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A book by researchers from the Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago provides a detailed analysis of why 100 elementary schools showed extraordinary progress in attendance and test scores over a seven-year period and why 100 others did not. Using massive longitudinal evidence on the conditions within schools and the communities in which they are located, the study yields a comprehensive set of school practices and conditions that promote improvement, noting that the absence of these spells stagnation.

The five essential supports are: school leadership, professional capacity, parent-community ties, student-centered learning climate, and instructional guidance.   In contrast to many current reform efforts that seek to spur progress through one or two of these elements, this book shows that substantial school improvement requires building the social organization within schools and orchestrating initiatives across multiple domains.  

Moving beyond the schoolhouse, the authors analyze community context to discover the ways internal practices of improving schools are inexorably entwined with the social resources of local neighborhoods. They raise troublesome questions about our society’s capacity to improve schooling in its most neglected communities.

These findings are particularly timely as school districts nationwide launch a new round of efforts to turn around their most troubled schools. This pioneering undertaking by authors Anthony S. Bryk, Penny Bender Sebring, Elaine Allensworth, Stuart Luppescu, and John Q. Easton provides invaluable knowledge to urban education professionals and policy makers alike.

Order Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago!

Selected Media Coverage

Review of Organizing Schools for Improvement
Teachers College Record, 8/30/10

Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont (radio version)
WBEZ-FM, 5/9/10

Organizing Schools for Improvement
Phi Delta Kappan (April 2010, vol. 91, no. 7, pp. 23-30)

Book learning
The University of Chicago Magazine, 4/1/10

Book shares Chicago recipe for good schools
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1/30/10

Scholars identify 5 keys to urban school success
Education Week, 1/25/10

CPS Closures: Will it really improve the school system?
WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight, 1/20/10

Landmark University study points to five essential supports for school reform
University of Chicago News, 1/16/10

'Silver bullet' approach to school reform isn't effective, study says
Medill Reports 1/14/10