertinent intervals. NAS in...

  12. Chapter Four IMPLEMENTATION OF NAS DESIGNS DURING THE SCALE-UP PHASE
    (pp. 71-94)
    Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Mark Berends, Scott Naftel, Christopher McKelvey, Susan Bodilly, JoAn Chun, Brian Gill and Jodi Heilbrunn

    This chapter examines implementation of designs during the scale-up phase. First, we provide an overview of the schools in which scale-up occurred in order to set the context for understanding implementation and performance. The second section describes the research questions and provides a brief summary of the methods used by the various studies of implementation during the scale-up phase. These methods are described in considerable detail in the Appendix. This section also lists some caveats on the findings of the longitudinal analysis. The third section presents our findings on the levels of implementation achieved by the scale-up schools. The final...

  13. Chapter Five IMPLEMENTATION OF NAS DESIGNS IN A HIGH-POVERTY DISTRICT
    (pp. 95-122)
    Mark Berends, JoAn Chun, Gina Schuyler, Sue Stockly and R. J. Briggs

    While the last chapter examined the relationship of district, design, school, and teacher factors to implementation in a longitudinal sample of schools across all NAS sites, this chapter focuses on implementation of NAS designs within a high-poverty district. Here we focus on the conditions in the district, schools, and classrooms that promote or inhibit design implementation and changes in teaching and learning within a particular district (see Berends et al., 2002).

    In this chapter, we first describe the research questions and methodology of this classroom study and then the rationale behind conducting the study in the San Antonio district. Next,...

  14. Chapter Six NAS DESIGNS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
    (pp. 123-142)
    Mark Berends, Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Scott Naftel, Christopher McKelvey, Sue Stockly, R. J. Briggs, JoAn Chun, Gina Schuyler, Brian Gill and Jodi Heilbrunn

    The overall mission of NAS is to help schools and districts significantly raise the achievement of large numbers of students with whole-school designs and the assistance design teams provide during the implementation process. This chapter provides policymakers and researchers some understanding of the performance progress that NAS made within the partnering jurisdictions during the scale-up phase. This chapter focuses specifically on the following research questions:

    Did NAS schools make gains in test scores relative to all schools in their respective jurisdictions?

    What were the achievement gains across grade levels of individual students in NAS schools compared with non-NAS students?

    Before...

  15. Chapter Seven THE FUTURE OF WHOLE-SCHOOL DESIGNS: CONCLUSIONS, OBSERVATIONS, AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 143-154)
    Mark Berends, Susan Bodilly and Sheila Nataraj Kirby

    The NAS effort, as we mentioned earlier, offered an unprecedented opportunity to study and understand a dramatic attempt at whole-school reform from its inception—one based on an experimental approach of research and development, demonstration, and scale-up. Analyzing the initiative over this past decade has offered a broad perspective on the issues facing different parties to the reform effort: founders, developers, district administrators, principals, and teachers. Perhaps more importantly, RAND’s findings from monitoring the NAS effort over this past decade offer important and sobering lessons for federal, state, and local policymakers attempting to improve failing schools through comprehensive school reform....

  16. Afterword DRIVEN BY RESULTS AND A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE
    (pp. 155-170)
    New American Schools

    The best available information and our own experiences suggest comprehensive school reform (CSR), while not problem-free, has great potential for success and has become the dominant school reform model in the nation’s classrooms. However, its ability to reach large numbers of schools and students depends in no small part on changes in the culture of school systems and, above all, a move from policies dominated by the quick fix of the day to practices driven by results and continuous improvement. The nation should continue to invest in CSR with an eye toward improvement, given the promise shown. Now is not...

  17. Appendix METHODOLOGY FOR THE STUDIES ON IMPLEMENTATION AND PERFORMANCE
    (pp. 171-208)
  18. REFERENCES
    (pp. 209-222)