In looking at successful schools, Alaska has found common elements, reports the Anchorage Daily News:
Goals are clearly defined, and everyone understands how to reach them. And principals and teachers use test data constantly to prescribe new, more effective ways to teach children.
It takes money too, say principals, but there’s lots of evidence that money is the second step in improvement. First, the principal has to set high expectations and develop a plan. One principal took over a school so bad that many teachers had quit. He hired energetic new teachers willing to buy in to his ideas.
Alaska’s lowest-performing schools haven’t “embraced accountability,” said Les Morse, the state’s testing and data guru.
Translation: They tend to dismiss No Child Left Behind, find the federal law an unfair distraction and are plodding along with a business-as-usual mentality.
I don’t know why this isn’t the norm: Look at schools that are succeeding with high-need students, analyze the common elements, do more of what works.