Immediate Influence

Principles for effective schools

Parent construct: Effective Schools

The Center on Teaching and Learning at the University of Oregon assists schools around the world in becoming more effective. It recently identified four principles for effective schools.

Principle 1: We must build the capacity, communication, and commitment to ensure that all children are readers by grade 3.

Elementary schools, especially in K-3 need to make literacy learning their highest priority. Why?

  • So that after grade 3 they can successfully transition from “learning to read,” to “reading to learn”
  • Students who have reading problems by grade 3 tend to still have reading problems when they are much older (Juel, 1988; Shaywitz et al., 1993).
  • Early intervention can prevent or ameliorate the effect of early reading risk for most students (National Reading Panel, 2000).

Principle 2: Schools should use school-wide and neighborhood-based prevention and intervention models to achieve success for all students.

Critical components include goals, assessment, instruction, professional development, leadership, and commitment. Within these models, the following elements are essential:

  • For EACH student…
    • Goals should be individualized
    • Ongoing progress monitoring should occur
    • Instruction should be differentiated and adjusted based on performance data
  • For ALL students…

    • Goals should be comprehensive and coordinated
    • Benchmark monitoring should occur at least three times a year
    • Instruction should fit within the Schoolwide Framework for All
    • Schools need to use a curriculum that has been shown in research to benefit all children learning to read
    • For learners who lack a strong background in literacy, instructional time should be increased
  • For teachers and administrators…

    • Adequate and ongoing professional development is utilized to support reading instruction
    • Appropriate resources and communication systems are in place to support reading instruction, progress monitoring, and student learning.

Principle 3: We must ensure that students have the conceptual understanding and mathematical vocabulary needed to succeed in school mathematics…

  • For learners who lack a strong background in numeracy, instructional time needs to be increased
  • Utilize a prevention-intervention model:
    • Screen all students to identify those at risk for potential mathematics difficulties and provide interventions to students identified as at risk
    • Instruction for students receiving interventions should… * focus intensely on in-depth treatment of whole numbers in kindergarten through grade 5 and on rational numbers in grades 4 through 8 * be explicit and systematic * include instruction on solving word problems that is based on common underlying structures * include opportunities for students to work with visual representations of mathematical ideas and interventionists should be proficient in the use of visual representations of mathematical ideas * devote about 10 minutes in each session to building fluent retrieval of basic arithmetic facts
      • include strategies to motivate students
    • Monitor the progress of students receiving supplemental instruction and other students who are at risk.

Principle 4: We should – and can – take what we know from scientifically based reading research and translate it into effective reading practices.

We can build the capacity, communication, and commitment to ensure that all children are readers by grade 3. Important to this effort are the following components of a Schoolwide Model:

  • Goals – Goals for reading achievement are clearly defined, anchored to research, prioritized in terms of importance to student learning, commonly understood by users, and consistently employed as instructional guides by all teachers of reading.

  • Assessment -- Instruments and procedures for assessing reading achievement are clearly specified, measure essential skills, provide reliable and valid information about student performance, and inform instruction in important, meaningful, and maintainable ways.

  • Instruction -- The instructional programs and materials have documented efficacy, are drawn from research-based findings and practices, align with state standards and benchmarks, and support the full range of learners. A sufficient amount of time is allocated for instruction and the time allocated is used effectively. Instruction optimizes learning for all students by tailoring instruction to meet current levels of knowledge and prerequisite skills and organizing instruction to enhance student learning.

  • Professional Development -- Adequate and ongoing professional development is determined and available to support reading instruction.

  • Leadership -- Strong instructional leadership maintains a focus on high-quality instruction, organizes and allocates resources to support reading, and establishes mechanisms to communicate reading progress and practices.

  • Commitment – The neighborhood and broader community takes full and unflinching responsibility for the education of all children and provides the guidance and support to the school for ensuring that all students are able to be successful life-long learners.